by Nirmala Kannangara (Sunday Leader)
Questions have been raised as to why the long arm of the law is so slow to take action against Hambantota district parliamentarian Lakshman Namal Rajapaksa when there is mounting evidence against him over alleged money laundering. Namal Rajapaksa was imprisoned earlier and is now out on bail for his alleged involvement in money laundering.
The Financial Criminal Investigation Division (FCID) has now completed the investigation into how Rajapaksa obtained money from Krrish Lanka Transwork (Pvt.) Ltd. to give approval to commence a commercial hotel and an apartment complex at Transworks Square in Colombo 1, and has filed a case in Fort Magistrate’s Court (File No B/195/2016).
Mahadev Infratech (Pvt.) Ltd., India is the investor of Krrish Lanka Transwork (Pvt.) Ltd. and it had signed a 99-year lease agreement for Rs. 4,955 million with the Urban Development Authority (UDA) to obtain 683.45 perches of land from Transworks Square, Fort, Colombo 1 on July 30, 2012 and had received the investment approval from the Board of Investment (BOI) on August 13, the same year. This project was to build four towers each with 70 floors. Three towers were to comprise of high end residential apartments while the other tower was to house retail shopping complex, an office complex and a seven-star hotel.
In this backdrop, Namal Rajapaksa had allegedly requested Rs.70 million from Amith Kattiyal and Rajendra Prathap Gupta, Directors of Mahadev Infratech (Pvt.) Ltd., India to uplift rugby in Sri Lanka to which the latter had remitted Rs. 40 million and another Rs.10 million to an HSBC bank account Rajapaksa had given and the rest Rs. 20 million had been given by a cheque drawn in favour of a Sampath Bank account in the latter part of 2012.
(Cartoon added by TW from Internet)
The FCID, which conducted the investigation into this deal, is prepared to take legal action against Rajapaksa under Section 386 and 400 of the Penal Code and under Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act No. 5 of 2006.
According to the investigations that had been conducted so far, it was not only Rajapaksa who had obtained commissions to give the necessary approvals but also the then Consultant of the BOI who had sought another Rs. 40 million. It is also alleged that the BOI agreement with Krrish Lanka had been drafted at N. R. Associates at Gower Street – the law firm Namal Rajapaksa owns.
Be that as it may, the Krrish deal is to be a tip of an iceberg, where Rajapaksas were involved in money laundering and there are many more scams that are to be seen the light of the day.
According to the documents this newspaper is in possession, Namal Rajapaksa has confirmed that he obtained Rs. 70 million from Krrish Lanka not as a commission but to hold the annual Carlton Seven Rugby Tournament in 2013.
However neither the Premier Sports (Pvt.) Limited that organized the 2013 tournament, nor the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union that conducted the event had received this money.
“Earlier this rugby tournament was organized by Tharunyata Hetak, which is yet another Namal Rajapaksa project, together with the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU). Once the Premier Sports (Pvt.) Limited was formed by Rajapaksas in 2013, it was they who organized the tournaments and we conducted the events. All sponsorship money went to the Premier Sports (Pvt.) Ltd. and we didn’t know as to who gave money for the sponsorship and how much they received and whether the sponsorship money was used to conduct the event or whether the money they obtained was misused. We believe, Premier Sports (Pvt.) Limited was formed not for anything else but for money laundering purposes for the Rajapaksas,” an official at SLRFU said on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile it has come to the fore as to how Namal Rajapaksa got this Rs. 70 million ‘sponsorship’ money credited to a third party bank account but not either to Premier Sports bank account nor to the SLRFU account or to his (Namal Rajapaksa) personal bank account.
Rajapaksa had instructed Krrish Lanka to credit the money to the HSBC and Sampath Bank accounts of businessman Nimal Perera.
According to Nimal Perera, Namal Rajapaksa has asked him whether he has got a HSBC account as a company has come forward to sponsor the annual Carlton Super Seven rugby tournament and the sponsors are asking for a HSBC account number to remit the sponsorship money. As a result, without asking further details, Nimal Perera had given his personal HSBC bank account details (Ac. No: 006-040042-001) to Rajapaksa.
