ED investigates payments and links to 16 MPs

Hyderabad: Transactions in crores and lakhs of rupees, as payments to Tollywood and Bollywood actors for endorsing casino events hosted by a Chikoti Praveen Kumar in Goa and neighboring Nepal, are under the management lens of application (ED). The organizer was summoned for questioning over alleged illegal monetary transactions.

According to information received by the ED, Kumar paid Rs 1 crore to Mallika Sherawat, Rs 40 lakh to Eesha Rebba, Rs 20 lakh to Ganesh Acharya and Rs 15 lakh to Mumaith Khan to appear in promotional videos.

These payments are under review.

The ED is also investigating the possibility that Kumar is using the actors’ presence to mask hawala transactions at casino events.

As many as 10 actors attended a casino event hosted by Kumar and a Madhav Reddy at the Mechi Crown Hotel, Jhapa in Nepal, bordering Siliguri district in West Bengal, from June 10-13, following of which the ED launched an investigation earlier this month.

ED officials suspect the accused of transporting money from hawala transactions to India.

Apart from actors, Kumar is also said to have ties with more than 16 MPs in Indian states.

After searching the residences of Praveen and Reddy in Saidabad and Bowenpally, ED officials served notices on Kumar, asking him to appear for questioning on Monday. ED officials seized cell phones, laptops and other electronic gadgets from Kumar as part of its investigation, under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Kumar is said to be an agent for a Chennai-based jewelry merchant for transporting unaccounted cash.

For the event in Nepal, Bollywood actor Amisha Patel made a promotional video which went viral on social media. In the video, she said she would be participating in the event and asked the guests to have fun. Other actors who have held promotional events for Kumar’s casino events include Meghana Naidu, Wilson and Govinda.

Responding to the ED notices, Kumar said he would appear before the ED on Monday. “ED officials have doubts and I will clarify it by attending the interrogation. Casinos are legal in Nepal and Goa, India,” Kumar said.

Madhav Reddy, meanwhile, reportedly used an MLA sticker of Telangana minister Malla Reddy.

Responding to the allegations, the minister said his MLA sticker had been misused by Madhav Reddy and denied any association with the accused. “The MLA sticker, in March 2022, was removed from the vehicle and discarded. Unknown people may have used it,” the minister said.