2 March, 2024

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Dammika Perera Antics – Only Oligarch In Sri Lanka!

By Sam Panditha

Dr Sam Panditha

We have seen Dammika Perera swearing in as an MP and a Minister, without any public mandate. He resigned after the Aragalaya victory and will carry the record as the shortest duration Minister in Sri Lanka. Why not resign also as a National List MP- he has no legitimacy for that !!

The few days he was active, daily he made press statements presenting his“ideas“ for solving the crisis and then made a strong attack on Ranil Wickremesinghe that he should resign immediately as the Finance Minister. Further he challenged Ranil Wickramasinghe for a TV debate.

Many consider Dammika Perera as the leading OLIGARCH in the Country. (Definition- A business oligarch is generally a business magnate who controls sufficient resources to influence national politics. A business leader can be considered an Oligarch if the following conditions are satisfied:

1. Uses monopolistic tactics to dominate an industry;

2. Possesses sufficient political power to promote their own interests;

3. Controls multiple businesses, which intensively coordinate their activities.

In Russia and the former Russian Republics (Kazakhstan Uzbekistan etc.), after the fall of the Communist system, friends of the President (Russia Putin etc.) were handed over the state companies for a pittance, possibly sharing the loot with the Political leader. In Sri Lanka our Oligarchs have benefitted in different Head of state patronage and loot sharing.

Dammika Perera who started as a Casino owner, from the casino proceeds and with huge political patronage has built an empire. The two largest Finance Companies (LB Finance and Valibell); main shareholder in key Banks (Sampath, Pan Asia); Monopoly of the Ceramic and bath ware sector (Rocell, Lanka Tiles). Many Hotels (Kingsbury, Fortress and Maldives) Key companies Hayleys and affiliated Companies, Singer Company to name a few.

There are at least five other Oligarchs in Sri Lanka. You can identify them through their initial business lines and the current status. 1 Arms dealer to largest construction Company, 2. Used Car importer to owning finance microcredit and other operations in Sri Lanka and abroad. 3. PC salesman to hospital owner and electronics goods company. 4 Tea exporter to largest liquer company, hotel owner. 5 Steel Company owner to Dubai Hotel, Rubber, cement and steel companies.

Most Oligarchs have another key characteristic. They obtain illegal financial gain through the cooperation/ corrupt favours from Political leaders. Some also become partners in crime and even launder/share the ill gotten money political leaders generate for them. They may be the custodian of the politician stolen money.

After the ARAGALAYA, the new Government must establish a special commission to enquire into Oilgarchs and how they amassed the wealth. Any illegal and unexplained wealth to be nationalised.

Let us analyse some key statements from Dammika:

1. He will donate Rs 50 Mn daily to the country. The unpaid tax bill on his Casino operations was over RS 1 BN. This saviour of Sri Lanka, by not paying the Rs 1 Bn tax. Saved Rs 25 Mn a month from the interest. He paid the back taxes the day before swearing in as an MP. What track record of honesty. Now the patriot who resigned as a Minister, but he should still pay the Rs 50 Mn a month GIFT to the country.

2. His resignation call on Ranil for mismanaging as Finance Minister is strange. He talked about Cash-flow. Did he mention such disssatisfaction when Basil/ Cabral were running the show and ruining the economy?

“I do have an issue with his PM post. As the Finance Minister, the PM should not walk around reciting people’s problems at this time. The cabinet had given approval for the ten-year multiple visa, which was taken after completing all the relevant documents a month before. It’s been a month, and the project is still stagnant in the Treasury. There is a habit of the PM to stop the project because it helps to bring dollars into the country. More than 50 people have come here to get the visa after paying US$100,000, and another 300 are in the queue. If we implement that project, US$30 million would be brought into the country this month. The PM won’t let the

3. Coincidence of his Ranil resignation call was the day after the Government announced higher taxes on Casinos. “ to streamline casino industry to boost tax collection”

4. Another complain against Ranil was obstructing Dammika “BRILLIANT” idea to raise $30 Mn, by asking BOI owners to pay $100,000 and obtain a 10 year Sri Lankan visa. Which investor would forego $100,000 for a 10 year Sri Lanka, which they are automatically entitled anyway as BOI Investors? He blamed in his TV address that Ranil blocked the approval this and $30 Mn, was lost. But a week before, all media carried Dammika giving out such investors the ten year visa certificate. If Ranil has blocked the legislation, how did Dammika issue such certificates and get all the news coverage that he initiated the program.

