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Mumbai: The income tax department has attached Rs 600 crore-worth stock investments of a businessman engaged in online betting through his own cloud-hosted app and website after raiding 29 premises in Mumbai, Delhi, Surat, Jaipur, Pune and Kolkata. The businessman and his key employees, mainly technical staff, used phones with virtual SIMs of foreign countries. The headquarters of the group was in Mumbai.
During the search, officers from the Directorate General of Income Tax (investigation), Mumbai, found cash worth Rs 3 crore, and jewellery worth Rs 81 lakh, which they attached, along with 30 bank accounts.
Officers said the website and the app were invitation-only, and the group maintained access to the clients and employees’ passwords. The group’s technical team, the backbone of the business, was based in India and it was in the process of shifting it to Dubai to take the illegal business beyond the ambit of Indian government agencies, said a source. Following the allotment of IDs and passwords to customers, points would be credited into their accounts after obtaining cash, which would be sent to Mumbai through hawala operators.
He said the group had set up a well-oiled network, even comprising area managers and agents in key cities, to generate business by bringing in more clients. “The main players in the group did not deal with clients directly, but through area managers and agents. The agents, spread countrywide, would collect cash from thousands of customers.”
An officer said, “The group had concealed its operations and income from law enforcement agencies. Its revenue, generated by betting/gambling and gaming activities, was unaccounted for and in cash. A preliminary investigation indicates cash turnover of more than Rs 600 crore in the current financial year, generated through these activities. Handwritten notes, documents and digital evidence reveals the modus operandi of cash generation and the introduction of more than Rs 450 crore in the books of accounts of over 35 group concerns from the financial year 2016-17 onwards. The evidence shows domestic and international hawala operations using various codewords and rupee tokens by employees, middlemen, (cash) couriers and angadiyas.”
To evade tracking by law enforcement agencies, the group frequently shifted its servers, changed web-links and masked IP addresses. It used the services of chartered accountants and middlemen in Mumbai, Jaipur and Delhi for introducing the proceeds of crime into books of accounts, which would thereon be invested in real estate and securities market.



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