America’s wanted Sri Lankan Rienzie Edwards, alleged ringleader, swindler and money launderer is a close friend of both speaker Karu Jayasuriya and his son in law Minister of Plantation Industries Navin Dissanayake Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.
The 55 year old Edwards was on the 12th of December 2016 indicted by a Washington court along with five other accomplices on charges of swindling investors to the tune of over US $ 50 million.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya a close associate of Edwards, was earlier seen chaperoning the now accused US swindler, when an Indian Spiritual Guru visited the island nation. This was besides him being the chief guest on several occasions along with his Ministerial son in law, at the Royal Turf Club Nuwara Eliya horse races organized and conducted by Edwards.
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment: From at least June 2013 through August 2016, Rienzi Edwards, Michael Jacobs, Ruby Handler-Jacobs, F.K. Ho, Lawrence Lester and Rachel Gendreau orchestrated and executed a fraudulent high-yield investment programme known as the “Cities Upliftment Programme,” or CUP, which the defendants falsely told investors was operated by the New York Fed. The scheme was principally designed and operated by Edwards, with the assistance of Jacobs and Handler-Jacobs, and was marketed to investors around the world through brokers, including Ho, Lester, and Gendreau.” The statement also said that, Michael Jacobs, Handler-Jacobs, Lester and Gendreau were arrested by the US law enforcement authorities. It also said that Edwards and Ho are currently at large.
The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe. Arraignment is scheduled for December 20, 2016, in federal court in Manhattan. “Edwards, 55, of Sri Lanka, Jacobs, 64, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Handler-Jacobs, 64, of Albuquerque, New Mexico are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of conducting monetary transactions in unlawful funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to impersonate employees of the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of five years; one count of impersonating employees of the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of three years; and aggravated identity theft, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.”
However claiming his innocence in an interview over the telephone, Edwards had told Sunday Times Business Online that he was unaware of these charges, as he had not been contacted by any US authoritative government body to date. He had also claimed that he did not know any of the others accused in this case.
Meanwhile a commentator by the name of Michael Protiva using an electronic media forum had stated that two of his accomplices Michael Jacobs and his wife Ruby Handler – Jacobs had visited Rienzie Edwards and stayed for a period of one month as his guests in Sri Lanka two years ago.
Rienzie Edwards broke into the Sri Lankan business scene a couple of years ago and soon started purchasing properties such as Asha Hospital and a range of boutique hotels which he named Edwards Collection. However the tycoon and his wife Purni Edwards were soon hauled in by the Financial Crimes Investigation Department and investigated under the prevention of the money laundering act 5 of 2006 and its provisions. They were summoned, grilled, passports impounded and a case filed at the Chief Magistrates Court in Colombo bearing case number B34119/01/15. The presiding judge Gehan Pilapitiya ordered the case file to be sent to the Attorney General’s Department pending his opinion to proceed.
In his interview with Sunday Times, Edwards also claimed that his FCID case in Sri Lanka had been withdrawn in the Magistrate’s Court in December 2015.
However it is still to be established if according to Edwards’ claim, top rung Ministerial and government support was used to muscle his way through and have his FCID case withdrawn.
Rienzie Edwards in early 2015 got involved in reviving horse racing in Sri Lanka and with the help of the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s son in law and the then Minister of Sports Navin Disanayake formed the Royal Turf Club. The Minister of Sports Dissanayake then solicited a deal and offered the rental of the prestigious 64 hectares race course in Nuwara Eliya and its stables through the Sugathadasa National Sports Complex Authority for a paltry sum of Rs 110,000 per month.
Minister Navin Dissanayake was recently photographed traveling to Kyoto along with Rienzie Edwards and Royal Turf Club officials to witness the horse races in Japan.
It was also earlier reported that the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s son in law and Minister Navin Dissanayake along with the current Minister of Sports Dayasiri Jayasekara were also blatantly violating laws of the country to support Rienzie Edwards’ horse racing project. What is alarming is that horse racing is not a sport nor a discipline that even comes under the Ministry of Sports in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile a close associate of Rienzie Edwards’ contacted Colombo Telegraph yesterday and requested the published article “Sri Lanka’s Anti-Corruption Event Fetes Man Charged With Corruption” published on the 9th of December 2016 to be removed from its website. The caller also begged Colombo Telegraph not to publish any stories pertaining to the current case filed in the US against Rienzie Edwards.
Earlier in October 2011, Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri Lankan-American, the founder of the Galleon Group and former hedge fund manager and billionaire was found guilty on all 14 counts of conspiracy and securities fraud in US court and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was also fined over $150 million. (By Janaka Ranawera )