SAG urges Finance Minister to investigate illegal offshore betting and money-laundering by Parimatch

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The Society Against Gambling Trust (SAG) has taken an active stance against illegal offshore betting activities, urging Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to initiate a comprehensive inquiry into the alleged activities of Prosportive Wear Private Limited, an affiliate of the illegal offshore betting website ‘Parimatch.’

In a formal letter addressed to the Finance Minister dated 1st February 2024, Neha Verma, the Chairperson of SAG Trust, expressed serious concerns about the illicit operations of ‘Parimatch,’ which, despite domain blocks, continues to exploit Indian citizens through new or mirror domain names.

The trust accused ‘Parimatch‘ of blatant violations of Indian laws related to money laundering, GST, foreign exchange, gambling, and criminal activities. To further their illegal brand, ‘Parimatch’ established ‘Prosportive Wear Private Limited,’ a sports apparel company in India, with the same logo and colours, allegedly serving as a front to launder and transfer illicit betting funds while promoting illegal activities. The registered directors of this company are Vineet Sahay and Roopali Singhal who are designated partners of the corporate advisory firm VRCorp Advisors LLP.

Besides Parimatch, several other illegal offshore betting sites like Mahadev Book, Lotus365, FairPlay, Reddy Anna, etc, have been continuing their illegal activities unabated by using innovative bypass techniques. These illegal betting companies register themselves in countries with no tax laws like Curaçao or Cyprus, and generate revenue in India, which is then routed abroad through cryptocurrencies and local hawala channels.

Despite constant action by govt including blocking of domains, ED action & advisories by I&B Ministry, these sites jump domains and use proxy sites to stay active. Alarmingly, several top cricket and film celebrities have endorsed these sites, giving these illegal sites false-legitimacy amidst the youth.

SAG Trust requested Finance Minister Sitharaman’s intervention for a thorough investigation against ‘Prosportive Wear Private Limited’, its directors, key managerial persons, shareholders, and ultimate beneficial owners.

The trust urged the following actions:

  • Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO): Direct SFIO to investigate the affairs, compliances, and transactions of Prosportive Wear Private Limited, conducting a forensic audit of the company.
  • Directorate General of Goods and Services Tax Intelligence (DGGI): Instruct DGGI to order the appropriate authority to block domain names of ‘Parimatch’ and its affiliates, conducting a comprehensive investigation into the affairs of Prosportive Wear Private Limited.
  • Directorate of Enforcement (ED): Direct ED to investigate potential money laundering and FEMA violations by Prosportive Wear Private Limited and other websites, affiliates, agents, and employees of ‘Parimatch’ operating in India.

The Society Against Gambling Trust emphasized the urgency of these measures to curb the ongoing exploitation and ensure legal action against those involved in the alleged illegal activities. The Finance Minister is yet to respond to the letter, and the public awaits indications of the government’s stance on the proposed investigative actions.