Bengaluru, May 27: The decision to hand over the investigation into the Lottery scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation was necessary as it is an empire that is a little over Rs 7,000 crore.
Pari Rajan who is being touted as the kingpin in the scam is in reality a small fry compared to the likes of Santiago Martin and Micheal who investigators say are the real brains behind this major scam. [Lottery scam: Karnataka CM announces CBI probe]
The Central Bureau of Investigation which is yet to take over the case will have its task cut out and if a thorough probe is conducted, the names of politicians not just in Karnataka, but in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Coimbatore and also in the North Eastern states will come tumbling out of the closet. [A lottery without paper: How the scam in Karnataka unfolded]
Interestingly, the names of politicians across all parties will come out if the CBI decides to dig really deep into the matter.
Santiago Martin empire under the scanner:
If one looks at the operating style of Pari Rajan, it becomes clear that it is very similar to how Martin alias Lottery Martin operated. Settling land deals, being seen at social events and in the backdrop running the Rs 7000 crore lottery scam was a style adopted by Martin who is a resident of Coimbatore.
Lottery Martin as he is popularly known used to reside at the 6th cross in Gandhinagaram, Coimbatore before he moved to Thudiyalur.
His empire was so vast that several persons had claimed that he owned property worth Rs 2000 crore. He was even arrested in connection with a land grabbing case in the year 2011.
Investigators who probed the lottery case in Karnataka say that the operating style of Rajan is very similar to that of Martin's. Rajan had memberships of several clubs and also took part in donation activities like Martin did.
The 2007 scam:
When the police in Coimbatore busted the lottery scam for the first time in 2007, the probe revealed that it had its ramifications in other states such as Karnataka and also the North Eastern states as well.
The police had revealed at that time that Martin was running a Rs 7000 crore empire at that time. Traces of the scam were found in Ramanagar in Karnataka as well and there have been allegations that the matter was never probed properly. This empire of Rs 7000 crore could have easily gone up now, investigators also point out.
Investigators who had probed the Martin case say that he had risen from rags to riches in quick time. With the kind of financial clout he had due to his thriving lottery business, he managed to make the right friends both in the police and the political circles as well.
It was found that Martin began operating the illegal lottery business in the year 2003 when Tamil Nadu first banned lottery. He gradually moved into the states of Karnataka and Kerala as well and in no time he had built up an empire that spread right up to the North East.
The CBI has its hands full:
The CBI is yet to officially take over the probe into the Lottery scam. There are formalities remaining since it has just been a day since Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced handing over the probe to the CBI. The CBI will have to visit the Martin files as well as this is where exactly the entire scam is emerging from.
For the Karnataka police who began probing into the case, it would have been impossible to probe into every angle of the scam. It is clearly an inter-state racket and only a centralized agency such as the CBI would have the jurisdiction to probe in between states.
Under the scanner would Martin's links to politicians cutting across political parties, his financing of some Tamil movies and of course his real estate deals. The manner in which he had allegedly pocketed the high and mighty will also form part of the entire probe.
The CBI will also probe into another person by the name Micheal. He is said to be a right hand man of Martin also based out of Coimbatore. In fact when the Karnataka CID probed the case, the name of Micheal had cropped up and they said he was the one who was handling Pari Rajan who operated from the Kolar Gold Fields.