oiling Nawala Ramani’s wheels?
Probe on biggest vehicle scam
exposes high-level political and police connections
By Santhush Fernando
When a large number of vehicle owners went to Police stations to
complain about loss of vehicles and non payment of rentals by a
rent-a-cab service, little did they know that the very police stations
they complained to were allegedly operating wheels within wheels
in Sri Lanka’s biggest vehicle scam.
The Fort Police Intelligence Unit which busted the Nawala rent-a-car
racket, launched a probe after owners who lost their vehicles and
lodged complaints with police stations found something was mysteriously
going in reverse gear. Further investigations revealed how the law
enforcement system was entangled with vehicle mafias, detectives
deeper and dismantling the vehicle mafia, the detectives found that
police officers including high rankers at Welikada, Mirihana and
Mount Lavinia were involved in various ways.
39 complaints in this vehicle scam had come from Welikada and nine
from Mirihana while police officers from Mount Lavinia and Peliyagoda
were even alleged to have used cars given by the racketeers free
Vehicle owners are, however, not satisfied with the probe. They
believe that a powerful politician in Colombo along with other higher
level police officers, including an SSP, are involved directly in
the huge racket and the cover-up process.
alleged mastermind, Ramani Pradipika Nanayakkara is now in remand
and her wheeler-dealing Blue Diamond Travels and Tours is accused
of raking in as much as Rs. 14 million by playing around with vehicles
to the value of a stunning Rs. 88 million.
39-year-old woman from Nawala is alleged to have sold 61 of the
171 rented vehicles at prices very much lower than their market
rates. Strangely the woman had faced similar charges earlier but
somehow the cases were dropped and it is alleged that high-level
political and police influence was used to run over the cases.
woman is known to have had a ring of operatives with links to a
powerful politician and these middlemen sold the vehicles to gullible
buyers. The manager of the cab service is alleged to have links
to a controversial Deputy Minister.
woman is known to be separated from her planter husband Pathmasiri
Nanayakkara, but he, too, has disappeared after the scam was exposed,
to evidence, Ramani Nanayakkara had earlier operated from Mount
Lavinia, where she had rented a house at No. 11/1, D. J. Wijesiriwardene
Mawatha but as cases and complaints piled up against her, she shifted
to 1A, Temple Road, Nawala.
Mount Lavinia OIC and the Welikada OIC put most of the complaints
in the boot because they too were benefiting from the racket and
freely using the woman’s ill-gotten vehicles, investigations
have revealed. Both the officers have been questioned by the police.
an SSP of Mirihana launched a full-scale probe, it is alleged that
two lawyers representing Ms. Nanayakkara had warned they would file
a fundamental rights or defamation petition against him. More mysteriously,
some police officers are also accused of having intimate relationship
with the suspect.
of this was seen when a police officer in civvies appeared with
the suspect when an inquiry was held at another police station.It
is also alleged that some court documents were tampered with, one
instance being the alteration of the rental of Rs. 28,000 to Rs.
2,800 of a complainant in the Mount Lavinia Police.
Intelligence Inspector Lakshman Silva said the busting of the big
racket in Nawala had apparently stalled the operations of other
vehicle robbery gangs and they were known to be trying various ruses
now with their vehicles.
Such reports were received from Piliyandala, Mirihana and Kosgama.