Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State (MoS) in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) today on Twitter announced meeting an official from a Cyprus based gaming focused investment fund Energame. Interestingly, the official who met the minister, Nicholas Tymoshchuk, is currently the Corporate Affairs Director of Energame and until February 2023 served as a high-ranking executive (Government Affairs Director) of notorious offshore betting portal Parimatch, whose domain has been blocked by Chandrasekhar’s department MeitY. Parimatch has also been facing other action under Indian law including for Goods and Services Tax (GST) evasion and for violation of FEMA and money-laundering laws.
Energame on LinkedIn describes itself as a fund focussed on betting, gambling, eSports, and gaming. Betting and gambling are illegal in most parts of India.
Mr. Nicholas Tymoshchuk @NicTymoshchuk, Corporate Affairs Director, Energame #Cyprus called on me at my office @GoI_MeitY today & discussed about opportunities in #NewIndia’s vibrant #onlinegaming sector. #IndiaTechade @_DigitalIndia pic.twitter.com/0hGLxIgzsK
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) May 24, 2023
Parimatch is among list of domains blocked by MeitY under the Information Technology Act, 2000. It is not clear of the relationship between Pari Match and Energame.
Although the links between Energame and Parimatch are not clear, according to a search on LinkedIn, all four of Energame’s current employees are former or present employees of Pari Match. Anna Motruk, who describes herself as a partner of Energame is also a Deputy CEO of Pari Match. All these somehow indicate some sort of direct or indirect connections between Parimatch and Energame. Parimatch is also under sanctions in the home country Ukraine.
Betting portals are illegal in India and operate through shady structures, playing a cat and mouse game with Indian regulators, and starting mirror websites if their domain names are blocked by authorities.
MeitY under the stewardship of MoS Chandraskehar has been striving hard to regulate the online gaming sector and recently notified amendments in the Information Technology Rules to regulate online real money games through Self-Regulatory Bodies (SRBs) approved by MeitY.
Chandrasekhar while announcing the new rules for online gaming has on more than one occasion announced the government’s intention to allow legitimate online gaming companies and ensure illegal online gambling and betting websites do not operate in the country.
In this light, the minister meeting an official from a relatively unknown betting-focused investment fund with possible links to a leading illegal gambling operator sends out a wrong signal to the legitimate domestic online real money gaming companies that operate in the country in compliance with applicable laws.