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Santiago Martin’s Future Gaming Leads Electoral Bond Purchases Amid Legal Scrutiny

"Santiago Martin's Future Gaming and Hotels Dominates Electoral Bond Purchases Amid Legal Controversies"

Santiago Martin’s Future Gaming and Hotels Dominates Electoral Bond Purchases Amid Legal Controversies.

Future Gaming and Hotels, headed by Santiago Martin, commonly known as ‘Lottery Martin’, emerged as the top purchaser of electoral bonds in the recent data release by the Election Commission. The company reportedly bought bonds worth Rs 1,300 crore between 2019 and 2024, highlighting its significant financial influence in political funding.

Martin’s journey from a laborer in Myanmar to a major player in the lottery business is notable. Starting at a young age, he built a vast marketing network for lottery sales across India. His firm, Future Gaming and Hotels, operates in various states where lotteries are legal, boasting a workforce of over 1,000 employees.

Future Gaming and Hotel Services MD and lottery baron Santiago Martin. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

However, Martin’s success has been marred by legal controversies. He has faced allegations of fraud against the Sikkim government, crackdowns by law enforcement agencies for illegal lottery operations, and raids by the Income Tax Department for tax evasion and financial irregularities. Recently, the Enforcement Directorate attached his assets worth Rs 457 crore under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in connection with a case related to the alleged loss of over Rs 900 crore to the Sikkim government.

Also read about: Political parties redeem 22,030 out of 22,217 electoral bonds purchased between April 1, 2019, and February 15, 2024; SBI Electoral Bonds

Beyond the lottery business, Martin’s ventures include a homeopathy medical college and hospital, a television music channel, and real estate properties.

The Election Commission’s recent data release also shed light on significant political contributions, with the ruling BJP receiving the highest amount of donations followed by the Congress party. However, the disclosure only included the amount donated by each entity or individual without specifying the recipient party.

Meanwhile, legal proceedings related to electoral bonds and electoral reforms continue. The Supreme Court is set to hear an application by the Election Commission seeking modification of its earlier order, while a separate petition challenging the exclusion of the Chief Justice of India from a panel for the selection of election commissioners is also scheduled for a hearing.

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