KOLKATA: In a sensational development, the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday raided offices of ‘Lottery King’ Santiago Martin, a native of Coimbatore, in different parts of the city and Siliguri in north Bengal and seized a staggering amount of almost Rs 100 crore.
The sleuths, accompanied by police, began the search and seizure operations at noon and raided Martin’s two houses in the metropolis and several others in Siliguri taken on rent by his company that ran lotteries. The teams were surprised when they stumbled upon wads of Rs 1,000 currency notes packed in trolley bags and gunny bags. They unearthed Rs 54 crore at a house in south Kolkata owned by a former judge but let out to Martin’s firm. They also found Rs 21 crore at another house in the western part of the city.
One of Martin’s employees stayed at one of the houses and ran an office. The sleuths also seized Rs 29 crore in cash during the raids in Siliguri. Counting of the seized cash went on till late night as the officials had to obtain currency counting machines from nearby branches of the SBI and purchase a number of steel trunks. The sleuths suspect that the cash was brought to West Bengal and was supposed to be sent to Bihar before the Assembly elections there next month. Martin ran the Rs 7,000-crore nationwide lottery business, which he started with the new two-digit lottery, and expanded his business to Kerala and Karnataka and subsequently, to Sikkim, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra. Though he hails from Coimbatore, he could not run lotteries in Tamil Nadu where it is banned. He was earlier in jail for eight months after being arrested by the CBI.
He was a DMK member but later tried to sever his ties with the party. Prior to that, he had produced a film based on a script written by DMK chief M Karunanidhi in 2011. There are 32 cases of lottery fraud against Martin in Kerala and last year, he was chargesheeted by the CBI in seven of them. There are charges against him for defrauding the Sikkim government of Rs 4,500 crore as he allegedly did not deposit the sale proceeds of the Sikkim Lottery. The sleuths seized several computers and hard discs as well.