18 August, 2019

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Alleged Money Launderer Lokuwithana Back: This Time With Plans For Ecologically Damaging Steel Plant In Trincomalee

A controversy is brewing around a proposed steel manufacturing and export plant in Trincomalee which will have a major detrimental impact on the environmentally-sensitive Eastern town of Sri Lanka, Colombo Telegraph learns.

Nandana Lokuwithana

The government has already announced its plans to proceed with the construction of the controversial billion-dollar steel plant in the Trincomalee area. The Cabinet paper in this regard will be presented by Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama, a close ally of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

However, the project has sparked a major controversy as a steel plant —a polluting industry which will result in toxic waste products, acid rain-causing Sulpher Dioxide, heavy metal residues and gaseous outflows —will alter the eco-system of the Trincomalee area, home to Sri Lanka’s largest natural port.

“The proposed steel plant will cause irreparable damage to Trincomalee. Apart from causing visible pollution, it will also prevent high-value, clean industries from entering Trincomalee completely disrupting the current masterplan for Trincomalee development,” a source familiar with the project told Colombo Telegraph.

Colombo Telegraph is also in a position to reveal that controversial businessman Nandana Lokuwithana, a Dubai based Sri Lankan businessman, more popularly known as ‘Mariott Lokuwithana’ who is accused of money laundering, is behind the construction of the Trincomalee steel plant.

The controversial businessman acquired the Ceylon Steel Corporation in 2009 through his company ONYX Group, with the blessings of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the questionable deal raised many eyebrows at the time.

Although the leaders of the current government constantly bashed Lokuwithana for hoarding money on behalf of the Rajapaksas, none of them effectively pursued investigations into the shady businessman and his questionable deals.

Colombo Telegraph is in a position to confirm that Lokuwithana, on behalf of the Ceylon Steel Corporation Limited and ONYX Group, has attended several meetings with Finance Ministry and BOI officials to discuss the implementation of the steel plant project in Trincomalee.

Lokuwithana, who is more popularly known as the ‘Sri Lankan who bought the Mariott Hotel in Dubai’ — which was reported to have belonged to the Rajapaksas — was also featured in the Panama Papers released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)

While in power, Rajapaksa had reportedly invested heavily on properties in Dubai through Lokuwithana, who reportedly hails from Nattandiya, and was introduced to Rajapaksa by his one-time loyalist, Sajin Vass Gunawardena.

The businessman also shares a close relationship with Malik Samarawickrema who flouted the country’s laws in 2017 to facilitate Lokuwithana’s tyre factory in Horana for which Prime Minister Wickremesinghe laid the foundation stone.

Although any applicant who sought to get land from BOI was mandated to submit their application and be evaluated and submit the highest bid price over and above the minimum price of US$40,000 per acre in Horana Zone, Lokuwithana was exempted from this rule by Samarawickrama.

Lokuwithana managed to secure the 100-acre land at a special price for 99 years. “The BOI board had initially refused and turned Lokuwithana’s offer, however, he insisted and went to Samarawickrema for redress, who then submitted a paper to the Cabinet Committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and got it approved,” our sources said explaining the background of Lokuwithana’s questionable deals with Samarawickrama.(Raveen Jayasooriya) 

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  • 17
    5

    “…………however, he insisted and went to Samarawickrema for redress, who then submitted a paper to the Cabinet Committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and got it approved”

    Yahapalanaya at its best! Dear voters, Use your common sense. Just think whether it is really necessary to vote for the same garbage over and over again!

    • 17
      6

      Which garbage are you thrashing about? The garbage which destroyed this nation with its secrecy, arrogance, money laundering, white vans , and anarchism which prevailed before 2015? People were afraid to talk Politics during that era! So much fear mongering by them. They’re still doing their mantras still. Instill fear among the citizens hoping they can swing the votes.
      Real kaputtahs! Father brothers and the LOWYER Son .
      Come on ” pull the wire over ” people were not born yesterday.
      Not a single politician is good enough at present or in the past.
      Why not install the steel plant in the rural jungles of the south where it would not harm the humans and vegetation. The monkeys can be employed or even the Elephants whose population has doubled.

      There’s so much risk involved having Steel manufacturing in the neighbourhood. Trincomalee will become a Tin Factory pumping poisonous air into the atmosphere.
      There will be hazardous consequences for the future generations too.
      Feasible studies should be published for the general public to be aware of the dangers of having this industry as neighbour.
      Even the steel workers health will be at risk.
      This is a bloody small island to install these Mega Polluters.
      Modayas to Modayas says will bring employment.
      Nonsense!!

