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“Money Laundering Probe: Chhattisgarh CM’s Advisor and OSD Questioned Over Online Betting Racket”

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is currently interrogating Vinod Verma, the political advisor to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, and Manish Banchor, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), as part of a money laundering investigation related to an online betting scheme in the state. Another government official named Ashish Verma is also scheduled for questioning later this week.

These interrogations follow recent raids on locations linked to Vinod Verma and two of his OSDs, linked to alleged irregularities involving the Mahadev App. Four individuals, including a police officer, were arrested following these raids.

The ED claims that senior officials within the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) received kickbacks to permit the illegal gaming app to operate within Chhattisgarh. The arrests included a Chhattisgarh Police Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Chandrabhushan Verma, a businessman Satish Chandrakar, and hawala operators Anil Dammani and Sunil Dammani.

The case revolves around the Mahadev App, an online gaming platform accused of fraudulent activities. The ED conducted searches at approximately 10 locations, including those associated with Vinod Verma and his OSDs. A businessman in Bhilai was also subject to a raid. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel responded to the raids on social media.

The ED alleges that ASI Chandra Bhushan Verma played a key role in distributing money received from Dubai-based promoters of the Mahadev Online Book, with these funds being distributed to senior police officers and politically connected individuals within the Chief Minister’s Office as “protection money.” The agency suggests that this was part of an effort to protect the app’s operations.

ED investigations indicate that although ASI Chandra Bhushan Verma was not a high-ranking police officer, his connection with Vinod Verma and monetary support received from kickbacks enabled him to wield influence over senior officers. ASI Verma confessed to receiving and disbursing substantial monthly bribes. The ED alleges that bribe payments increased after police actions in May 2022, aimed at weakening the cases against the app’s operators and preventing future legal actions. The agency further claims that high-ranking officials within the CMO received significant kickbacks.

The investigation revealed that the app’s promoters opened numerous bank accounts in the names of unwitting individuals, primarily within Chhattisgarh, while operating call centers abroad to assist players and panel operators.

Political reactions to the situation have been strong, with the Congress party criticizing the ruling BJP government for alleged manipulation ahead of upcoming elections. The Congress expressed confidence in its support base and vowed not to be affected by such tactics.

The ED investigation, initiated earlier in the year based on multiple state police FIRs, centers around transactions amounting to nearly Rs 5,000 crore conducted through the platform. The recent raids were prompted by statements from suspects indicating that money earned through the app was funneled to Vinod Verma and Baghel’s OSDs.

Rupesh Kumar Singh
Rupesh Kumar Singh
Rupesh Kumar Singh, a seasoned journalist since 2005, excels in crime and business journalism, known for accuracy and insightful reporting.


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