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ED freezes Rs 580.78 crore in Mahadev Online Book case; says its operations are being run from Dubai

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): The Enforcement Directorate has seized Rs 580.78 crore in assets related to the Mahadev Online Book Betting app case, asserting that its activities are being operated from Dubai.

The ED’s action occurred as the agency conducted raids at 15 locations targeting individuals suspected of involvement in money laundering networks associated with Mahadev Online Book in Kolkata, Gurugram, Delhi, Indore, Mumbai, and Raipur.

During the operation, the ED said it retrieved cash worth Rs 1.86 crore, valuables worth Rs 1.78 crore and also frozen and identified proceeds of crime worth Rs 580.78 crore. The searches also resulted in the seizure of a large amount of incriminating evidence, including digital data and the identification of assets.

The agency is investigating a case against “Mahadev Online Book”, which is an umbrella syndicate arranging online platforms for enabling illegal betting websites to enrol new users, create user IDs and launder money through a layered web of Benami bank accounts.

The ED initiated an investigation on the basis of First Information Reports (FIRs) registered by Chhattisgarh Police. Subsequently, other FIRs registered by Visakhapatnam Police and other states were also taken on record.

An ED investigation into the matter has revealed that “the operations of Mahadev Online Book are being run from Dubai and it operates by franchising ‘panel and branches’ to their known associates on a 70 per cent to 30 per cent profit ratio.””The main promoters of Mahadev Online Book are also partners and promoters in multiple such online betting books like ‘Reddy Anna’ and ‘Fairplay’. Large-scale hawala operations are done to syphon off the proceeds of betting proceeds to off-shore accounts,” said the agency.

In the course of further investigation, the ED successfully identified other major players involved with the promoters of Mahadev Online Book.

“It was found that one Hari Shankar Tibrewal, who hails from Kolkata but is currently residing in Dubai, is a huge hawala operator and has partnered with the promoters of Mahadev Online Book. ED conducted searches at his known premises and at the premises of his associates. The searches revealed that Hari Shankar Tibrewal owned and operated one of the illegal betting websites, such as SkyExchange.

“He, through his Dubai-based entities, was investing the betting proceeds in the Indian Stock market by way of the Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) route. He had also employed many of his associates as Director in various companies which were involved in layering of the betting proceeds by investing them in the stock market. He was also involved in large-scale hawala movement of the betting funds,” said the ED.

Accordingly, security holdings worth Rs 580.78 crore in the name of the entities beneficially owned by Hari Shankar Tibrewal have been frozen by ED under PMLA 2002.

Earlier in this case, movable properties totalling Rs 572.41 crore were seized and frozen during searches conducted under the PMLA, 2002. Two provisional attachment orders have been issued, attaching movable and immovable properties valued at Rs 142.86 crore.

Prosecution complaints dated October 20, 2023, and January 1 of this year have been filed in the case. Nine accused have already been apprehended in connection with the case. Thus, total attachment and freezing in the case stand at Rs 1,296.05 crore.

The move comes almost a month after the federal agency arrested two individuals, Nitin Tibrewal from Kolkata and Amit Agrawal from Raipur. Both accused were arrested in the second week of January.

Earlier, the ED had arrested alleged accused Asim Das, Bheem Singh Yadav, Chandrabhushan Verma, Anil Kumar Agrawal, Sunil Dammani, and Satish Chandrakar. The agency stated that the illicit funds generated by the app were used to bribe politicians and bureaucrats.

In November last year, the ED had also conducted searches against the money laundering networks linked with the alleged Mahadev Book Online Betting App, which led to the recovery of cash worth Rs 5.39 crore and a bank balance of Rs 15.59 crore.

Several celebrities and Bollywood actors have also been summoned by the agency for questioning regarding their connections with the online betting platform and the payment methods involved.

ED has filed two charge sheets in the Mahadev app case, including against the main promoters, Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal. The two promoters were recently detained in Dubai based on an Interpol red notice, and ED is working on their deportation or extradition to India.

The first charge sheet alleges that Chandrakar spent around Rs 200 crore in cash for his wedding in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in February 2023. The agency claims that private jets were hired to transport Chandrakar’s relatives, and celebrities were paid for performances. The projected proceeds of crime in this case are estimated at Rs 6,000 crore.

The agency filed the second charge sheet before a special court in Raipur on January 1 of this year.

