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Accused in Pune Mahadev betting app operation was out on bail in fraud case: Report

One of the prime suspects was out on bail in a fraud case, where he is accused of cheating Pune-based edible oil traders of Rs 8.53 crore in 2021-2022.
Last Updated : 18 May 2024, 10:41 IST
Last Updated : 18 May 2024, 10:41 IST

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Days after Pune police uncovered a set-up that processed payments for illegal betting applications, including the Mahadev betting app, The Indian Express reported on Saturday that Hritwik Kothari (24) and Raj Bokaria (28) -- the absconding accused at the heart of the case -- were "childhood friends," with the latter being out on bail in a previous fraud case.

Police officials told news agency PTI that over 90 individuals working at the premises are now being questioned. One official said that the police raided a multi-storeyed building at Narayangaon around midnight on Tuesday after receiving inputs about betting-linked operations being run from there.

“We conducted a raid. Subsequent inquiries revealed that while not directly engaged in betting, the unit was indeed processing payments for illicit betting platforms such as the Mahadev betting app,” Pankaj Deshmukh, Superintendent of Police for Pune (Rural), told PTI.

According to Deshmukh, the operation involved processing payments through “mule” accounts. “Externally, the unit appeared to be a finance or loan processing division of a company. However, its actual involvement was in facilitating payments for illegal betting applications,” he said.

The building had been taken on lease for the past two months, with the unit operational during this period, he said.

Speaking with The Express, Lalit Bokaria, Raj’s father, said that his son and Hritwik had known each other since childhood. Raj is said to have pursued a Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Pune.

According to the report, Raj was out on bail in a fraud case, where he is accused of cheating Pune-based edible oil traders of Rs 8.53 crore in 2021-2022. The Economic Offences Wing of Pune Police is investigating the case. Both Raj and Hritwik's families run edible oil businesses.

“I wasn’t in touch with him at all. After the 2022 issue, I stayed away from his activities. What I have learnt is that although he is being made a mastermind by the police, he was a mere employee at the firm. We have suffered heavily over the earlier issue. My wife is unwell and I am busy looking after her,” Lalit Bokaria told the publication.

According to the Enforcement Directorate, the projected proceeds of crime in the Mahadev betting app case amount to about Rs 6,000 crore.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published 18 May 2024, 10:41 IST

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