ED Probes Lottery King Santiago Martin For Alleged Money Laundering In ₹ 1,368 Crore Electoral Bond Scheme Contributions

ED Probes Lottery King Santiago Martin For Alleged Money Laundering In ₹ 1,368 Crore Electoral Bond Scheme Contributions

The ED had frozen Rs 457 crore assets last May linked to Martin for alleged money laundering in the case of ``fraudulent" sales of Sikkim lotteries in Kerala.

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Friday, March 15, 2024, 05:24 PM IST
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The top donor to political parties Lottery King Santiago Martin controlled Future Gaming and Hotel Services made contributions of over Rs 1,368 crore Electoral Bond Scheme (EBS) between 2019-2024 is being probed by ED for money laundering. He was  also chargesheeted by CBI for  Future Gaming's alleged involvement in retailing Sikkim government lotteries in Kerala, causing a loss of  Rs 910 crore to the northern state between April 2009 and August 2010. 

Lottery Distributor Moves To Punjab HC Alleging Scam

Punjab based lottery distributor Arunjot Singh Sodhi had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court in August 2023 alleging Rupees 900 crore lottery scam in the state with Martin influencing government policies to favor Future Gaming. 

Martin Rise Attracting Legal Cases

Martin has been on the central investigative agencies radar  for over a decade had diversified from lottery and gambling to healthcare, education, hospitality and realty sectors but managed by remain low profile from public gaze. Lottery Martin became a household name with the two- digit lottery craze that swept the southern states in early 1990s and even contributed Rs 2 crore to the then ruling CPI (M) mouthpiece ``Deshabhimani" during the height of Pinarayi Vijayan and VS Achutanandan bitter feud in Kerala,” claimed a former Martin associate. Martin even produced a Tamil film ``Ilaignan" with a budget of Rs 20 crore written by the then chief minister M Karunanidhi based on Maxim Gorky's  ``The Mother. "

The ED had frozen Rs 457 crore assets last May linked to Martin for  alleged money laundering in the case of ``fraudulent" sales of Sikkim lotteries in Kerala. 

Earlier the ED had attached properties valued at Rs 19.5 crore in December 2021 of Martin for alleged money laundering and investing in the names of family members through 40 shell companies. 

Another Rs 100 crore in cash was seized in a 2015 ED raid at Siliguri, West Bengal meant for Bihar elections. 

Legal Cases On Martin

The Income Tax department  had also conducted nation wide raids in 2019 at 70 locations linked to Martin. Martin was arrested in 2012 and jailed in Vellore Prison under the Goondas Act by the Jayalalitha regime. 

Martin Foundation claimed to be pioneer in live broadcast of lottery draws on television with “relentless innovation and market research” winning over trust of the public and enhancing transparency in  lottery results. 

He started as a labourer in Yangon, Myanmar and returned to Tamil Nadu in 1988 to start the lottery business and expanding to neighbouring states of Kerala and Karnataka and further securing permission to operate in Sikkim, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra. 

“Martin was forced to move out after Tamil Nadu banned lotteries in 2003,” a former associate of the lottery king said. 

Future Gaming's Controversial Rise

He established Future Gaming to become the master distributor of Sikkim lottery retailing in southern states causing an alleged Rs 910 crore loss.

Martin had several run-ins with central agencies including the Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate for  alleged tax frauds and money laundering. Future Gaming paid the highest GST of Rs 6,000 crore to West Bengal in 2017 and the company reported annual turnover of Rs 20,000 crore in 2021-22 claiming to provide direct and indirect employment to 10 lakh people. 

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