Lottery, infrastructure, a mining giant: Meet the top 10 purchasers of electoral bonds

Based on SBI data from April 2019, published today by the Election Commission.

WrittenBy:Project Electoral Bond
Top donors of electoral bonds, with the SBI and EC logos.

Hours after the Election Commission published details of electoral bonds, as submitted by the State Bank of India, we now know the top 10 purchasers of electoral bonds from April 2019.

#1 on the list is Future Gaming and Hotel Services Ltd with a whopping Rs 1,368 crore worth of electoral bonds. Owned by Santiago Martin, the lottery company is headquartered in Coimbatore. It’s also the sole distributor of the paper lottery organised in Sikkim and Nagaland. Its bonds have been listed as Future Gaming and Hotel Service PR, Future Gaming and Hotel Services Pvt Ltd, and Future Gaming and Hotel Services Private Ltd in the EC data.

The company and Martin have been the subjects of investigations by the Enforcement Directorate. Martin was also named in a chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a money laundering case. Last year, the ED froze assets worth over Rs 450 crore. Just last week, the ED conducted searches at the home of Martin’s son-in-law in connection with a money laundering investigation.

#2 is the Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd which purchased electoral bonds of Rs 966 crore. The Megha Group was set up in 1986 by PP Reddy. Both Reddy and his nephew PV Krishna Reddy are reportedly “close” to Telangana Chief Minister KCR. Read Newslaundry’s piece from 2019 for more.

#3 is Qwik Supply Chain Private Limited, headquartered in Maharashtra and donating a total of Rs 410 crore through electoral bonds. One of its directors is also director at a host of companies owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

#4 on the list is mining giant Vedanta Limited, founded by businessman Anil Agarwal and headquartered in Mumbai. The conglomerate is no stranger to controversy, including allegations of debt and multiple conflicts over its subversion of environmental regulation. Last year, it announced the “demerger” of its businesses.

Regardless, it purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 399 crore.

#5 is Haldia Energy Limited, purchasing electoral bonds worth Rs 375 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”.

#6 on the list is Essel Mining and Industries Ltd, which 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.

#7 is Western UP Power Transmission Company Ltd, in which Megha group has controlling shareholding, purchased bonds worth Rs 220 crore. Including Megha Engineering, the group has purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 1,186 crore.

#8 on the list is Keventer Foodpark Infra Limited, which has 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.

#9 is MKJ Enterprises Limited, headquartered in Kolkata, dealing in steel, and purchasing Rs 180 crore through electoral bonds. Its chairman and managing director is Mahendra Kumar Jalan – also a director with some Keventer companies, which ties in nicely with entry #8.

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

The EC released SBI’s data on electoral bonds just before 8 pm today 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.

We had earlier reported an ostensible pattern between central agency action and Rs 335 crore in donations to the BJP by 30 companies during the last five financial years. We later found 11 other companies which donated Rs 62.27 crore to the BJP from 2016-17 to 2022-23, and faced central agency action during the same period.

Check out the full series here.

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

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