Supreme Court Halts Trial in Money Laundering Case Against Santiago Martin

Supreme Court stays money laundering trial against Santiago Martin, awaiting response from ED on plea to halt proceedings until conclusion of CBI case.

The Supreme Court suspended proceedings in a money laundering case involving lottery magnate Santiago Martin under the PMLA [S Martin v ED]. Justices AS Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan instructed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to respond to Martin's plea for a stay until the conclusion of another CBI case against him.

Martin, represented by Senior Advocate Aditya Sondhi and Advocate Rohini Musa, faces accusations related to a lottery scandal allegedly tied to Sikkim government ticket sales in Kerala. The ED charged him based on a Kochi CBI office's report, alleging violations of the IPC and the Lotteries Act, causing a purported loss of over ₹900 crores to the Sikkim government.

Recent reports also highlighted Martin's significant political donations through electoral bonds, totaling ₹1,368 crores.

Martin contends that the trial for the underlying CBI case should precede the PMLA trial, citing a previous Supreme Court ruling. He argues that acquittal in the CBI case would nullify PMLA proceedings, urging the court to prioritize the CBI trial.

Previously, Martin's plea for a PMLA trial halt was rejected by a Special PMLA Court, prompting his appeal to the Supreme Court. His plea emphasizes that delaying PMLA proceedings until the CBI case's conclusion won't harm the complainant and ensures fairness.

The plea outlines several grounds supporting the suspension:

  1. PMLA proceedings are contingent on the outcome of the predicate (CBI) case, with acquittal in the latter rendering PMLA proceedings moot.
  2. CBI trial precedence ensures fairness and avoids prejudice to Martin.
  3. Halting PMLA proceedings won't harm the complainant but prevents potential prejudice to Martin.
  4. PMLA presumptions apply only after charges are framed.

Martin urges the court to maintain the stay until the CBI case concludes, aligning with the principles established in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. Union of India.