5. Dammika Perera also announced that he will not go through any tender procedures as a Minister. We know that! In 2011 he was apponied as the Secretary- Ministry of Transport.

What qualifications did he have to take that position. Not a civil servant, not an expert on transport. Only a confidante of Mahinda Rajapakse- budding Oligarch. His period as Transport Secretary saw the most corrupt transport related deals and as he says NO TENDERS. The Matara – Kataragama railway, Galle – Mattala, Kottawa – Kaduwela – Katunayaka outer ring Road, over 100 Km 4 lane highways around Hambantota. These were the over-priced and corrupt contracts signed under his watch. Country downfall started from these corrupt deals. Please give us a list of the contracts you signed.

6. Under MR, Dammika Perera was appointed Chairman of BOI and did his first stint as an Oligarch. “Dhammika under fire over ‘quick’ BOI approvals”). Being the biggest businessman in the country, he was disqualified due to self-interest to head BOI. He would have used the position to prevent any competitor investment, support cronies investment, giving friends massive BOI tax credits, and assigning all state lands for his companies as fake BOI projects. Please give us a list of BOI projects you approved with the names of companies and the Government lands given on 99 year lease.

7. Dammika is a main beneficiary of GOTA import bans. Tiles and sanitary ware prices were increased by over 300%. What is the reason for this increase? All the inputs for tiles and ceramic ware are sourced from the Country. Clay local, labour local, electricity local. Only the ceramic glazing coating is imported and under 10% of the total manufaturing cost. With the import ban on tiles and the monopoly enjoyed by ROCELL and LANKA TILES he simply raised prices by 300%. While cars, motor bikes, spares were import ban items, electronic items such as TVs, Fridges, fans ACs etc were allowed in. They are mostly sold by SINGER a company owned by Dammika. The struggling poor massess were forced to pawn their Gold jewelery and surrender the leased vehicles to the Finance Companies. LB Finance and Vallibel key business lines are Gold Pawning and Vehicle Pawning, They made a killing from the imposed economic hardships.

8. Dammika Perera must also answer for the Rathupaswala deaths of protestors. They protested against his Company Hayleys, contaminating the water around the factory. Gotabaya as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence came to his assistance to quell the mass protest and supported the Army attack on the protestors, which resulted in three deaths..

9. Dammika Perera is alleged to have purchased the old Australian Embassy in front of the Colombo Museum and building a mansion. Some speculated that it was actually bought for Namal Rajapakse and Dammika was a front. Strangely after the mansion was build, Government tried to move the road in front of the mansion, to a new road built on the land owned by the museum, so that the mansion front can be a traffic free area. Fortunately, the Museam land was in a trust and they challenged the attempt to move the Road.

10. The Country savior Company Hayleys imported 21 containers of harmful clinical waste from UK. Only Customs found by accident and forced the repatriation. He nor his Company was ever charged for the offense. How many such harmful containers did he import before getting caught?

11. Another Dammika project is to open private Universities in Sri Lanka and expect thousands of foreign fee paying students coming to Sri Lanka and generating Forex. Also he claims this will stop Sri Lankan students going to overseas Universities and the drain on Forex. This is a wild assumption. No Sri Lankan University is even ranked in the top 1500 universities in the World. Who would bother to register in a Sri Lankan private University?

12. Dammika Perera has also written a book – “Sri Lanka 2030 A Developed Nation” .full of half baked ideas.

Let’s look at the very first action. “Increase foreign currency bank deposits by USD5 billion in the next 5 years.

