Colombo Telegraph is now in possession of proof positive that President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa has authorized his close buddy and criminal accused by the Attorney General of Sri Lanka to monetize the process that allows desperate Sri Lankans to return home during a raging pandemic.
Former Army Major Nissanka Senadhipathi, gun-runner, weapons smuggler and once fugitive from justice in Sri Lanka has won exclusive rights to organize air tickets and quarantine accommodation for Sri Lankans seeking repatriation.
Senadhipathi is on trial in the High Court under the firearms ordinance for illegally leasing Sri Lankan Government licensed weapons on the high seas through his Avant Garde Maritime Services. Now that same company is the government-authorised agent for repatriation of overseas Sri Lankans.
Sri Lanka’s embassies overseas directing citizens trapped in other countries to wire funds directly to Avant Garde Maritime Services Pvt Ltd at Commercial Bank in order to be eligible to travel on pre-organized flights usually operated by national carrier SriLankan Airlines. Colombo Telegraph has these emails in possession and will expose the contents to our readers.
While the country has declared itself open to tourists since January 21st, Sri Lankan citizens desiring to return home continue to be compelled to register with embassies overseas and wait months for a designated flight but only after paying exorbitant fees to a private company that has direct patronage from the Government of Sri Lanka the email trail reveals.
The whole mafia was exposed by Father Tyrell Alles, a clergyman who returned to Sri Lanka from serving in Indiana USA for many years in the Daily Mirror newspaper on February 4, 2021.
The official that threatened the newspaper’s editor subsequently release audio of his conversation with Daily Mirror Editor Kesara Abeywardena. The tape reveals the Avant Garde official speaking to the Editor in threatening tones. A second audio clip reveals a second phone call in which the Daily Mirror admits the newspaper made an “inadvertent mistake” by publishing Father Alles’ article. The audio reveals a craven Abeywardane urging the company official to “explain to Mr Senadhipathi”.
Listen to full audio below:
The article that featured the recording of the call with the Daily Mirror editor which appeared on a news website in Sri Lanka also said Avant Garde was going to pursue legal action against the Colombo Telegraph, for the decision to reproduce in full Father Alles’ article which was removed from the DM website. The Avant Garde “spokesman” told the website that “Uvindu Kurukulasuriya of ‘Colombo Telegraph’ had alleged that the article had been scrapped after ‘Avant Garde Maritime Services’ had given money to the newspaper to do so.”
At no point in the report published in Colombo Telegraph did this website allege that Senadhipathi’s company had paid money to pull Father Alles’ article off its website.
It is well known in Sri Lankan media circles that Nissanka Senadhipathi has a terrifying record of intimidating witnesses and the media, buying out entire websites in order to stop unfavourable coverage.
The emails received by Colombo Telegraph now reveals that Father Alles’ account of his repatriation saga was entirely accurate and Avant Garde was controversially overseeing and profiting from a repatriation project that has been the subject of ire for many Lankans returning from overseas.
However Daily Mirror not only removed the article from its website, it also published Avant Garde’s response the following week with the “same prominence” Father Alles’ article received, as Abeywardena promised the official from Avant Garde.
The following email was sent from the Consulate of Sri Lanka in Melbourne Australia, to a Sri Lankan registered with the embassy for repatriation to Colombo.
This is further to our email of yesterday.
Your special repatriation flight UL [redacted] now scheduled to depart Melbourne on 20th September at 1900 hours and arrive in Sri Lanka Mattala Airport at 0115 hrs on 21st September (local times indicated).
We have now been informed of the revised payment details. Accordingly, your flight arrangements including the ground arrangements (PCR tests on arrival, quarantine hotel accommodation and ground transportation) ar emade by the Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd. Therefore the terms and conditions of your quarantine hotel package is determined by Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd.
Please note that the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Canberra/Consulate general of Sri Lanka in Melbourne is only facilitating your repatriation through the above flight.
Please also note that you are required to first make the payment for the ground arrangements and submit the payment confirmation to the Sri Lankan airlines at the time of the issuance of the ticket.
You are not required to respond to this email
Consulate General of Sri Lanka
1, Queens Road
A second email from avantmaritime.com sends Sri Lankans registered with the embassies for repatriation flights bank details for wire transfers and direct deposits.
The accounts for international wire transfers (USD) and direct deposits in Sri Lanka (LKR) are different. But details for both accounts are otherwise as follows:
Name of Bank: Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC
Bank Address 92, D.S. Senanayake Mawatha, Borella Sri Lanka
Account number (USD): [redacted] /Account number (LKR): [redacted]
Full name of beneficiary: Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd.
Legal experts said the scheme smacked of a Nandasena-style embezzlement not unlike the MiG deal in 2006. The President was allowing cronies and family members to profit from his control of the levers of government and probably making a big cut from those profits on the side, a legal professional said.
With journalists in Sri Lanka under increased threat and intimidation from the Nandasena Rajapaksa regime space is shrinking for exposes and investigations in the country about the corrupt activities of the President’s cronies. The government that promised “system change” is showing its hand day by day as those close to the President continue to rake in big profits while ordinary citizens are being crushed under mounting economic pressures worsened by the pandemic. Senadhipathi is only case in point.
We appeal to our readers and journalists and whistle-blowers in Sri Lanka to email information that the public need to know to the Colombo Telegraph investigations desk. The information will be covered by the strictest rules of confidentiality for source material. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org