A Sri Lankan couple’s money laundering operations – now under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) – is laying bare a spending spree of buying residences and other properties in different areas and costing hundreds of millions of rupees. In some instances, sellers who made statements have denied knowledge of the buyer – remarks [...]


Money laundering Lankan couple in mystery land deals valued at hundreds of millions


A Sri Lankan couple’s money laundering operations – now under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) – is laying bare a spending spree of buying residences and other properties in different areas and costing hundreds of millions of rupees.

In some instances, sellers who made statements have denied knowledge of the buyer – remarks that have aroused further suspicion. Statements of others are yet to be recorded.

The couple, CID officers said, operated 12 different bank accounts including accounts for US dollars, British Sterling Pounds and Euros. There have also been fixed deposits in others.

In one instance, companies operated by the couple had paid out more than Rs 203 million as advance payments to buy a land from a foundation named after one of Sri Lanka’s illustrious economists with an international reputation. The statements have already been recorded from lawyers who represented the foundation. They have said they do not know the buyer.

Among the other purchases that have been made by the couple are:

  • A partially built house and land at Battaramulla with an extent of nearly 14 perches. A sum of about Rs 13 million was paid to the owner. The funds had been deposited at a bank at Green Path in Kollupitiya. One of the co-owners had to send a Power of Attorney from a foreign country to conclude the deal. Police want to record a statement from the other co-owner, but he is away from Sri Lanka, one of the lawyers has said.
  • A Gurudeniya paddy land was bought at a cost of about Rs. four million. A Nuwara Eliya property was bought for nearly Rs. 55 million. It has now been seized. In south east Colombo a house and property were bought for nearly Rs. 130 million.
  • Nearly one and half acres of paddy land had been bought for Rs. 12 million. A Medagama property had been bought for Rs 125 million, while in Negombo another property had been bought for Rs. 410 million.



Navin Dissanayake and Arjuna Ranatunga addressing this week's press conference

Arjuna, Navin to struggle within UNP 

Talking in cricketing parlance, the two were good all-rounders in the national political team – the now emaciated United National Party (UNP).

Last week the duo, Arjuna Ranatunga, who led the Sri Lanka cricket team to the World Cup victory and Navin Dissanayake, who quit the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to re-join the UNP, were undecided on their political future. One option, to join the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) did not take place.

“I have decided not to accept the position as Senior Vice President. I will remain in the party, but may not be in the Working Committee, because I have already quit the Gampaha district organiser’s position,” Mr Ranatunga said.

“The main reason not to accept the position is that the proposed reforms in the party have not taken place according to our expectations. Reforms have not gone deep enough including that of the leader – The party should change,” he added.

Mr Dissanayake has written to the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, rejecting the offer of the post of National Organiser.

He declared, “We have to maintain discipline in the party. We will continue our struggle within the party. We believe we can create an ideology.”

The biggest casualty, or clean bowled, in this development appears to be for former Minister and then Assistant UNP leader Ravi Karunanayake. The SJB has shunned him and his onetime overtures for a ‘national government’ did not materialise. He has no choice but to remain in the UNP.

Beware of criminals released from prison: Business institutions told to be alert

Police are worried that criminals facing charges in courts and freed due to overcrowding of prisons, would resort to more crime.

An alert Police officer, Chief Inspector J. K. S. K. Jayanetti has sent out a note to business establishments and offices in his area of control on the measures to be taken. Among the advisory measures are:

  • The security officers deployed in the institutions should alert about the matter and be constantly vigilant.
  • Put up notices within the institution to educate the customers about fraud service providers and inconveniences caused by them.
  • CCTV cameras must be fitted covering institutions and vehicle parks used by both employees and customers. Also, people must be given awareness to ensure the security of the valuable items left in the vehicles.
  • There must be mechanisms put in place to gather information of people who enter the institutions.
  • Police and the institution security staff should be notified about people who are wandering in the institutions for no reason. They should also be mindful and alert about such people.
  • Instruct the security officers to not allow parking facilities within the institute premises for people who do not obtain services from the institutions.

Galle Face umbrella lovers get reined in

Colombo Municipal Council health officials have decided to conduct random checks at the Galle Face Green this week for suspected COVID-19 cases.

As they moved around, they spotted a couple relaxing under an umbrella. They conducted an antigen test and found they were positive.

It was then that the couple began pleading with officials not to tell their parents. But the officials had no option but to inform the parents before they were dispatched for quarantine.

No forex deals for three months

Central Bank Governor W. D. Lakshman has told licensed commercial banks “to refrain from entering into forward contracts of foreign exchange for three months with immediate effect.”

In a notification sent by the Monetary Board, this order is “in view of the need to avoid excess volatility in the foreign exchange market and the impact on banks’ risk management.”