On October 18, 2012, Rs. 40 million had been credited to Nimal Perera’s HSBC account and once again another Rs. 10 million on November 11, 2012. Another cheque to the value of Rs. 20 million had been given which had been deposited to Nimal Perera’s Sampath Bank account No. 002950014922 on December 15, 2012.
“If Rajapaksa wanted this money to uplift the rugby sport in the country or to hold the Carlton Rugby Sevens Tournament, he would have asked the sponsor to credit the money either to the Premier Sports account or to SLRFU account or even to his personal account. Instead, what made him to get the money remitted to Nimal Perera’s accounts? The reason why Junior Rajapaksa did not want to get this money to the rugby union bank accounts is very clear. As he was not going to use this money to uplift rugby sport in the country nor to be used to hold the annual Carlton Rugby Sevens Tournament, but for his personal use, Rajapaksa did not want to get this money to his personal bank account as a safety measure,” sources further added. Although Rajapaksa got this money in the guise of uplifting the rugby sport in the country but later claimed that it was spent to hold the 2013 Carlton Super Rugby Tournament through a committee, when questioned the officials of the Premier Sports, SLRFU and even the members of the ‘committee’ Rajapaksa has mentioned, none of them had confirmed that they received this Rs. 70 million.
When questioned the two Directors of Krrish Lanka, Rajendra Prathap Guptha and Amith Kattiyal at the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi on May 27, 2016, the two Indians had confirmed to the investigators that they had given this money on the request of Hambantota District MP, Namal Rajapaksa to uplift rugby sport in Sri Lanka.
According to Nimal Perera, from the time he gave his bank account to Namal Rajapaksa, he (Rajapaksa) had made several calls and SMSs to Perera to find out whether the ‘sponsor’ had remitted the money to the HSBC account.
However when Rs. 40 million was credited to his account on October 18, 2012 and another Rs. 10 million was once again credited to the same account on November 19, 2012, Perera had informed Rajapaksa about the money that had been remitted. It was at that time, Rajapaksa had told Perera that the ‘sponsor’ promised to give Rs. 70 million and had questioned whether the remaining Rs. 20 million had not been received. However, according to Perera, on December 15, 2012 a person not known to him had come to his office at Royal Ceramics Head Office at No. 10, R. A. de Mel Mawatha, handed over a cheque to the value of Rs. 20 million and had told that Namal manthrithuma had wanted him to give the cheque to him. Perera had then deposited the cheque to his Sampath Bank account.
Few months before the rugby tournament was to start in 2013, Rajapaksa had wanted Perera to give the ‘sponsorship’ money to which he had handed over two cheques each to the value of Rs. 35 million in May and June in 2013 personally to Rajapaksa at his office at No. 7, Gower Street, Colombo 5.
Following the statements obtained from the officials of the Premium Sports, SLRFU which had revealed that none of the institutions got money to hold the 2013 Carlton Rugby Super Sevens from Rajapaksa, the Hambantota district Parliamentarian has now come under increasing pressure.
According to an official at Premium Sports, who did not wish to reveal his name, if Rajapaksa says that he used this money to hold the 2013 tournament, the accounts should show the details. “If a sponsor comes forward to sponsor the tournament, this is brought to the notice of the Administrative Committee of the SLRFU or to the Board members to get their approval. Once the approval is obtained, we get the sponsorship and remit it to the bank account. In regard to this particular event, we have got all the documents to show how we sent request letters to get sponsorship for the tournament but there is no such document we have sent either to Krrish Lanka or a letter sent to us by Krrish Lanka.”
Meanwhile it is also learnt as to how a former Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission was allegedly involved in obtaining Rs. 40 million from Krrish Lanka to grant the preliminary authorization for the project on the directives of Namal Rajapaksa.
However after the fall of the Rajapaksa regime and once the FCID started an investigation into the Krrish scam, the former Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission is said to have repaid the money to Krrish Lanka.
“The Chairman had got this money not as a commission but as an ‘investment’ on Dream Lagoon Company. However after the fall of the previous regime, this money had been given back to Krrish Lanka on the instruction of Namal Rajapaksa,” sources said.
All attempts to contact MP Namal Rajapaksa failed as he did not answer the calls. Although a text message had been forwarded seeking a comment, Rajapaksa did not respond.