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Bollywood Stars in Hot Water: ED Uncovers Massive Money Laundering Scheme with Fairplay App



ED Uncovers Massive Money Laundering Scheme Involving Fairplay App

MUMBAI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has revealed a complex money laundering operation linked to the Fairplay app, an illegal sports betting platform. The investigation, spearheaded by the Mumbai Zonal Office, has uncovered agreements made by Fairplay with Indian agencies through foreign entities based in Dubai and Curacao, which were found to have bypassed due diligence procedures.

Investigation Findings

The ED’s probe disclosed that Fairplay amassed funds via numerous bogus shell bank accounts. These funds were subsequently funneled through a labyrinth of accounts linked to shell entities before ending up in pharmaceutical companies engaged in bogus billing practices. Further scrutiny revealed that these funds were siphoned off to overseas shell entities located in Hong Kong SAR, China, and Dubai. To date, more than 400 bank accounts linked to these shell entities are under examination as authorities trace the utilization of public funds collected by Fairplay.

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Search Operations and Seizures

On 12 June 2024, the ED conducted extensive search operations across 19 locations in Mumbai and Pune under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. These operations resulted in the seizure and freezing of movable assets, including cash, bank funds, Demat account holdings, and luxury watches, collectively worth approximately Rs. 8 crore. Additionally, various incriminating documents and digital devices were confiscated.

The investigation was initiated following an FIR lodged by the Nodal Cyber Police, Mumbai, based on a complaint from Viacom18 Media Pvt Limited. The complaint, filed under various sections of the IPC, 1860, Information Technology Act, 2000, and Copyright Act, 1957, alleged that Fairplay Sport LLC and others had caused revenue losses exceeding Rs. 100 crore through their illegal activities.

Illegal IPL Streaming Case

Fairplay app came under intense scrutiny for its unauthorized streaming of the 2023 IPL matches, which were exclusively licensed to Viacom18. The broadcasting giant had secured these rights for Rs. 20,500 crore for the period from 2023 to 2027, covering 74 matches annually in 2023 and 2024, 84 matches in 2025 and 2026, and 94 matches in 2027. The illegal streaming by Fairplay led to significant financial losses for Viacom18, who hold the sole rights to stream the tournament across the Indian subcontinent.

Fairplay, a betting platform tailored for the Indian market, offers a wide array of sports and entertainment wagering options. It operates on both iOS and Android systems and is particularly popular for cricket, followed by football and tennis. According to its website, Fairplay streams all sports matches live, allowing users to “watch and win at the same time.”

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Celebrities Under Scrutiny

Bollywood actors Tamannaah Bhatia and Sanjay Dutt have been summoned by the Maharashtra Cyber Cell for allegedly promoting the Fairplay app, which encouraged people to watch IPL matches on the betting platform. Both actors are expected to provide statements in court. Previously, the statements of musician Badshah and actress Jacqueline Fernandez have been recorded in connection with this case.

Connection to Mahadev Betting App

Fairplay is linked to the Mahadev online gaming app, which facilitates unauthorized betting on a variety of live games, including football, cricket, poker, and others. Last year, actors Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor were interrogated by the ED for their involvement in advertising the Mahadev betting app. The app came under the ED’s radar following a lavish ₹200 crore all-cash wedding in the UAE in February of last year.

Ongoing Investigation

The ED’s investigation is still ongoing, with further searches and scrutiny of financial trails expected. The Directorate remains committed to unraveling the full extent of Fairplay’s illegal operations and bringing all involved parties to justice.


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