ED provisionally attaches INR 19 crores belonging to ‘Lottery King’ Martin, total now at INR 277 crores

Published on:

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday, December 23, provisionally attached ‘Lottery King’ Santiago Martin‘s immovable assets worth INR 19.59 crore in connection with the Sikkim lottery scam. The financial crime investigation agency earlier attached properties worth INR 258 crore belonging to Martin. The total attachment in the case now has reached INR 277.59 crore.

The attachment comes in at a time as Martin is believed to be funding Mamata Banjerjee’s AITMC national expansion. The investigation against Santiago Martin and his company M/s Future Gaming Solutions (P) Ltd (Presently M/s Future Gaming and Hotel Services (P) Ltd and formerly Martin Lottery Agencies Ltd) was initiated on the basis of a charge sheet, filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Anti Corruption Bureau, Cochin for cheating, criminal conspiracy and violation of the Lotteries (Regulation) Act. Later, the ED also initiated the money laundering probe against the accused.

Santiago Martin and others entered into a criminal conspiracy to violate the provisions of Lottery (Regulation) Act, 1998 and to obtain wrongful gain by cheating the Sikkim government and in furtherance of the same an agreement contrary to the provisions of the Act was dishonestly set up between Santiago Martin and officials of the Sikkim government by which M/s Martin Lottery Agency Ltd (Presently M/s Future Gaming and Hotel Services (P) Ltd) could practically run the Sikkim State Lottery and avoid the allowance of face value of the lottery tickets to the government as sales proceed to obtain wrongful gain,” said the agency in June 2019.

The charges pertain to non-remittance of sale proceeds to the Sikkim Government, non-remittance of unclaimed/undisbursed prize money back to the Sikkim Government, the printing of Sikkim Lottery tickets from a non-security press not empanelled by RBI/IBA, not returning the unsold tickets back to the Sikkim Government, not returning undisbursed prize amounts to the Sikkim Government and manipulation of date showing unsold prize-winning tickets as sold and claiming the same from Sikkim Government, and cheating the Government of Sikkim by entering into an agreement containing covenants contrary to the Lottery Regulation Act and Rules and thus deceive the Sikkim Government in not receiving the full sale proceeds of the lottery tickets. The investigation was initiated based on FIRs in Kerala for violation of the Lotteries Regulation Act, 2010 and there is no complaint from the government of Sikkim.

In a statement, the ED said that Santiago Martin, his companies, and others invested parts of the proceeds of crime generated from lottery business in immovable properties through more than 40 companies, which were incorporated in the name of their family members and other associates to project the same as untainted properties.

Santiago Martin, his companies Ms. Future Gaming and Hotel Services Pvt Ltd, Martin Builders Pvt Ltd, Daison Land, and Development Pvt Ltd acquired immovable properties worth Rs 19.59 crore from the loans and advances that were given by Santiago Martin and his family members. The ED said it is further probing the matter.

In the last assembly elections (Tamil Nadu, West Bengal in 2021), Martin’s Future Gaming donated INR 100 crores to an electoral trust which donated INR 209 crores to BJP out of the total available corpus of INR 245.72 crores. The All India Federation of Lottery Trade & Allied Industries (AIFLTAI), an umbrella organization of lottery distributors, stockists, agents, etc., where Martin exerts significant influence has recently written to the GST Group of Ministers and Home Minister Amit Shah for regulation and higher taxation of online gaming.