A director of the consortium investing in the troubled Edirisinghe Group is a close business partner of R.M. Manivannan, Chairman of SupremeSAT, which claimed to have launched Sri Lanka’s first communications satellite in 2012. Mr Manivannan is also a long-time business partner of Jaya Sudhir Jayaram, the Malaysian businessman who till recently was negotiating on [...]


Purchase of Edirisinghe Group: Investors in a labyrinth of multiple companies


A director of the consortium investing in the troubled Edirisinghe Group is a close business partner of R.M. Manivannan, Chairman of SupremeSAT, which claimed to have launched Sri Lanka’s first communications satellite in 2012. Mr Manivannan is also a long-time business partner of Jaya Sudhir Jayaram, the Malaysian businessman who till recently was negotiating on behalf of Lycamobile Chairman Allirajah Subaskaran for a stake in the Edirisinghe Group through a venture called Straits Grid Pte Ltd.

The Singapore-registered Blue Summit Capital Management Ltd has now signed a sales and purchase agreement with the Edirisinghe family to buy several of its companies. One of its directors is Omar Siraj M Qandeel. Mr Qandeel and Mr Manivannan together started up two new companies as recently as last year. Supremesat Japan (Pvt) Ltd was registered in Sri Lanka in September while Supreme Innovation (Pvt) Ltd was registered in October. They are the initial directors.

It’s now in the bagThe Edirisinghe Group deal is now in the bag, Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) officials have said. The buyer has now transferred US$ 32mn of a total of US$ 75mn pledged for the deal. They also said the investor has cleared Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements and come up clean.

ETI Finance Ltd will sell its holding of shares in subsidiary and sub-subsidiary companies and investment properties. The first installment of the payment amounts to Rs 5,017.6mn. CBSL has instructed ETI to pay urgently 10 percent of deposit liabilities or Rs 3,350mn and accrued interests of Rs 1,400mn as at end May 2018 using the sales proceeds received. ETI has also been directed to pay a further 10 percent of deposit liabilities on receipt of the balance part of the sale proceeds of US$ 43mn.

Supremesat Japan was set up ostensibly “to carry on the business of sales and export of all types of satellites by importing components, design, assemble, manufacture, in lab tests and model demonstration”. Mr Qandeel is listed in documents lodged with the Registrar of Companies (ROC) as Saudi Arabian. His address is given as 3 Temasek Avenue, #26-03, Centennial Tower, Singapore 039190.

This was the same address used by Rohitha Rajapaksa, youngest son of the former President, when he purportedly registered a company named Dycer International in Singapore. The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore has no record of this entity. There is, however, a Dycer International with the identical registration number provided to Sri Lanka’s ROC incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

Dycer held a ten percent stake in SupremeSAT but divested those shares in June 2016. The present shareholders of SupremeSAT are Supreme Global Holdings (Pvt) Ltd chaired by Mr Manivannan and J S Energy Holdings (Pvt) Ltd owned by Mr Jayaram. J S Energy was also first registered to 3 Temasek Avenue, #26-03, Centennial Tower, Singapore 039190.

But it has since “shifted” to another address popular with Mr Jayaram: P O Box 957, Offshore Incorporations Centre, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI). He also used it when he assumed directorship of a company named The Horton Square (Pvt) Ltd which was set up to build a US$ 250mn mixed-development project in Horton Place, Colombo 7.

The other directors of Horton Square are Mr Manivannan, Renuka Shanmuganathan (the two directors of SupremeSAT) and Alberto de Simone, an Italian with Belgian and Dehiwala addresses. The Horton Place project is stalled without planning permission. And a dispute has arisen between these “investors” and Purni Edwards, who owned the 291-perch prime block identified for the venture. She is still reportedly the beneficiary owner.
Purni is the wife of Rienzie Edwards who, in December 2016, was indicted along with five others by the US Attorney’s Office for allegedly defrauding victims of more than US$50 million.

Mr Jayaram also owns a company called Al-Rafidian Holdings (Pvt) Ltd. This is confirmed by Singaporean court papers. Mr Manivannan has stated on record that Al-Rafidian provided satellite acquisition financing to SupremeSAT.
In November, Mr Jayaram was detained by Sri Lanka Customs while trying to smuggle out US dollar notes amounting to US$ 50,000 in his hand luggage. Two others had US$ 50,000 each while the fourth carried US$ 58,000. But punitive action is being blocked by the Ministry of Finance which has taken from the Customs Department a file containing evidence against the suspects, including messages of them canvassing powerful political personalities to have them released.

The BVI address Mr Jayaram regularly lists is common to hundreds of other entities from around the world. In the 2016 International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Panama Papers leak, BVI emerged as the most commonly used tax haven by clients of Panamanian offshore financials provider Mossack Fonseca.

Mr Manivannan’s business address at 33 West Tower, World Trade Centre, Colombo 1 is also popular. A large number of companies are registered to it including Ceylon Commodity Impex (Pvt) Limited; Supremeast (Private) Limited; V V M Lanka Minerals (Pvt) Ltd; Ceylon Investment and Venture (Pvt) Ltd; Supreme Ventures (Pvt) Limited; Venmar International (Pvt) Ltd; Dycer International (Pvt) Ltd, Sri Lanka; Singha Lanka Investments (Pvt) Ltd; Supreme Global Holdings (Pvt) Ltd; Supreme Space Investments (Pvt) Ltd which is now defunct; SupremeSAT Investments (Pvt) Ltd; Singha Industrial Investments (Pvt) Ltd; Buyback Mobile (Pvt) Ltd; Supreme Solutions (Pvt) Ltd; Supremesat Japan (Pvt) Ltd; and Supreme Innovation (Pvt) Ltd.

An examination of the group’s activities points to the creation of multiple companies, opaque financial transactions, poor reporting, frequent share transfers and labyrinthine business practices. One concern is how similar named entities are registered in Sri Lanka, UAE and Singapore with the businesses in Sri Lanka having possible connections to the offshore entities.

For instance, Supreme Global Holdings is also registered in the Middle East at P O box 33582, Al Jazeera, Al-Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. A common email address was used for Supreme Global Holdings UAE and the company registered in Sri Lanka.

One of the initial shareholders of The Horton Square (PVt) Ltd is an entity called Paradise Island Holdings Ltd which is also registered to the same UAE location. This is the address of RAK Company Administration FZ LLC or RAKCA which calls itself “the largest Registered Agent for incorporation Offshore & Onshore Company [sic] regulated under Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority”. Its services include management and administration of offshore companies and establishment of accounts with prime banks in the UAE.

In January 2016, Mr Manivannan and his wife, Vasuki, registered the Orenda Ceylon Foundation ostensibly to provide clean drinking water to rural communities and to uplift their living conditions. It has still not been registered with the National Secretariat for Non Governmental Organizations as required by the Registrar of Companies.
The NGO’s activities are therefore not monitored by any independent authority. But the Foundation has reserved the right to “invest the money or funds of the Foundation not immediately required for its purposes or upon such investments, securities and/or property as may be thought fit…”

Other companies that use the Temasek Avenue address are Straits Consultancy Ltd and Quantum Ark Technologies BV which is said to have made an advance payment of US$ 1mn towards Mr Manivanna’s satellite project.

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