Nandana Jayadewa Lokuwithana, the Dubai based Sri Lankan businessman, more popularly known as ‘Mariott Lokuwithana’ who is accused of money laundering has received a ‘Jail Free Card’ courtesy his new found friend, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama, highly places sources told the Colombo Telegraph.
“As part of the deal, Samarawickrama has assured Lokuwithana that the FCID investigation against him over his money laundering activities has been shelved,” the source said. He noted that this was all part of the ‘package’ promised to Lokuwithana by Samarawickrama.
In January, the Colombo Telegraph reported how Samarawickrama openly flaunted regulations by submitting a paper to the Cabinet Committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wicremesinghe to get Lokuwithana’s land deal for the Horana tyre factory approved.
“This is all part of the package that has been granted by Samarawickrama, who has also given orders to the law enforcement authorities not to pursue Lokuwithana’s money laundering case,” the source pointed out.
Lokuwithana is known as the front man of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, and own the Dubai Marriot Hotel, Steel Corporation as well as the controversial tyre factory for which the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone in Horana recently.
While in power, it is reported that Rajapaksa had 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. Lokuwithana bought the Ceylon Heavy Industries and Construction company (CHICO) (Sri Lanka’s former Ceylon Steel Corporation) for US$ 77 million at the invitation of the Rajapaksa regime. In the Panama Papers, Lokuwithana is connected to one entity by the name of ‘Nilona Fashions’ which was incorporated in December 2000 and is within the jurisdiction of Seychelles, incidentally another hotspot where the Rajapaksa’s are alleged to have hidden their assets.