- Santiago Martin faces around 32 cases of lottery fraud in Kerala
- The lottery scandal kicked up several controversies in Kerala until the Centre banned the sale
Starting off his operations in Bengaluru, Martin spread his tentacles to other parts of the country, through an entrenched nexus of top politicians, police officers, tax officials and scamsters, even after the Karnataka government banned single-digit lotteries in 2007.
Martin,widely referred to as the ‘lottery king, faces around 32 cases of lottery fraud in Kerala, with the CBI submitting chargesheets in seven. Apart from Martin, the accused in the CBI cases include John Brito, John Kennedy, N Jayamurghan and A Sakhtivel. Martin came under the spotlight in Kerala in 2008 after he contributed Rs 2 crore to the CPM daily Deshabhimani. He was selling Sikkim and Bhutan lottery tickets in the state then.
Martin is also accused of defrauding the Sikkim government of Rs 4,500 crore by skimming proceeds from the Sikkim lottery in Kerala since 2005. Of the Rs 4,752 crore worth lottery tickets that had been sold in Kerala during 2008-10, Martin’s firms had paid only Rs 143 crore to the Sikkim government. It was eventually found that there were massive discrepancies in the number of authorised Sikkim lotteries and the number of lotteries Martin's agency printed and sold in Kerala. There were also discrepancies with the winners announced.
The lottery scandal kicked up several controversies in Kerala until the Centre banned the sale of Sikkim lotteries in the State for two years from December 2012.
Martin was reportedly very close to several political leaders in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, including DMK chief M Karunanidhi. In 2011, he produced a Rs 20 crore Tamil film called Ilaignan, based on a story written by Karunanidhi himself. Pari Rajan, who hails from Kolar in Karnataka, was Martin's right-hand man. Rajan was working with Martin Lottery Agencies Ltd since 1995 and was key in helping Martin beat the security frameworks and get through to people holding important positions.
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Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:39 PM IST