The about 1,700-1,800 page fresh charge sheet specifically named five accused, including alleged cash courier Asim Das, police constable Bheem Singh Yadav, and Shubham Soni, a prominent executive linked to the app, among others.

Das and Yadav were arrested by the agency in November last year, just before the first phase of polling for the assembly polls in Chhattisgarh.

Soni, who had claimed to be the owner of the app, earlier issued a video statement and sent an affidavit to the ED claiming to have “proof” about kickbacks paid to politicians and their linked persons for allowing the app to run its illegal businesses without any legal action.

ED previously asserted that Mahadev app promoters paid approximately Rs 508 crore to former Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel. These claims, made just before the state assembly polls, were denied by Baghel, who labelled them as attempts to malign his image. The Congress party termed it vendetta politics by the Centre.

Chandrakar and Uppal, originally from Bhilai town in Chhattisgarh, are associated with the Mahadev online betting app, which is accused of facilitating illegal betting websites. (ANI)

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Shah Rukh Khan roots for KKR with his ‘Pathaan’ director Siddharth Anand during RR clash

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Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], April 16 (ANI): Baadshah of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, is here to cheer for his IPL team, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Donning a casual look, SRK opted for a white t-shirt that he teamed up with jeans and a pair of sunglasses.

The social media handle of KKR dropped a video from the match in which SRK can be seen making an entry in style and rooting for the boys.

Sharing the video, they wrote, “KKR’s lucky charm has arrived at Eden.”KKR’s social media team added ‘Baadshah O Baadshah’ track to the video to make it more captivating.

SRK was accompanied by ‘Pathaan’ director Siddharth Anand.

Talking about the match, table-toppers Rajasthan Royals (RR) is locking horns with second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday. Rajasthan Royals are currently at top of the IPL 2024 standings with 10 points and a net run rate of 0.767. The Royals have won five matches and lost one.

RR won toss and opted to field first.

Rajasthan Royals (Playing XI): Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (w/c), Riyan Parag, Dhruv Jurel, Shimron Hetmyer, Rovman Powell, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Kuldeep Sen, Yuzvendra ChahalKolkata Knight Riders (Playing XI): Philip Salt (w), Sunil Narine, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, Shreyas Iyer (c), Venkatesh Iyer, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Ramandeep Singh, Mitchell Starc, Varun Chakaravarthy, Harshit Rana.

On the work front, SRK returned to the silver screen with Siddharth Anand’s ‘Pathaan’ in January 2023.

The film in which SRK donned an awe-evoking action avatar broke several records at the box office and managed to grab a name in the list of one of the highest-grossing films in the Indian film industry.

The film also marked SRK’s first hit after his sabbatical of four years after a series of flicks such as ‘Zero’ and ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’. After ‘Pathaan’, King Khan returned to theatres in September with ‘Jawan’.

The film once again saw SRK in an action avatar. The film collected over Rs 1000 crore . at the worldwide box office. Needless to say, SRK, who has had a phenomenal run, did not stop here.

In December, he came up with ‘Dunki’, which also did decent business at the box office.

Helmed by RajKumar Hirani, ‘Dunki’ focuses on the issue of immigration. Its title is taken from the term “donkey journey,” which refers to the long, winding, and often dangerous routes that people across the world take to reach the places they want to immigrate to. He has not announced his next project yet.

However, if reports are to be believed, he will be seen sharing screen space with Salman Khan in ‘Tiger vs Pathaan’. The film will reportedly have Tiger (Salman) locking horns with Pathaan, played by Shah Rukh Khan. It will mark their full-fledged collaboration after ‘Karan Arjun’. The official announcement regarding the project is still awaited. (ANI)

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In first public appearance since firing incident, Salman ushers CM Shinde into his Mumbai residence

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], April 16 (ANI): In his first public appearance since the firing incident outside his upscale Bandra residence, superstar Salman Khan stepped out to welcome Chief Minister Eknath Shinde as he arrived to meet at the Galaxy Apartments on Tuesday.

In a video clip of the visit that was widely circulated across social media platforms, Salman was seen ushering CM Shinde into his residence.

Salman’s father and popular screenplay and dialogue writer from yesteryear, Salim Khan, politician Baba Siddique and his son Zeeshan Siddique were also inside the actor’s apartment as CM Shinde came calling.

In the clip, CM Shinde was seen having a discussion with the superstar, with the others seated around them.

