The investigation wing of the income tax department conducted searches yesterday in more than 70 premises belonging to Coimbatore-based lottery king Santiago Martin and his associates, spread across the length and breadth of the country.
According to media reports, tax authorities conducted searches in more than 22 premises in Coimbatore, 10 in Chennai, 18 in Kolkata, 5 in Mumbai, 3 in Delhi and 2 each in Hyderabad, Guwahati, Siliguri, Ranchi and Ludhiana.
Tax authorities also detained Martin for questioning at the Kolkata airport yesterday, while he was on his way to Chennai. Officials have announced that they have recovered at least Rs. 40 lakhs in cash from one of the premises and more seizures were expected to be announced soon, once the searches in all the premises were completed.
Martin’s companies are the official lottery distributor/marketing agent for various North-Eastern states such as Sikkim, Nagaland and Mizoram.
Martin however is no stranger to controversies and several investigative agencies are said to be probing his questionable dealings as lottery distributor of state governments. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed several chargesheets filed against Martin and his associates in lottery fraud cases involving the Kerala government.
In 2016, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached assets worth more than Rs. 122 crores allegedly belonging to Santiago Martin and his business associates, in a probe involving loss of revenue of Rs. 4,500 crores to the Sikkim government during a period when his firms were official lottery distributors of the state government.
Read about Kerala State Lotteries.