Azmeena Hussain

Azmeena gets top Australian award

Australia marked its Independence Day at a colourful ceremony last Wednesday on a lakefront overlooking the Parliament House in its capital, Canberra.

Governor General David Hurley and Prime Minister Scott Morrison were in attendance. The event also saw new citizens being sworn in and the awarding of national honours.

Winning one of them – the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division (OAM) – was Azmeena Hussain, of Sri Lankan origin.


Ethul Kotte agitated over proposed garbage dump in historic, sacred area

A Kotte Municipal Council member has been busy clearing the Kotte Cemetery and cutting a separate access road. Maligawa Road residents, where the cemetery is located, came to know that plans were underway to construct a plastic disposal facility that had been given the green light by the former Mayor.

It was learned that this project was to be constructed at the Nawala Cemetery but later shifted to Ethul Kotte after protests by Nawala residents. Whoever decided to shift the location to Maligawa Road had to be an outsider or a recent resident who was not aware of the historical value of Ethul Kotte, and the Maligawa Road in particular.

The name “Ethul Kotte” had been derived from the Sinhala meaning of “inner court” of the palace of Kotte King Buwanekabahu. The palace and the royal gardens were located around Maligawa Road, including the cemetery and the Sri Parakumba Temple. To site a garbage dump or recycle plant in the heart of the palace was nothing but a heinous crime that one could ever commit to this nation’s heritage. The adjoining bird sanctuary, fauna and flora and the waterways were well-known to the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

It is an accepted norm in the world that cemeteries are treated sacred and left alone. A cemetery is a serene location where family members should be able to visit and pay respect to their loved ones at any time, pay respect with silence, pay respect with cleanliness and beauty and pay respect without any disturbance.

The Ethul Kotte people have urged the President to intervene and prevent this crime and instead take action to beautify all cemeteries with flower beds, trees, hedges, pathways and ponds which merge with nature.

Jaffna teachers taught a lesson

Teachers who engaged in trade union action of staging a protest in front of the Northern Governor’s Office would have never expected that it could result in a ‘no-pay’ leave even though they sent ‘sick leave’ telegrams through post offices.

Last Monday, a group of teachers attached to the Ceylon Teachers Service Union staged a protest demanding a solution to their issues related to transfers, salary anomalies and other matters. They did this after sending ‘sick leave’ telegrams to their schools. Lately, it has become a routine for some unions to follow this method to protest while drawing the salary on that day.

On the very next day, the Provincial Education Ministry Secretary issued a letter to the teachers through schools pointing out that engaging in a protest while sending a ‘sick leave’ notice is against the Establishment Code 12 and a special right line medical leave cannot be misused.

He further indicated that their ‘sick leave’ protest will not be considered as it used to be and they will not be paid for the day’s salary on that given day.

In his letter, he also regretted how a noble profession such as teaching went to such a low level where aggrieved teachers could have taken up the issues with the respective department heads, rather than staging protests.

CID’s former chief in tears

The Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) onetime Director Shani Abeysekera, now in remand custody, wept before the Commission of Inquiry that has just concluded its probe on the Easter Sunday massacres.

Mr Abeysekera, who is now under investigation for allegedly fabricating evidence, testified before the Commission via a video link.

He said that he was interdicted, and although the Polce Commission had recommended half pay, he was not receiving any payment. As a result, he complained, his wife and children were undergoing tremendous difficulty.

Global Tamil Forum gives vanakkam to Kamala Harris

The London based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has delivered a congratulatory message to US Vice President Kamala Harris, through one of her close associates. There was also a message to US President Joe Biden.

The GTF noted that “We as Tamils of Sri Lankan origin are particularly proud, as Kamala Harris a person of Indian and Tamil origin, who was shaped by an enlightened grandfather and an extraordinary mother with cultural heritage, will occupy the second most powerful position of the most powerful country in the world. No doubt it will inspire our children and grandchildren for years to come and we have already added “chithi” into the vocabulary with a sense pride and reverence.”

Chithi means mother’s younger sister, or father’s younger brother’s wife, or father’s second wife in Tamil. In Indian English, it may refer to aunty (friendly older woman).

HC in  New Delhi resident in Colombo

The Indian High Commission has responded to media queries, after last week’s the Sunday Times (political commentary) report about Milinda Moragoda.

A spokesperson said, “The Government of India’s agreement to the appointment of Mr Asoka Milinda Moragoda as the next High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India in succession of Mr Austin Fernando, was conveyed to the Government of Sri Lanka last year. The High Commission of India was informed by the Government of Sri Lanka that Mr. Moragoda would carry the rank of a Cabinet Minister of Sri Lanka during his assignment as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India.”

The official comments do not say whether the rank of a “Cabinet Minister has been accepted by India.” However, the Sunday Times reported that New Delhi had rejected the request.

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