Electoral Bonds Lottery King’s Electoral Bond Saga: Unveiling Santiago Martin’s Political Patronage

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Electoral Bonds Lottery King’s Electoral Bond Saga: Unveiling Santiago Martin’s Political Patronage


The Election Commission of India (ECI) recently released the second list of electoral bonds, shedding light on significant political funding in the country. Among the prominent names that surfaced in this disclosure, Santiago Martin, popularly known as the ‘Lottery King’, grabbed attention. Martin’s company, Future Gaming and Hotel Services PR, made staggering contributions totaling ₹1,368 crore through electoral bonds between April 2019 and January 2024, constituting approximately 11 percent of the total electoral bonds sold over the past five years.

Electoral Bonds Lottery King’s Electoral Bond Saga: Unveiling Santiago Martin’s Political Patronage


Electoral Bond Beneficiaries

Analysis of the data from the State Bank of India’s electoral bonds list revealed that the primary beneficiary of Martin’s donations is the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Out of the ₹1,368 crore disbursed by Martin’s company, DMK received a substantial portion, accounting for 37 percent, totaling ₹509 crore.

Santiago Martin: A Brief Profile

Santiago Martin’s journey from a humble background to becoming a major player in the lottery business is noteworthy. Originally a labourer in Myanmar, Martin returned to India in 1988 and established the ‘Martin Lottery’ business in Tamil Nadu. Over the years, his operations expanded to several states across India, including Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, and northeastern states.

However, Martin’s rise to prominence was accompanied by controversies. The ‘Martin Lottery’ faced a ban in Tamil Nadu in 2003. Since 2011, Martin and his company have been under scrutiny for various allegations, including unpaid income tax, money laundering, and fraud.

Controversies and Allegations

Martin’s business dealings have been marred by multiple investigations and legal actions. In 2019, following questioning by income tax authorities, an accountant of a college run by Martin in Coimbatore was found dead. This incident raised suspicions and intensified scrutiny on Martin and his enterprises.

Several central agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax Department, have conducted raids and frozen assets linked to Martin. In 2023, the ED froze assets worth approximately ₹457 crore over allegations of fraudulent lottery sales in Kerala, resulting in significant losses to the Sikkim government.

Political Connections

Martin’s influence extends beyond the business realm into the political arena. He is known to have close ties with various political parties across India. In 2008, Martin donated ₹2 crore to the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s (CPI(M)) Kerala unit and its affiliated mouthpiece, headed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. However, due to internal disputes within the party, the donation was returned.

Moreover, Martin’s son-in-law, Aadhav Arjuna, is reported to be associated with Tamil Nadu’s DMK. Arjuna has recently joined the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), a Dalit political party, further indicating Martin’s entanglement in the state’s political landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Electoral Bonds Lottery King’s Electoral Bond Saga: Unveiling Santiago Martin’s Political Patronage

1. What are electoral bonds?

Electoral bonds are financial instruments introduced by the Government of India to facilitate donations to political parties. These bonds are issued by authorized banks and can be purchased by individuals and entities for making contributions to political parties.

2. How do electoral bonds work?

Electoral bonds function as bearer instruments, meaning they are not registered and the identity of the donor remains anonymous. These bonds can be purchased in specified denominations from authorized banks and can only be encashed by registered political parties within a prescribed time frame.

3. Why are electoral bonds controversial?

Electoral bonds have sparked controversy due to concerns regarding transparency and accountability in political funding. Critics argue that the anonymity provided by these bonds allows for opaque financing of political parties, potentially leading to the influence of undisclosed vested interests in the political process.

4. What is the significance of Santiago Martin’s electoral bond contributions?

Santiago Martin’s substantial contributions through electoral bonds highlight the scale of political funding by influential individuals and entities in India. His involvement raises questions about the nexus between business interests and political patronage, underscoring the need for greater transparency in campaign finance.

5. What actions have been taken regarding Santiago Martin’s business operations?

Santiago Martin and his company have faced multiple investigations and legal actions, including raids by central agencies and asset freezes. Allegations of tax evasion, money laundering, and fraud have contributed to the scrutiny surrounding his business activities.


The revelation of Santiago Martin’s significant electoral bond contributions underscores the complexities and challenges associated with political financing in India. As the debate over electoral transparency continues, the spotlight on individuals like Martin highlights the need for robust regulatory mechanisms to ensure accountability and integrity in the democratic process.

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