“Issue a 10-year residence visa for foreign citizens who would deposit USD100, 000 in banks for 10 years in Sri Lanka. If this scheme is initiated, Sri Lanka can generate USD 5 billion of foreign currency deposits.”

Which foreigner wants a ten year visa in Sri Lanka wasting USD 100,000? There are better countries that give visas free to foreigners. How many such foreigners would actually invest?

The balance of the book is vague actions by each Ministry. A National Plan is not written around Ministries but as a strategic vision. The implementation would be the responsibility of different ministries.

Dear Mr Perera- you are the Richest Oligarch in the Country and the partner for Rajapaksa stealing. Just as you resigned from being a Minister, just resign as an MP too. You had no right to be an MP

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Latest comments

  • 11
    0

    When the settling in of a Fascist Regime with all the appurtenant trappings is seen, multi billionaire money makers flock. The world saw them do so in Germany in the thirties of the last century. Krupps and Tyssen to name just two.
    In little Sri Lanka a beginning was attempted. The first swallow flew in to make a summer was the oligarch referred to by the author. What resulted is a still birth. The likes of this misadventure will not follow as the fangs of the dragon are getting bared. They will be in full display from now on. The anxieties and fears expressed by the PM; RW appear to be these.

    • 3
      3

      There are lots of Oligarchs in Sri Lanka who run the various business houses – the Maharaja, Wijewardena, Amunugama, Jayaweera Media and food Oligarchs the Underwear Kings, Tourist hotel and LOLC oligarchs, the Keeles and Brandix Balendras and Amaleens the Hotels and Ports Oligarchs who live in guilded palaces of ethnic chic…
      and invest in real estate in London and New York.. where they holiday and intern… while garment girls slave for a pittance in their hotels, Spas and factories…

  • 15
    0

    What a terrible set of circumstances. How selfish, narcissistic, and shortsighted were their dealings. Didn’t they know it would lead to the present situation where the hardworking people of the land would suffer wretchedly for a long time, and they themselves would reach their precipice? Greed and ambition clouded their dull minds. My god….all these fellows should be prosecuted and jailed ; their monies confiscated.

    • 20
      3

      This Dhammika is the worst example of business “acumen” One can find. Basically a casino operator, he has destroyed the savings of many people. Sakvithi too did that, but ended up in jail. Why isn’t this guy in jail.
      There are real businessmen/ industrialists who contribute positively to the national wealth without running whore-houses and massage parlours, or aspiring to undeserved political power. There are the Gnanams of St. Anthony’s Group. And among others, there is Damro, which has succeeded in the very competitive Indidian market, where bigger companies couldn’t.

      • 4
        2

        Any low man and men could easily breed in the soil made by Rajapakshes during the last 15 years.
        :
        Whore-houses and massage parlours is the culture introduced by Medamulanism. My elders were repeating, if uneducated people would start to be above, things would go wrong from the first minute on.
        .
        For what purpose we to allow SPAs in SL – calling it a buddhists’ paradise ? Why Saffron clads would not talk about it… some fake monks like GHANASARA or the like are caught by their visits paid to those masage clinics. ‘

        .
        My dear OC, truths would not stay that long…. to the manner, Rajapakshes deserve it today. I know it well from my eyes, those who come from various countries and abuse the state laws (as refugees in Europe) would not run any clean business. So is the case also in Canda and US.
        However, srilanken media and even UNIVERSITY dons had no brains to find out the hidden history of GOTABAYA while he was living in the US for a period of 15 long years ( 15 x 365 days) = 5475 days.
        General Sarath Fonseka revealed one as many foreeigners would do, Gotabaya too had gone through by doing survival jobs in the US until he returned to SRILANKA by offering him “Defence secretary” in 2005.
        Unlike in SL, US govt can easily check how anyone would collect unestimable wealth within a shorter period of time. So is the case in European countries because, our taxes being deducted from our salaries are recorded by their databases.
        :

