Inter-state lottery scam worth Rs 70 cr busted in Bengal

Inter-state lottery scam worth Rs 70 cr busted in Bengal

Inter-state lottery scam worth Rs 70 cr busted in Bengal
City police personnel and income tax (I-T) officials on Thursday seized cash worth around Rs 70 crore after raiding offices and residences of agents of a Chennai-based lottery company in Kolkata and Siliguri.

The authorities made raids in seven places after learning that the money received from the sale of the lottery tickets was being used to fund illegal activities. The raids were made after receiving a tip-off from a central intelligence agency.

According to senior officials, the money was being sent to Saudi Arabia, Bangkok and other locations in Southeast Asia through hawala. The owner of the company is believed to be Chennai-based “lottery king” M Nagarajan. He is currently living in South Kolkata, the police suspect.

Officials said the business thrived in West Bengal, Sikkim, Punjab, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu even though the sale of lottery tickets is banned in the last two states. Officials believe the money collected from across the country was stored in Bengal before being channelised.

A senior I-T department official in Kolkata said till late Thursday night, they managed to count till Rs 50 crore using the currency-counting machines but it could be “just the tip of the iceberg”. The counting was set to continue on Friday, he said adding that currency-counting machines were also found during the raid.

Sources said that preliminary probe has revealed that Nagarajan got tickets printed from Hyderabad and Delhi and sent them to the states. Nagarajan is believed to be an associate of Tamil Nadu-based businessman Santiago Martin, the owner of a lottery business estimated to be Rs 7,000 crore. The city police received information that Nagarajan was arrested by Chennai Police in 2012 for running illegal lottery in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
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