The bank details of two powerful personalities in the former regime have been handed over by the Government to the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (StAR) of the World Bank and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. One of them with strong family connections is known to have held US$ 530 million whilst the other, a [...]


Startling disclosures: Two former VIPs have US$ 1 billion in Dubai bank


The bank details of two powerful personalities in the former regime have been handed over by the Government to the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (StAR) of the World Bank and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. One of them with strong family connections is known to have held US$ 530 million whilst the other, a fixer of all sorts and now in the news, held US$ 516 million. Both have had accounts in a leading Bank in Dubai.

According to ‘credible reports’ reaching the Government, the bank in question has classed the two accounts as having “restricted access” and is under the charge of an Egyptian national, who is manager of the Division. The funds have been deposited in the two accounts during the reign of the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa administration. The Government suspects that these funds have been obtained through corrupt means, commissions from large projects and “donations” from foreign concerns. It is also said to include a “gift” made by an Arab leader who was deposed and died tragically.

It was only last Wednesday that the Cabinet of Ministers decided to appoint a Special Presidential Task Force to identify unlawfully acquired overseas assets of Sri Lankans. How details of these accounts where deposits have been made periodically were obtained is not immediately available. However, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera is learnt to have officially discussed means of tracking ill-gotten gains stacked overseas by leaders of the previous Government when he visited the United States last month. This was during talks with senior US dignitaries.

The StAR is a partnership between the World Bank Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNIDOC) that supports international efforts to end safe havens for corrupt funds. It works with developing countries and financial centres to prevent the laundering of the proceeds of corruption and to facilitate more systematic and timely return of stolen assets.

Royal jokes reign supreme
Rain battered the SSC grounds during the recent Royal-Thomian annual cricket encounter with the Mount Lavinia boys sitting pretty.
But with so many playing hours lost due to rain on the second and third days the old boys at the Mustangs turned to their usual form of sustenance. As the scotch and the vodka went down, up came the jokes and the banter was mostly at the expense of Royal College.
When play stopped on the second day and the rains cleared, the umpires would still not go out. So one former Thomian cricketer was heard asking a colleague what was delaying play.

“The umpires are waiting for the report,” he said
“What report?” asked the former.
“Why didn’t you hear? Ranil has appointed a three-member committee to report on the weather.”
“Are they all Royalists?” another Thomian was heard to ask loudly and those nearby burst into laughter.
On the third day when no further play was possible and the old boys found solace in Johnny and Walker, an old Thomian was heard to say that today nobody could get a place on a government appointed board or corporation unless they had an FRCS. What have surgeons got to do with it, asked an old Royalist. Not a medical qualification you idiot, said the first. It stands for Former Royal College Students.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, an old Royalist who probably overheard the crack seemed to blush if such a thing is possible for him.
Royalists however, conceding they were on a ‘tricky wicket’ as far as the match went, say that the rains arrive on time when the leaders rule justly. So with the country’s two leaders, one an FRCS (Polonnaruwa) and the other an FRCS (Colombo), the rains arrived just in time – for a draw – and the Royalists to retain the D.S. Senanayake challenge shield they won in 2011.

This year’s match was featured in two prestigious US newspapers — The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. One of them referred to PM Wickremesinghe having a tough choice’ greeting visiting Indian PM Narendra Modi or going for the Royal-Thomian. So, he gave Modi a lunch on Friday and went for the match on Saturday, said one of the newspapers.

Alleged foundation fraud by ex-minister’s wife
The newly set up Financial Crimes investigation Division (FCID) which is probing malpractices in the previous Government’s Divineguma programme has made another finding. Sleuths have learnt that a former minister’s wife, who worked in the same office as her husband, had set up her own foundation. Those who had dealings with the Ministry, particularly in areas involving finances, were told to make contributions to this foundation.

SLFP MPs hunt for 1980 case records
A group of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) parliamentarians were busy in the central hills this week. They are looking for records of 1980 in the Hatton Magistrate’s Court. It is all over a case where the late Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike was insulted by a group of persons when she visited an estate bungalow in Hatton.

She complained to the Police. Action was filed against five persons. The court held that the five were guilty. However, they were not handed down sentences since they extended an apology in open court. The reason for this ‘research’ is because one of the five accused in the case is now holding a top position in the office of a VVIP. The SLFP group wants to raise issue in Parliament.

President, Ravi in dispute over steel
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has disagreed with a proposal by President Maithripala Sirisena, as Minister of Defence, to allow the Ceylon Steel Corporation to supply 20,000 tons of steel to the Defence Headquarters construction project in Akuregoda, Battaramulla.

He has said that the “total estimated cost of the project should be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers prior to release of money from the Treasury.”
As Minister of Defence, President Sirisena has pointed out that the Technical Evaluation Committee has recommended the purchase of 20,000 tons of reinforcement steel from the Ceylon Steel Corporation at a cost of more than Rs 1.9 billion. He has pointed out that the Special Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee (SCAPC) has told unsuccessful bidders to submit their objections. Consequently an appeal made by Captain Steel (Pvt) Ltd has been dismissed.

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