The curious case of Santiago Martin, the 'lottery king'

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Most old timers who live in 6th Cross Street, Gandhipuram, remember Santiago Martin a.k.a ‘Lottery’ Martin, who surrendered at a Tirupur court in connection with a cheating case, as a friendly, cheerful neighbour.

The lottery kingpin who controls a huge multi-crore lottery empire across the country operated from a tiny office in Gandhipuram and only recently moved out to the outskirts near Thudiyalur.

“The family retained the office until recently as it brought them good luck,” said one of his former neighbours. “Although we knew that he was involved in the lottery business, not many estimated Mr Martin to have raked in so much money,” he added.

During the last few years, Mr Martin has been spotted in Coimbatore social circles quite frequently and has been involved in various real estate deals in the city. According to reliable sources, Mr Martin owns properties worth at least Rs 2,000 crore in Coimbatore alone.

“Anybody who wants to sell property that is worth many crores in Coimbatore reaches out only to ‘Lottery’ Martin as he is one of the few who can afford it here,” said city-based businessman whose land deal with Martin had gone sour.

Using his financial clout, Mr Martin had also successfully blended with the affluent business community and is a member of various prestigious social clubs in and around the city. He is the preferred donor for various social organizations here.

Back in 2007, Martin was named as an accused in the illegal lottery trade busted by the crime branch police and was also nabbed by the police for investigations. “We had interrogated him and later released on conditional bail,” a police officer said. The officer, however, declined to comment on the present status of the case.

According to police sources, Martin’s empire is worth at least Rs 7,000 crore and he has a strong presence in all the southern states as well as many other states in the North East. “He is also an accused in several cases registered across the country for illegal lottery trade and yet he operates freely due to his financial and political clout,” added a senior police officer.

The police dragnet seems to be finally closing in on Mr Martin and his family as the R.S Puram police on Monday arrested his brother-in-law and close aide Mr John Britto for attacking the manager of a retail outlet in the city.

Rags to riches?

The meteoric rise of Santiago Martin has surprised people who knew him and those who didn’t. If anyone wants to strike a real estate or a business deal in Kovai, Martin is the destination. Accused in many cases across India for illegal lottery trade and yet he operates freely. Clout!

Know about 'Lottery king'

*Martin was the leader in lottery business till 2003, the year when the AIADMK government banned the Rs 15,000 crore lottery business.

*Known for his connections in almost all southern states is facing a huge tax evasion case in Bengaluru as well. He failed to strike a chord with the new governments formed in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

"Anybody who wants to sell property that is worth many crores in Coimbatore reaches out only to 'Lottery' Martin as he is one of the few who can afford it here," says a businessman

"He is also an accused in several cases registered across the country for illegal lottery trade and yet he operates freely due to his financial and political clout," says a senior police officer

A pan-india empire built on a base of time, craft and cunning

*Seeing a dawn in every dusk: Martin allegedly has a pan-India empire with his business extending from the North-east and entire South India, His business is worth Rs 7,000 crore

*Cosying up with the DMK: Though a huge political controversy revolved around Martin in neighbouring Kerala, M. Karunanidhi entertained him to produce his ambitious film, Ilaignan.

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