MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The mastermind of the cricket betting syndicate is said to be a Dubai-based Dawood Ibrahim man named Sunil Ramchandani alias Sunil Dubai while the principal bookie referred to as ‘Jupiter’ in phone intercepts is a person called Chandresh. He is reportedly close to several politicians, builders and police officers.
“The hawala route in the payout of money indicates links to Dawood gang,” said a Delhi Police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The increase in the seizure of ‘dabba phones’ – phones on which betting rates are taken from Dubai – in recent days from betting syndicates seem to confirm that Dawood’s men control much of this cash-spinning industry running into thousands of crores.”
While Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar didn’t elaborate on the Dubai-Karachi connection, terming the link as that of the ‘Mumbai underworld’ whose kingpin lives abroad, sources in the special cell said that a team was probing Dawood’s connection with the bookies and joining the dots using tip-offs gathered.
“We’re trying to figure out whether the Dubai number used by the bookie kingpin actually originated in Dubai or somewhere else. The wires of this operation extend to Karachi, Dubai, Jaipur, Kolkata and Ahmedabad,” said a Delhi cop, adding that the teams are in most of these places for further investigations.
Intelligence sources said Sunil Dubai started his operations in Mumbai about 20 years ago before shifting base to Dubai. “He used to shuttle between Dubai and Mumbai to coordinate operations till a few years ago,” said a senior Mumbai police officer. Mumbai police issued a look-out notice after his name cropped up in betting cases involving a number of bookies. From Dubai, Sunil applied for anticipatory bail in a Mumbai court, but his plea was rejected last month.
Sunil took over the betting business after Sharad Shetty, also a Dawood man, was assassinated by rival gangster Chhota Rajan’s men in Dubai 10 years ago. Sunil’s family is believed to be in London. He frequently travels to Karachi, where Dawood and his right hand man Chhota Shakeel are based. Sources in the police said he heads a business worth over Rs 500 crore spread across Mumbai, Delhi, Dubai and Karachi.
It is learnt that a few years ago, he bought most of an apartment building near Mantralaya, the Maharashtra government headquarters.
“The five-storey building was initially occupied by Indian Navy officials. He bought most of the flats except one owned by the state government. He is trying to capture that too. He intends to redevelop it once he manages to buy the last flat,” said a person with knowledge of the deal.
Several Mumbai bookies owe their allegiance to him. “He decides the betting rate and the others follow it. Cricket fixing cannot happen without his go-ahead,” said sources.
As for Jupiter/Chandresh, sources said he shifted his base to Delhi some time ago after Mumbai police began cracking down on bookies. He had operated from Mumbai along with Ahmedabad-based Naresh Majethia for close to 15 years ago. The police are said to be gathering more information on Chandresh’s operations here.
It all began with the interception of calls between Dubai and Karachi that had alarmed the special cell who mistook them first as “coded exchange between terrorists”. But, further interceptions led to the unraveling of connections between IPL players and bookies.
The cops will now question Ramesh Vyas, a bookie arrested by the Mumbai police on Tuesday, who was the link between Indian and Pakistani ‘bookies’ and had exchanged around 30 calls to Pakistan, an officer said.