  • 15
    1

    The article is a masterclass in journalism. Obviously this man Dammika Perera and all his shady tricks must be thoroughly investigated. Gambling is a business where the dregs of society gather. There you will find gangsters, fraudsters, racketeers, money-launderers, pimps, prostitutes. The list goes on. At the top will be the casino owner.
    Just one minor amplification: “… after the fall of the Communist system, friends of the President (Russia Putin etc.) were handed over the state companies for a pittance, possibly sharing the loot with the Political leader.” This is what really happened: Mikhail Gorbachev ushered in political change after whom alcoholic Boris Yeltsin took over. Yeltsin handed over state companies to his cronies and their Western backers. Putin came in too late to stop the rot but managed to rein the oligarchs and further disintegration.

  • 16
    2

    Sam . P thanks for exposing “mother of all Oligarch”. There are many more. Some have become politicians and ministers. The first thing Gotha as President, did was to give a tax break for them. These rogues have been financing Mafia family for decades. Though recovered wealth may not be significant, all these crooks along with politicians should be made accountable. Why Ranil did not expose this before ?? He deserves because he is into the habit of saving crooks, criminals, murders and all other scums.

  • 19
    4

    I do not hold a brief for Ranil who lost all credibility after realigning with the Rajapaksas. But we must appreciate Ranil’s attempts. The man perhaps thought he must step in as PM in order to stabilise a collapsing political situation, realizing that no foreign government or entity would deal with us or give us loans if there was no steady administration. We may never know the reality. But it is unlikely that at that late stage in his career, pride or ambition were his driving motives. The end result was that he had his home burned down. Poor man.

    • 7
      7

      Sarath, I fully agree with you. Personally I feel , RW is not corrupted (if not least corrupted). He did arrest the economic bleed in the past. He may have accepted the offer because no one else did and was the only person to have working relationship with international bodies ( I said all this the day he accepted the offer). But given the situation now, it will be better for him to resign than making the situation worse. His role in intermediate govt will cause lot of confusion. Him staying away will put the onus on the rest. One more thing, he may not be corrupted but the same cannot be said in holding power and position. (hanging at any cost.) This may be the reason, for him to , shield all scums.

      • 3
        1

        If interested read today article in DM “Jaliya’s confession and Gotha’s failed attempts to protect him”. This is just a tip of an iceberg in Rajapaksas world of corruption. It also reveals in detail, the number of people involved in trying to save this rogue including Gotha, foreign sec Ravinatha (DJ’s pal), PBJ and many more. Initially the charges were, illegal diversion of more than $ 300, 000 of govt money to his private accounts. (shows how the transfer took place through many intermediaries including shell companies, and local businesses in Lanka owned by the Mafia family, to cover up their crime. After investigation Jaliya confessed to diverting more than 110 million LKR of public money to his private accounts. Sentencing is on July 20 and looks like he will spend a long time behind bars. (minimum 10 years).

        • 3
          1

          Here is an example how cases are handled in Rajapaksas world. 1) Feds file charges against then ambassador Jaliya. 2) He tries obstructing inquiry using his diplomatic immunity 3) Feds request Lankan govt to cooperate by waving his immunity 4) MS complies by doing so in official writing 4) During the brief constitutional coupe, Mara desperately tried to cancel waver 5) Feds offer leniency to Jaliya for cooperating with their inquiry 6) That involves information on Rajapaksas who are involved in mega embezzlement 7) Lankan officials deny having any documents related to waver 8) But the feds produce the original waver received by them. 8) Jaliya goes to court up to SC in Lanka , without success.9) since Gotha was made president, he again tries to put pressure by reinstating immunity to Jaliya 10) Courts find Jaliya guilty. 11) question is how much of scope did Jaliya provide for leniency ??