      • 9
        1

        Of all the craven and corrupt politicians in Sri Lanka Bondscam Ranil whose economic policies are drafted by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to turn Sri Lanka into a debt-trapped and impoverished colony and Military Base of the US which is responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, is the Worst.
        Bondscam Ranil must be impeached. The JVP has lost the plot. It should have targeted Ranil for a NO Confidence Motion and Impeachment. It is Ranil who has invited the US to do its dirty work in Sri Lanka and thinks they will fix the next elections for him with the invasion of 150 US Peace Corps “volunteers” with full diplomatic imunity and impunity to flood social media with fake news.
        This steel plant in Trico, the energy barges from to purchase unwanted power by Ravi K are all to supply the US war machine in the Indian Ocean against China.

        • 10
          1

          Dead On Bondscam Ranil and his Royal Gay Boys who have let the US rape Sri Lanka, must be impeached!

          US citizen Gota and the Mahinda Jarapassa clan who RW has protected must also be locked up. This corrupt generation of politicians that have destroyed the country should be banned from contesting elections. There should be a rule all over age of 60 cannot compete. Time for the next generation to take over and lead.

        • 0
          1

          Stuff it will you, DRS ?
          “This steel plant in Trico, the energy barges from to purchase unwanted power by Ravi K are all to supply the US war machine in the Indian Ocean against China.”
          Do even you understand the rubbish you write?

      • 3
        6

        Analyst,
        “Which garbage are you thrashing about? The garbage which destroyed this nation with its secrecy, arrogance, money laundering, white vans , and anarchism which prevailed before 2015? “
        —-
        You guys wanted to get rid of garbage and voted to Hansaya and Unpatriotic National Party thinking that their ‘Yahapalana’ Government will make this country a ‘Bed of Roses’. See what this country got. Instead of getting a ‘Bed of Roses’, we ended up getting a ‘Cesspool’.

      • 3
        0

        Yes. At least the last government was secretive unlike the open day light robberies of the present one.

    • 1
      4

      Steel Industry damage environment! Is there any industry that doesn’t alter the environment in some way? If so, how did Japan was so dominant in steel industry once before S Korea, China & other countries took over the industry? This is not environment protection; this is what I call “environmental fanaticism”.
      Money laundering is a very cheap charge based mostly on personal jealousy rather than on facts. The accusers must, at least, point out what kind of “black money” the accused is laundering. Are they related to the underworld or something else? Finding the name among “panama Papers” itself is not a crime. Queen Elizabeth & David Cameron are some names appeared in Panama Papers.
      Therefore, I believe that something sinister is behind this editorial.

  • 2
    27

    Whether he is a money launderer or cloth launderer it doesn’t matter as lonfg as he is to create jobs in SL especially in Trincomalee area. With many steel plants closing around the world it could be a good investment if he can run the plant on a commercial basis. I would say welcome Mr. Lokuwithana, try to make it a success. We need more like this to recoup all the loses in the last decade.

    • 22
      0

      U
      “With many steel plants closing around the world” will it be a bright idea?
      Based on that logic, we should think of obsolete technologies a well.
      *
      We do not have a single raw material. Environmental issues are serious matters.

      • 7
        0

        SJ

        You are absolutely correct. There is oversupply of steel in the world. British Steel which was owned by Tata & sold for a token value of £1 to a British consortium supported by the British Govt. to save over 2000 jobs has now gone into administration after less than 1 year in operation.

        If I am not mistaken, this is a scam to milk the BOI concessions & possibly laundering dirty money as well. The track record of the wheeler dealers say it all. Ultimately it will be the citizens of SL who will have to bear the consequences of the irreparable damage to the environment from toxic waste & potential health hazards.

      • 8
        0

        OMG this is dreadful! Develop the farming and fishing industries for jobs. After people work in the ME, all they need is thir own sulf-sustaining farms. Pottery industry is organic….stainless steel will not biodegrade for several millions of years.

        • 0
          0

          …….self-sustaining jobs*

          • 0
            0

            ramona. For once you speak sense. Congratulations

    • 7
      0

      Where will we get the ore from ?
      Where will the waste products go ?
      Where/What is the fuel to fire the furnaces ?
      Who will buy this steel when steel companies all around the world are shutting down or are under tariffs ?
      India has MASSIVE steel industry. It makes no sense for us to try to compete with their volumes and quality
      Why are we so intent on destroying and polluting our small environment ??

      We already have a steel corporation. Why not improve that – It will cost less

      • 5
        0

        Malumiris

        Where will we get the ore from? Where will the waste products go? Who will buy??
        ” This is the last resort for our nation of milk and honey , there’s no other like “
        .Make a tomb for the people of APEH Aanduwe. We the people who lives here will be mummified for future History of the Buddha Land. How about that?
        Tourism can take up in a 100 years time to see the mummified tombs in certain parts of SL.

