Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP) Leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday (3) presented over 100 files pertaining to various alleged cases of corruption in Sri Lanka, implicating a string of high profile politicians including the ruling Rajapaksa family, Government MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya Leader Sajith Premadasa, and United National Party Leader and Opposition MP Ranil Wickremesinghe.
“Corruption is not limited to one man’s actions. It is not like stealing a coconut from a neighbour. Corruption on this scale is done with the blessings of the State, which is protected by the people’s mandate,” claimed Dissanayake, at an event organised by the JVP-affiliated Voice against Corruption (Dooshana Virodi Handa) yesterday.
“There is a ring of businessmen and politicians, a handful of dealmakers, some public officials, some officials of investigative authorities, some media owners, and even some in places where the law is supposed to work, who are involved in such corruption.”
Dissanayake first spoke on information about a number of cases which were investigated internationally.
“In recent times, if there is an international investigation into corruption, Sri Lanka is somehow connected to it somewhere,” he said.
Dissanayake said that former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US Jaliya Wickramasuriya, who is cousin of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit in the US, where he is accused of stealing $ 3.3 million as “commission money” from the $ 6.2 million that was provided by the Government of Sri Lanka for the purchase of an embassy headquarters.
“He has accepted in a US court that he took this commission, and the court is due to reach a decision in this regard, this May,” he added.
He spoke about former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Thirukumar Nadesan, the husband of the latter’s niece Nirupama Rajapaksa, who was recently named in the Pandora Papers as having wealth of $ 160 million.
“Much of Basil Rajapaksa’s property is in the name of Nadesan.
A famous corruption case is the ‘Gin-Nilwala’ deal. Usually, when an election is announced, ministries only engage in necessary payments. However, then-Irrigation Ministry Secretary Ivan De Silva had, a month prior to the Presidential Election, given a total of about Rs. 4,000 million to a company in China.
“One of these payments was made a day before the Presidential Election. The Chinese company released $ 5 million to Ruth International, which was revealed to be owned by Nadesan. Some of this money finally ended up at a local bank and was used to buy the Malwana land owned by Basil Rajapaksa,” he said.
Dissanayake also said that other lands were purchased by Basil Rajapaksa, including in Matara, valued at over millions of Sri Lankan rupees.
Dissanayake revealed a list of approximately 31 properties also owned by Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Yoshitha Rajapaksa.
Furthermore, Dissanayake also spoke about the misappropriation of the funds of the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) that occurred during the tenure of former Minister Premadasa.
“This is about the misappropriation of the CCF monies from 2015 to 2019 during former Minister Premadasa’s tenure. This is a scam of Rs. 3 billion. There were 146 expenditure heads that he had spent without any approval. There is clear evidence given by the officials that this took place on the direct orders of Premadasa.
“On 15 November, 2019, less than a month before the Presidential Election, an emergency Director Board meeting was called involving Premadasa, then-Ministers Mano Ganesan, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, and John Amaratunga, then-Premier Wickremesinghe, and another, seeking approval for the release of funds. But Wickremesinghe has not signed. However, the then-Prime Ministerial Secretary has signed it. Kariyawasam has also not signed it. We have an investigatory file about this too,” said Dissanayake.
Commenting on former Minister Aluthgamage, Dissanayake said that there is a file on him because a private legal matter had compelled Aluthgamage to declare his assets to a Sri Lankan court, which has revealed that he has two bank accounts in Singapore, and questioned as to how there was money in dollars in them and how Aluthgamage had earned them.
Meanwhile, Voice against Corruption organisation Convenor Wasantha Samarasinghe revealed details about Government MP Namal Rajapaksa.
“In the B-report related to the ‘Krish’ deal, Namal Rajapaksa has accepted that businessman Nimal Perera had given him Rs. 60 million. Namal Rajapaksa had said that he gave that money to Sri Lanka Rugby. However, all officials in the Sri Lanka Rugby have said that they did not receive that money,” said Samarasinghe.
He added that when investigations were being conducted into the ‘Krish’ deal, the misappropriation of funds during the construction of two hospitals in Hambantota and Nuwara Eliya had come to light.
“The total construction cost was at EUR 82 million for the two hospitals. However, EUR 4.33 million was transferred to Sabre Vision Holdings, registered in the British Virgin Islands, and owned by Perera via a company in the Netherlands. A further $ 550,000 was also transferred to that account by the Australian company, Aspen Medical,” claimed Samarasinghe.
An Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary released this week about Aspen Medical included details about this transfer of funds to Perera. The documentary further named Perera as the “bagman” for the Rajapaksa family. Samarasinghe added that the famous “Airbus deal” money had also ended up in the same Sabre Vision Holdings’ account.
“Investigations into this were halted by the Criminal Investigations Department in 2019.” Commenting on the ‘Airbus’ deal, Dissanayake added that $ 16.6 million was initially sent to former SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena’s wife’s account in Brunei, following which the money was then sent to three Sri Lankan accounts, one of which belonged to Perera.
JVP Politburo Member Sunil Handunnetti said that although Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Treasury Bond (T Bond) scams became famous during the tenure of Wickremesinghe and then-President and MP Maithripala Sirisena, who was elected under the current Government but sits independent in Parliament, they started with then-CBSL Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal under the incumbent Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Presidency.
“The foundation for the Treasury Bond scams was laid with Rajapaksa and constructed with Wickremesinghe. Many tried to hide the Treasury Bond scams; even those who are speaking against corruption now and from the Parliament. The Committee on Public Enterprises meeting, which was supposed to be convened in Parliament then, was convened in Wickremesinghe’s residence,” accused Handunnetti.
Dissanayake said that this corrupt ring of thieves is only shaken slightly when a government changes, only for it to stabilise with a new ring of thieves in about two months.
“Sirisena won the Election on 8 January 2015, and met the businessman linked to the Avant Garde Security Services (Pvt.) Ltd., the next day, on 9 January 2015. Thus, this ring of corruption cannot be merely beaten by a government change, but through a public struggle that is steadfastly against corruption,” stressed Dissanayake.
“Today, a child does not have a packet of milk powder, while people are dying in queues for essential goods. Should we not punish this corrupt ring of thieves then?”
Samarasinghe said that they have over 500 files, other than what was presented yesterday.
Courtesy: The Morning