    • 8
      3

      Totally Disagree with Sarath
      Ranil has no legitimate right to be even an MP. He lost his seat- got one national list slot. That must go to No:1 in the UNP national list. Not RANIL.
      Second from a moral perspective he is a one man party. No mandate to be PM.
      We voted him in during Yahapalanaya to stop Rajapakse corruption and convict them. Instead with Mahendran he robbed the Central Bank. There were solid cases filed against the Rajapakse clan. He did a deal and stopped them

      • 3
        4

        Ranil is not the only one outside the ‘national List’ who made it to parliament. If it was irregular, why was there no formal objection? He is there as a fact of like, and legitimacy has ceased to be an issue.
        You may call RW ‘one-man party’, but how readily did Sajith P’s followers abandoned him in favour of RW. The man has some clout, and explore how that can be dealt with. Simply cursing him will not do.
        He acted improperly in dealing with the bond scam. But to accuse him of stealing is over the top.
        Can you list the solid cases in which RW personally left anyone off the hook?
        CBK not only left off the hook the judge who let him off the hook, but also let him succeed her.
        Do not blamer individuals. The whole set-up stinks.

        • 2
          2

          CBK not only left off the hook the judge who let MR off the hook, but also let MR succeed her.

    • 2
      3

      Sarath
      I agree that Ranil cannot have long term political ambitions unless there is a sea change in the political scenario.
      But there is an element of ego that could have played a role. Preventing Sajith from getting there was sweet revenge perhaps.

  • 7
    1

    To get 5B we need 50,000 investors ! Even over five years to get 5B is fanciful to get so many. But some gamblers will come to launder money – good for him. So the Scheme fails but he has achieved to get more customers.

    • 6
      0

      And what is the benefit – to stay at Kingsbury and gamble or laze away at Fortress. But a visa for each visit in only a few dollars to the rich – pocket money.

  • 5
    1

    And what is the benefit – to stay at Kingsbury and gamble in Colombo or laze away at Fortress. But a visa for each visit in only a few dollars to the rich – pocket money.
    So only hidden money will use the scheme.

  • 12
    2

    What ever it takes RW should not be given any power. If possible should be send home permanently. Already protesters have warned and now assembling in front of his office. If he continues to play games , their will more violence and bloodshed. There has been government organized violence in Temple trees and today in Galleface, between intruders and protesters. If sincere Ranil has to just announce his intentions in public, instead of his usual covenant crap ” I am here to save the constitution”. Any further consequence is asked for and cannot blame protesters.

    • 3
      1

      This one is from social media. After being appointed as acting President Ranil visited his Alma mater for a private meeting with teachers who guided him, throughout as a student at Royal College. Ranil began his speech by saying “it’s because of you”ll today I am who I am”. There was pin drop silence followed by an elderly teacher standing up apologetically to say “sorry but we all tried our best”.

  • 10
    0

    Dr Sam Panditha,
    Thank you very much for the article.
    I did not know that Rt. Hon. Dhammika Perera was behind importing medical waste to Sri Lanka.
    Does any reader know if there has been an investigation?

    • 1
      2

      SA
      “Rt. Hon.” is a rather abused term to refer to politicians.
      Tradition was it was reserved for someone in the station of Prime Minister or similar. It has got diluted I should agree.

      • 3
        0

        SJ,
        Thanks.
        Use of ‘Rt. Hon.’ was sarcasm and not to bestow any honour.

    • 0
      1

      Sunil,
      “Does any reader know if there has been an investigation?”
      These are the guys who fund our politicians. So, nothing much happened, except that the garbage was re-exported.

      • 0
        0

        Thanks OC

  • 5
    1

    Wealthy Dammika Perera bug muth short-term minister was a bully and a show-off. I was listening to his interview and my first opinion is that he stooge of Rajaokase dynasty and advised them about the quickest way to become rich. There is a proverb,’ Birds of the same feathers flock together:.. It applies to this Casino Businessman. SWRD banned horse racing after the Turf club murder. Casino too is another form of gambing. Why was it noy banned?.

    • 1
      2

      “Casino too is another form of gambing.”
      I may rather say that of lottery tickets.

  • 1
    0

    Ranil has lost his credibility with his wheeling and dealing with the R’passas and the central bank bond scam.

    Sam P has exposed albeit in a summary form, Sri Lanka Casino King’s dealings with the Rajapaksa clan.

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