‘Lottery King’ Martin is DMK’s biggest donor through Electoral Bonds

The disclosures made by the Election Commission earlier revealed that Santiago Martin topped the list of EB buyers and donated Rs 1,368 crore via Electoral Bonds.
‘Lottery King’ Martin is DMK’s biggest donor through Electoral Bonds

Fresh Electoral Bonds data reveals that Coimbatore-based ‘Lottery King’ Santiago Martin’s company Future Gaming and Hotel Services Pvt Ltd was the biggest donor to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) through the Electoral Bond (EB) route. The DMK received Rs 656.5 crore through EBs between April 2019 and November 2023, out of which Rs 509 crore was donated by Santiago Martin, as per numbers filed by the DMK to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover. Project Electoral Bond’s detailed profile of Santiago Martin had revealed his ties with the DMK. The disclosures made by the Election Commission earlier revealed that Santiago Martin topped the list of EB buyers and donated Rs 1,368 crore via Electoral Bonds. Who received the remaining bonds worth Rs 859 crore given by Martin is not known yet.  

DMK’s second highest donor through EBs is Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd (MEIL), who donated Rs 105 crore to the party. India Cements, owned by former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief N Srinivasan, has donated Rs 14 crore, followed by Sun TV Network Private Limited which donated Rs 10 crore. 

The new facts have come to light after the Election Commission released a set of electoral bond data that was handed over to the Supreme Court in November 2023 in a sealed cover. Parties submitted this data to the ECI after it asked them to submit the details of donations received through electoral bonds.  

While political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Bharatiya Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and others only revealed to the ECI the number of EBs and the amounts received through them on different dates, the DMK, AIADMK and JD(S) have named donors in their letter to the ECI.

According to the letter written by DMK treasurer TR Baalu, though the EB scheme does not require the details of the donor to be furnished to the donee, the donors to the DMK did reveal themselves nonetheless.  

Between April 2019 and March 2020, the DMK received Rs 45.50 crore from corporates like India Cements, MEIL, Ramco Cements, Apollo group, LMW company, Birla group, Triveni group and IRB. In October 2020, the party received Rs 80 crore from two companies – Future Gaming and Hotel Services Private Limited, and MEIL. It was between April 2021 and January 2022 that the DMK received the highest donations through EBs – Rs 306 crore. From April 2023 to November 2023, the party received another Rs 65 crore.

Future Gaming and Hotel Services Private Limited owned by Martin started purchasing EBs in October 2020 and the first purchase of electoral bonds for Rs 60 crore was donated to the DMK.

Read: The bond between 'Lottery King' Santiago Martin, political parties and probe agencies

Meanwhile, the All India Anna Dravida Kazhagam (AIADMK) received a total of Rs 6.05 crores via electoral bonds, all in the year 2019. Chennai Super Kings Cricket Ltd, a subsidiary of India Cements, donated the major chunk of Rs 5 crore. Coimbatore-based Lakshmi Machine Works Limited which manufactures special purpose machinery has donated Rs 1 crore and chairman of TVS Capital Funds Limited Gopal Srinivasan donated Rs 5 lakhs.

This report is part of a collaborative project involving three news organisations – Newslaundry, Scroll, The News Minute – and several 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 George, M Rajshekhar, Maria Teresa Raju, Nandini Chandrashekhar, 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, Siddhartha Mishra, Supriya Sharma, Sudipto Mondal, Tabassum Barnagarwala and Vaishnavi Rathore.

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