Top buyers of electoral bonds are ‘Lottery King’ and Megha Engineering

Lottery giant Future Gaming and Hotel Services bought 1,368 electoral bonds worth Rs 1,368 crore.
Top buyers of electoral bonds are ‘Lottery King’ and Megha Engineering

India’s leading lottery company headed by a controversial businessman is the top purchaser of electoral bonds, an initial analysis of the data released by the Election Commission of India has revealed. 

Other large buyers include Hyderabad-based infrastructure giant Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Limited, a Reliance-linked company QwikSupply Chain, mining conglomerate Vedanta, a subsidiary of the Kolkata-based Sanjiv Goenka group, among others.

Lottery giant Future Gaming and Hotel Services bought 1,368 bonds worth Rs 1,368 crore. The Coimbatore-based company with a turnover of Rs 7,000 crore is headed by Martin Santiago, also known as ‘Lottery King’ Martin. The company has been under investigation for money laundering.  

The second largest buyer is the Megha group of companies, including Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Limited (MEIL) and Western U.P. Power Transmission Company Ltd (WUPPTCL). MEIL bought 966 electoral bonds each worth Rs 1 crore — totalling Rs 966 crore. WUPPTCL bought bonds worth Rs 220 crore, bringing Megha Engineering’s total contribution to Rs 1,186 crore. 

The Megha group is headquartered in Hyderabad and has won several government projects, including many works part of the Rs 1.15 lakh crore Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project in Telangana, and the Rs 14,400 crore Thane-Borivali Twin Tunnel Project in Maharashtra. 

“The company was established in 1989 as a small fabrication unit. In due course of time, the unit made a name for itself in the manufacturing and engineering sector,” according to the company’s website. 

MEIL was also the largest donor to Prudent Electoral Trust in 2022-23, contributing Rs 83 crore to the trust that distributes money to political parties. In that year, Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) received Rs 90 crore from Prudent Electoral Trust. The company is believed to be close to the party.

Maharashtra-based Qwik Supply Chain Private Limited bought bonds worth Rs 410 crore. One of the company’s three directors, Tapas Mitra, is also the director of Reliance Eros Productions, Reliance Photo Films, Reliance Fire Brigades, and Reliance Polyester. According to his Linkedin profile, he is the head of accounts (consolidation) at Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Limited. 

Yashoda Super Speciality Hospital bought bonds worth Rs 162 crore.

Mining giant Vedanta Limited, founded by businessman Anil Agarwal and headquartered in Mumbai, purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 400 crore. The conglomerate is no stranger to controversy, including allegations of debt and multiple conflicts over its subversion of environmental regulations. Last year, it announced the “demerger” of its businesses.

Haldia Energy Limited purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 377 crore. Incorporated in 1994, it’s wholly owned by CESC Ltd, part of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group. It operates a thermal power plant at West Bengal’s Haldia to “cater [to] the growing power demand of the city of Kolkata and its suburbs”.

Last year, Al Jazeera reported that the Narendra Modi government allowed RP-Sanjiv Goenka to “bypass competitive processes to corner large coal reserves”.

Essel Mining and Industries Ltd purchased a total of Rs 224.5 crore through electoral bonds. Part of the Aditya Birla Group, it is among the country’s largest iron ore mining companies and producer of noble ferro alloys. In 2022, the company had written to the Madhya Pradesh government expressing concerns about threats of violence as it tried to execute its mining project in Buxwaha forest, nearly 200 km from Sanchi. In 2014, an expert panel tasked with investigating mining violations in Odisha held the firm guilty of illegal mining in the state’s forest areas.

Keventer Foodpark Infra Limited purchased electoral bonds to the tune of Rs 195 crore since 2019. The Kolkata-based firm is in the food processing sector and exports pulp and agricultural products.

MKJ Enterprises Limited, headquartered in Kolkata and dealing in steel, purchased nearly Rs 192 crore worth electoral bonds. Its chairman and managing director is Mahendra Kumar Jalan, also a director with several Keventer companies.

Madanlal Ltd purchased bonds to the tune of Rs 185.5 crore. The company is part of the MKJ Group and Keventer Group of companies. The company is engaged in the purchase and sale of securities and real estate.

The EC released SBI’s data on electoral bonds just before 8 pm on March 14 in the form of two files, one containing names of “purchasers” of electoral bonds and the other containing names of the political parties that encashed the bonds.

This is a developing story. 

This report is part of a collaborative project involving three news organisations – Newslaundry, Scroll, The News Minute – and independent journalists.

Project Electoral Bond includes Aban Usmani, Anand Mangnale, Anisha Sheth, Anjana Meenakshi, Ayush Tiwari, Azeefa Fathima, Basant Kumar, Dhanya Rajendran, Jayashree Arunachalam, Joyal, M Rajshekhar, Maria Teresa Raju, Nandini Chandrashekar, Neel Madhav, Nikita Saxena, Parth MN, Pooja Prasanna, Prajwal Bhat, Prateek Goyal, Pratyush Deep, Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Raman Kirpal, Ravi Nair, Sachi Hegde, Shabbir Ahmed, Shivnarayan Rajpurohit, Siddharth Mishra, Supriya Sharma, Tabassum Barnagarwala and Vaishnavi Rathore.

Editor's Note: This copy will be updated with more details.

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