Sontu hiding details of Dubai visits, 12 a/cs: Cops

  • | Friday | 22nd September, 2023

Nagpur: The investigation officer in the Anant Jain alias Sontu Gondia case argued during the anticipatory bail hearing in the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court that the accused in the ₹58 crore fraud had travelled thrice to Dubai, from where the online gaming and gambling app was operated, but was not divulging details of these visits to police. The matter is now closed for order.Justice MW Chandwani heard the marathon arguments from both sides in a packed court room, and will deliver a verdict on September 26. Till then, Sontu has to keep appearing before the police on alternate days.Investigation officer senior inspector Shubhangi Deshmukh strongly opposed the bail, saying Sontu had given 12 bank accounts to the victim to transfer cash for gambling. One account holder or bank agent said he had no clue who had opened that account online in his name, and another from Gujarat admitted having allowed Sontu to open the account against some monthly payment, she told the court, adding some of Sontus associates are still in Dubai.Sontu and his associates first identify victims, lure them with substantial gains, and then share login IDs and passwords, she said, adding that seizure of electronic and communication devices from him will help the investigation team understand how the gaming and gambling apps are doctored to ensure operators win and gamers lose.Explaining how the international mafia syndicate is linked to the online doctored gaming and betting app, counsel Shreerang Bhandarkar, who was assisting the prosecution, highlighted before the court that Sontu was merely a facilitator while the originator of the racket was receiving the proceeds of the crime in London and Dubai. The network of this doctored gaming app is not only spread across India but also abroad. It cannot be ruled out that such proceeds of crime are being used in nefarious and dangerous activities, including terrorism, with places like Dubai coming to fore, said Bhandarkar. He added that a highly suspicious affidavit was filed before the sessions court for bail with a signature of Sontu, when he was in Dubai.Assistant government pleader Sushil Ghodeshwar too argued against bail saying Sontu had used a doctored gaming app, for which seizing electronic devices from him was crucial.The pre-lunch session witnessed defence counsel Devendra Chauhan came down heavily on the police, blaming them for trusting complainant Vikrant Agrawal but not making any effort to dig into his source of cash ₹78 crore, which he had invested in gambling. Chauhan added the complainant also had debt of ₹18 crore and defaulted in payments to a bank while splurging cash in gambling.Chauhan, who labelled reporting about the case as a media trial, pleaded before the court that the phone of one of his juniors, Kshitij Patil, too was seized by the investigation team, claiming he was pressurizing the complainant.Later, countering the investigation officers claim of Sontus repeated Dubai visits, Chauhan claimed frequent travelling outside the country cannot be equated to criminal culpability. He also offered to help the police recover the mobile phone from Sontu without the police arresting him.

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