In seven charge-sheets filed against the ‘lottery king’ Santiago Martin, the CBI has alleged that he and his accomplices had defrauded the Sikkim Government of over ₹4,500 crore.
The CBI on Monday filed charge-sheets in the Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court here against Martin, who is the MD of Future Gaming Solutions, Chennai, and senior functionaries of Future Gaming and other companies which had printed, distributed, marketed and sold lottery tickets of the Sikkim Lottery Department.
The CBI had registered 32 cases in August 2011 relating to the ‘lottery scandal’ in Kerala, involving massive fraud in the Sikkim lottery business since 2005.
The seven chargesheets alleged that senior officials in the Sikkim Lottery Department had helped Martin’s company and other firms to defraud the government of over ₹4,500 crore. Of the ₹4,752-crore-worth lottery tickets that had been sold in Kerala in 2008-10, Martin’s firms had paid only Rs 143 crore to the Sikkim Government.POLITICAL SCAM
Martin, widely referred to as the ‘lottery king,’ whose company was a sub-distributor for lotteries in several North-Eastern States as well as Bhutan, has lottery business in several States and has faced a number of investigations for alleged fraud and tax evasion.
In Kerala, the ‘lottery scandal’ kicked up several controversies until the Centre banned the sale of Sikkim lotteries in the State for two years from December 15, 2012.
The scandal had assumed political tone when it was revealed that Santiago Martin had contributed ₹2 crore to the CPI(M) mouthpiece Deshabhimani . The controversy and the political fallout for the CPI(M) had forced the newspaper company to return the money to Martin. Congress leader and MLA V.D. Satheesan was in the forefront of the fight against the ‘lottery mafia.’
However, the CBI said Martin’s company had not caused any loss to the Kerala Government, though the investigations had been triggered by allegations that the Kerala Government had been cheated to the tune of ₹7,000 crore.
Apart from Martin, the accused in the CBI cases include John Brito, director, Future Gaming Solutions, Comibatore, and a relative of Martin’s; John Kennedy, a functionary of Megha Distributors, Palakkad, which is said to be owned by Martin; N. Jayamurghan of M.J. Associates, Madurai; and A. Sakhtivel of Mahalakshmi Offset Printers, Sivakasi. They have been charged with criminal conspiracy and cheating as well as under sections of the Lottery Regulation Act.