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Lottery King Frequents Kolkata, Cops Clueless

Santiago shifted base to WB, funded some politicians; operated from rented houses after Karnataka, Kerala police were hot on his trail

Published: 07th October 2015 03:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th October 2015 03:18 AM   |  A+A-

KOLKATA:  Lottery king Santiago Martin has been  frequenting the city, though a lookout notice has been issued against him by the central probe agencies.

Ironically, the Kolkata Police never got a whiff of it all.

Martin has practically shifted his base to Kolkata, after being hounded in South India with several criminal cases lodged against him in Karnataka and Kerala. He has funded some politicians in West Bengal since then.

A week before his company’s offices here and in Siliguri were raided by the Income Tax Department and Enforcement Directorate last month and cash in gunny bags and soft luggage seized, Martin attended a family function of one of his distributors.

The ED is probing a case against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, as a big portion of the seized cash could have been sent to Dubai via hawala transactions.

Other than Nagarajan, whom the sleuths nabbed, the ED is looking for Rasul, who was in charge of the cash section of Martin’s lottery business.

Though the lottery ticket distributors and agents arefrom West Bengal, Martin had through Nagarajan appointed Senthil Kumar, Patrick, Alexander, David and Nagarjun, all from South India and now hunted by the sleuths, to run the business.

Nagarajan first set foot in the state through a middle level politician during the previous Left Front regime. But sensing a change of power in 2011, he befriended several district level leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress.

After the Kerala fiasco wherein Martin donated to the CPM mouthpiece Deshabhimani, which created a furore, Nagarajan stopped making direct payments to Bengal politicians.

Instead, he would direct the distributors and agents to pay the politicians during elections.

Sleuths have discovered that not just Dubai, Martin maintained a network in Malaysia, Singapore and other South East Asian countries. He also siphoned off funds through hawala transactions and parked them there.

Nagarajan and Rasul were mainly involved in handling of cash.

Along with the other employees, they operated from rented houses or flats mainly in residential areas.

The CCTVs were installed not only on office premises, but also on approach streets to monitor vehicles and people taking the route. The offices also had alarm systems.

Though Martin frequented the city, he never went to those offices. To keep himself off the radar of probe agencies, he would hold meetings in lesser known hotels or guest houses to take vital decisions on running his lottery business.

Interestingly, his daily revenue from Bengal alone was around `200 crore.

As lottery is not banned in the state, Martin’s business continues to thrive with three draws being conducted each day and the people getting cheated as none of them receive the prizes announced.

Sources said Martin’s business thrived due to his proximity to some top Bengal officials, even as several criminal cases were lodged against him in other states.



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