The chief minister assured Salman and his family members of their safety, adding that they were being provided with increased security cover in light of the firing incident.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident on Sunday, last week, CM Shinde spoke to Salman over the phone and provided him with additional security cover. Shinde also brought up the firing incident with the Mumbai Police Commissioner and suggested increasing the superstar’s security.

He assured Salman that the government was with him and he need not worry.

Earlier, on Tuesday, Kutch Police arrested the two accused persons and handed them to the Mumbai Crime Branch. Later, a city court sent the two accused to the custody of the Mumbai Crime Branch until April 25 in connection with the firing incident.

The accused, identified as Vicky Gupta (24) and Sagar Pal (21) from Bihar, were presented before the court after a medical examination.

The two men, who came on a motorbike, fired four rounds outside the Galaxy Apartments, where the actor resides, around 5 am on Sunday morning and fled.

CCTV footage showed that both accused sported caps and carried backpacks. The clip also showed them firing in the direction of the actor’s home.

After the arrest of the accused, Kutch DSP AR Zankant said preliminary investigations revealed that the accused were in contact with the Lawrence Bishnoi gang.

“Mumbai Police is investigating the case of firing outside the residence of actor Salman Khan. We informed the Kutch Police that the two accused had fled to the Gujarat district. Different teams were formed to catch the accused. They were eventually arrested by the Kutch Police and handed over to the Mumbai Police. During primary interrogation of the accused, we learned that they were in contact with the Lawrence Bishnoi gang,” DSP Zankant said.

Notably, since November 2022, Salman’s security level has been elevated to Y-Plus after threats from gangsters Lawrence Bishnoi and Goldy Brar. The actor was also authorised top carry a personal firearm and has also acquired a new armoured vehicle for added protection.

On Monday, Salman’s brother Arbaaz Khan issued a statement on the family’s behalf, saying they all have been affected due to the ‘disturbing’ firing incident.

“The recent incident of firing by two unidentified person in a motorcycle at Galaxy apartment the residence of the Salim Khan family is very disturbing and unnerving. Our family has been taken aback by this shocking incident that took place. Unfortunately, some people claiming to be close to our family and pretending to be the spokesperson have been making loose statements to the media saying it’s all a publicity stunt and the family remains unaffected which is not true and these views should not be taken seriously,” the statement read.

He also shared that the family was fully cooperating with the Mumbai Police in the ongoing probe into the incident.

“No member of the Salim Khan family has made any statement regarding this incident to the media. At this time, the family is helping and cooperating with the police in the investigation of this untoward incident. We have faith in the Mumbai police and we have been assured they will do everything in their capacity to protect and secure our family. Thank you everyone for your love and support,” Arbaaz added in his statement. (ANI)

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Keanu Reeves will voice Shadow in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3’

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Washington [US], April 16 (ANI): ‘John Wick’ star Keanu Reeves will be voicing ‘Shadow’ in the upcoming action-adventure comedy film ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3’, according to Variety.

He joins a cast that includes Ben Schwartz as Sonic, as well as Jim Carrey as the villainous Dr Robotnik, the sources have confirmed.

‘Shadow’ first appeared in 2001’s ‘Sonic Adventure 2’, and he has since become one of the franchise’s most famous characters as an edgy antihero. He’s also often an antagonist to Sonic.

Reeves’ filmography includes ‘Speed’, ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, ‘My Own Private Idaho’, and the ‘Matrix’ trilogy. He will next star in the ‘John Wick’ spinoff, ‘Ballerina’, opposite Ana de Armas (his character’s unveiling in a new teaser released last week at CinemaCon drew enormous acclaim from the gathering of movie theatre executives, demonstrating the actor’s box office success). Reeves will also co-star in ‘Good Fortune’ with Aziz Ansari, Seth Rogen, Keke Palmer, and Sandra Oh.

Jeff Fowler, who oversaw the first two ‘Sonic’ movies, is returning as the director of the latest sequel. Neal H Moritz, Toby Ascher, Toru Nakahara and Hitoshi Okuno will produce ‘Sonic 3’, which will open in theatres on Dec. 20, 2024.

The franchise is one of Paramount’s most successful, with the combined global box office for “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” standing at 725.2 million dollars. The studio is also making a spin-off series, “Knuckles,'” that will premiere on Paramount, reported Variety. (ANI)

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