        There’s excessive waste products imported from all over the world have no space left now in China, why not friendly nation SL where the ultimate waste can be Dumped, Where??? here in SL”.

  • 13
    0

    The rats come out of the sewer again and again.

  • 14
    1

    From where is he getting the billion dollars from?

    • 5
      0

      Shankar
      From the housemaids in Dubai, the largest foreign exchange earner for the country.

      • 1
        0

        steve

        poor housemaids.What a pain in the ass and when they come back walk like ducks.

    • 2
      0

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 6
    1

    The same concerns were expressed before the Norachcholai Coal Power plant was commenced?

    • 4
      0

      Gamini,

      What is your point? …………. Norachcholai Coal Power plant is a roaring success?

      Some countries have realized that money saved from cheap coal has to be spent on health-care/lung-problems of the affected citizens.

      There’s no such thing as a free lunch …….. but there are commissions aplenty; money to be made.

      Affluent countries are slowly discarding coal generated power and selling their coal to poorer countries.

  • 2
    5

    Dubai Marriot !! I thought Nandasena owned it…

    So it this same Lokka who got that 100 Acres for free..
    What does he call the Tyres coming from Horan ?.Lokuvithana Tyres ?..

    Wonder whether TNA Sampathar and his Gun Lawyer Abarham are involved in this ..
    Trincomalee is the only proper Harbour which will come under the Federal State of Thamil Eelaam when Dr Ranil gets his New Constitution.

    Wonder whether Hindian Adani Coal has an interest in this project?.
    Because Adani has paid USD 4 Billion for a Coal Deposit in Queensland ,
    And he is trying his best to start digging to get some money back,
    But the Environmentalists and the Greens have put the spanner in the works.

    I have a few Bob invested in a Steel Maker, And it is doing Ok..
    But they came good only after ditching Steel Making and switched to Value adding to Steel…

    One of my fav places in Trinco because one can still get a decent Guest House / Hotel right on the Beach, without paying through the nose.Unlike in my Home Town.

    Anyway I don’t think it will stay the same when Lokuvithane starts pumping SO2 in to the Air and the left over Dirt in to the Sea..

    This Mallika must be a genius ..

  • 6
    0

    itis time the young unp ers staged a coup and threw all the old buggers out

  • 4
    0

    yes we should continue to sew garments, make lollipops and send our women to the mideast

  • 3
    0

    This is Lanka at its best. . May be this guy and Dhamika should bid for common candidacy. After all they seem to have support of all major party players (MR,RW,Mangala and the unknown). For that matter, didnt US pick Trump and the crooks ?? who seems to have survived up to now, with a loyal fan base to follow. They cant be that bad compared to what we had up to now MS/RW/MR —etc. Also given their worth, it is obvious they are not dumb.

  • 3
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0
    2

    Anyway, in 2015, Sri lanka’s foreign Debt was $ 65 billion. Now, it should have been doubled. Only 10% of that is taken from china.

  • 1
    7

    Good to have a steel plant. Then we can produce ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ swords to Wahabi Muslim extremists instead of importing from China.

  • 4
    6

    This rotten Government amended the Foreign Exchange Bill and saved Raveee from money laundering charges. He said ‘Anyone can bring any amount of foreign money. We will not ask any questions.’ Now the international community consider Sri Lanka as a center for money laundering. Isn’t that a great achievement of the ‘Yahapalana’ Government?

  • 4
    1

    First the Army general gave a political pardon and now MS has signed a political pardon to release Ganasara . The first act of a president after a human tragedy followed by island wide riots. So why cant people pardon and make these businessmen as your political leaders. A True Shit Hole. Trump can claim as president nothing else he was right on this one.

  • 4
    0

    Another good news for Lankans . Now that Modi is re elected with a good majority and another term of BJP rule, fighting ISIS as a common enemy India should have been favorable to Lanka (post Easter) in fighting the war, But after Lanka repeatedly ignored all warnings, the South Block will not trust Lanka for their safety.

  • 2
    4

    Oh, is this the investor in Trinco?
    Anyways, there is lot of talk about some investments involving this fellow. I don’t remember where, but this guy invested somewhere else also. It is not only the government, but there are others who are cutting a deal

    • 5
      2

      Champass

      “I don’t remember where, but this guy invested somewhere else also.”

      Doesn’t matter you can go back to sleep.

    • 9
      0

      Champa
      Yes the same guy who launders the previous regime’s looted taxpayers money.

    • 6
      3

      Champawathi,
      he should be one of your customers right ?
      .
      Each time, Rajaakshe was pleased by him, the gift offered by Rajathuma was you I guess.
      Your services were indispensable in building Rajapakshe hedgemony.

