The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Saturday that it has provisionally attached movable assets worth Rs 409.92 crore in a lottery scam case involving Santiago Martin, better known as 'Lottery King'. The ED has attached various immovable and movable assets of Future Gaming & Hotel Services under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).
The ED in December had provisionally attached Martin's immovable assets worth INR 19.59 crore in connection with the Sikkim lottery scam. The financial crime investigation agency before December had attached properties worth INR 258 crore belonging to Martin.
ED has provisionally attached movable assets worth Rs.409.92 Crore under PMLA, 2002 in the case of Lottery scam against M/s. Future Gaming & Hotel Services Pvt. Ltd. & its various sub-distributors/area-distributors.
— ED (@dir_ed) April 2, 2022
Future Gaming & Hotel Services Private Limited is led by Santiago Martin who built his business empire by printing and selling lottery tickets organised by state governments. Having started out as a labourer in Yangon, Myanmar, he returned to India, starting his business in Tamil Nadu in 1988, and slowly expanding the business to Karnataka and Kerala. But in 2003, Martin had to take his business outside Tamil Nadu, when the Jayalalitha government banned lotteries.
His business now primarily distributes West Bengal and North-East state government lotteries. He is also believed to be funding the national expansion of Mamata Banerjee's AITMC. He once produced a Kollywood movie Ilaignan with DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi as a scriptwriter. Operating a heavily regulated business, he is known to side with parties in power. Martin Foundation website says he was also the “Consul General for the ‘REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA’, and helped assist the developing Liberian economy by boosting the lottery industry in that country.
Forget Adani and Ambani. The man to watch out for is lottery king Santiago Martin and who all he funds. Interesting times ahead in Indian politics.
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) December 4, 2021
His wife went on to become the Vice General Secretary of the SRM-founder headed Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi (IJK), a political party. In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, she shared the stage with the then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. In the presence of the National General Secretary of the party, Ram Madhav, Martin's son Charles Jose Martin joined the BJP in 2015.
During the 2021 assembly elections (Tamil Nadu, West Bengal), Martin's Future Gaming donated INR 100 crores to an electoral trust which donated INR 209 crores to the 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.