West Bengal Police drops criminal cases against Future Gaming coinciding with electoral bonds donation to TMC

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The Kolkata Police closed two cheating and criminal conspiracy cases against the lottery distributor Future Gaming and Hotel Services Private Ltd around the same time the company first donated to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) through electoral bonds, reported news portal ThePrint.

As earlier reported, Coimbatore based Future Gaming and Hotel Services turned out to be the largest donor of electoral bonds to political parties while West Bengal ruling Trinamool Congress is the second largest beneficiary of electoral bonds. The lottery distributor had donated Rs 542 crore to the Trinamool Congress — its highest contribution to any political party. West Bengal is the major state for the lottery distributor in terms of revenue.

Future Gaming, which runs the popular ‘Dear Lottery’ game in West Bengal and Sikkim, made its first donation to the TMC on 14 January, 2022 as per data released by State Bank of India through the Election Commission. This was around the time when the Kolkata Police, which was investigating cheating and criminal conspiracy charges against the company, closed two cases against it, said the report by ThePrint.

However, two closure reports from the Kolkata Police — one from December 2021 and the second from January 2022 — have thrown the ED’s investigation into uncertainty.

Under the PMLA, the ED can undertake an inquiry only if there is a First Information Report (FIR) registered under those offences that are mentioned as predicate offences in the PMLA.

The West Bengal Police cited want of evidence and “a mistake of law” in the cases, and, according to ED officers, came despite the agency conveying to the police department and the trial court that it had found evidence to substantiate its allegations.

Trinamool Congress denied any knowledge of this since donations by electoral bonds are made anonymously.