  • 8
    1

    this govt is full of thieves including sirisena. sirisena met gnanasara in prison? why did a so called president has to go to the prison to meet some one and have a meeting for 4 hours? this was after the general pardon list was completed? does this have any thing to do with Nalaka Silvas release? sirisena was harping on assassination plot as revealed by his setup Nuwan. Now the tape story also turned out to be bogus. The sirisena was shouting about madush who was supposed to have been employed to carry out the plot. Now madush is in prison with no evidence coming out on his assassination plot sirisena panicked. in addition Nalaka silva has said he was ready to arrest the devil saharan at the time he was arrested. Now the big question is sirisena going in a hurry to (accompanised by Asath sali) meet gannasara for a deal in the prison and release him…. is he planning to initiate a big anti muslim riot in the country and remain in power through gananasara?

    after all sirisena was a GS at the time there was rationing of food and other items in this coun try. TYhose days there were no politician sponsored thugs, GS was virtually in countro through coupon system. This sirisena’s mentality is the old GS mentality. He will distroy this country to prolong his power for few months.

  • 6
    0

    {“…..Lokuwithana, ……was introduced to Rajapaksa by……. , Sajin Vass Gunawardena………..”}.
    Enough to forecast the flight trajectory of the US one billion dollar investment in the Steel Mill in Trincomalee .

  • 1
    0

    I disagree with most what is written here about the opposition to a steel plant although I have no fancy towards this fellow Lokuvithana who is laundering billions of money by the Rajapakse clan.
    We have raw materials, magnetite ore at Buttala and other iron ores in the island. It also has limestone deposits. All what we need to import is coal. So while promoting the idea of a steel plant involvement of Lokuvithana is questionable.

  • 2
    0

    Starting from MR and now RW , Lanka has been gradually selling its depleted assets to foreigners. Dont you think these business men can get us a better deal than our politicians, who neither know politics nor economics. Our cunning fools/politicians have been selling at throw away prices and then taking 10 to 20% as brokerage (commissions and omissions). Where as these guys know all about road shows , bidding,kickbacks and getting a better deal.

  • 2
    0

    Tirinkunamale harbour is not that deep but good for hiding Nuclear submarines. Now, Sri lanka has become a Strategic state, Hindia doe snot like giving it to anyone, USA doe snot like giving any place in Sri lanka to any one. Sri lanka is a center for money laundering. That helped Wahhabis tto who are trying to ISIS. There are Muslim terrorist groups all over the world in different names. What happened to the Cement factory and Refinery in Hambanthota.
    Sri lanka cannot be run properly. USA helps only to get everything for them. India too is like that more for them. China help in a different way because, USA and India always are jealous. Our politicians are their for personal fortunes. So, it is stuck at the same place. We are worse than what we were in 1948.
    Ethiopia’s Growth rate is 8.5 % this year.. Kenya, Zambia, Bangladesh and now even t is going to beat us.
    More things are Sri lanka is becoming a lower class society in the world full of idiots. NEtflix coming to your phone or to the TV. so, obesity and violent movies, sexual predation will be rampant.

  • 0
    0

    {“……Ecologically Damaging Steel Plant in Trincomalee……”}?
    Tongue in cheek CT?
    Trincomalee (trɪŋkoʊməˈli) is the bastardised English name of ; Tamil: திருகோணமலை Thirukōṇamalai; Sinhala: ත්‍රිකුණාමළය Trikuṇāmalaya).
    Trincomalee has been one of the main centres of Sri Lankan Tamil language speaking culture on the island for over two millennia.
    Ecological considerations in Tamil speaking area? CT….CT…..CT

    • 2
      2

      K.Pillai,
      “Trincomalee has been one of the main centres of Sri Lankan Tamil language speaking culture on the island for over two millennia.”

      Which archeologist found this two millennia old Tamil language speaking culture in Tirikunamale? Has he/she done carbon dating for the artifacts?

  • 4
    1

    Has he been charged and convicted of money laundering ? Like Mahendran has not been charged yet !

  • 0
    0

    IN DUBAI ,ALL NATURE OF BLACK MONEY THAT INCLUDING MAJOR PART OF HEROIN DEALERS MONEY FROM MUSLIM BROTHERS AFGHANISTAN and pakistan as well as many criminals from the world that including sri lanka political babies

  • 2
    0

    The planned Trinco Steel plant cannot and will not succeed. There is a steel and aluminium glut in the world market and plants are closing.
    Lankan building industry will buy their requirement on the world market delivered ‘just in time’.
    Special steel for Army Commander Lt Col Mahes Senanayake’s Avant Garde Armoury?
    .
    Lots and lots of steel making machinery from closing mills. Second hand dealers will be willing to ship these at inflated prices These can sit and rot.

    What a way to spend the US$ one billion.

  • 0
    0

    Malik Samaraweera’s companies have been bailed out by Nandana Lokuvithane.

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