20 September, 2018

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Exposé: President Sirisena In The Thick Of A Multi Billion Kickback Scandal

President Maithripala Sirisena has effectively violated all norms of good governance, gone back on several key election pledges including a vow to end nepotism and cronyism, and severely dented investor confidence in moves associated with a deal between the troubled telecommunication service provider Hutch and Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the latter now chaired by his brother Kumarasinghe Sirisena. The process revealed by the newspaper ‘Ravaya’ will no doubt disappoint the international community which saw in Sirisena a symbol of change, a champion of democracy and a harbinger of good governance.

MaithripalaKumarasinghe Sirisena is set to strike a deal that would see Hutch being bought by SLT for almost double its current market value. Colombo Telegraph learns that President Maithripala Sirisena is in the thick of this scandal which could yield kickbacks of a magnitude that would make the Central Bank Bond Issue scam seem like a petty theft.

To this end, the President, on the bidding of his brother, has appointed to the SLT Board, two ‘safe’ persons (Rohan De Silva and K.H. Wegapitiya), both former Rajapaksa loyalists and beneficiaries of the previous regime and owners of questionable track records. Rohan De Silva used to be a staunch Rajapaksa supporter who after January 8 struck up a friendship with Harin Fernando. The duo has now replaced the ‘troublesome’ Krishantha Cooray and Firo Farook. Meanwhile Thusitha Haloluwa, a person who played a key role in Maithripala Sirisena’s presidential election campaign and an outspoken political activist, was removed from the Mobitel Board of Directors. He was replaced by Heshana De Silva, a partner of Rohan De Silva and the son-in-law of Udaya Nanayakkara. He used to be a close friend of the Rajapaksas’ and is currently one Harin Fernando’s main financiers.

Hutch, which has been in the market for a while, is in the unenviable position of there being no takers. With Dialog being out of the picture, SLT remains the only viable buyer and is excellently positioned to dictate the purchasing price. Experts in the industry claim that Hutch has been unable to sell even at US $ 60 million. Sirisena, however, wants to start bidding at around US$ 95 million envisaging a purchase in the region of US $ 130 million.

Interestingly, this deal was first dreamed up during the Rajapaksa Presidency. However, Lalith De Silva, the former Group CEO hesitated because there was division in the Board with regard to the then upped-price, which at the time was in the region of US $ 135 million. Some Board members thought that the purchase should actually be at half this figure.

Colombo Telegraph learns that these moves have been vehemently opposed by the SLT Board of Directors. Sirisena, however, has acted in an authoritarian manner insisting that his decision must stand regardless of majority opinion.

It now appears that the scam has been plotted for quite some time now, dating back to the appointment of the President’s brother as SLT Chairman.

Despite pledges to put an end to nepotism, President Maithripala Sirisena appointed his bother Kumarasinghe as SLT Chairman merely days after assuming office. This was done without even informing the subject minister at the time, Mangala Samaraweera.

The man’s incompetence made worse by insufferable arrogance became apparent to all very quickly. Kumarasinghe is not averse to dropping his presidential brother’s name whenever necessary. His chairmanship has been marked by a determination to protect staunch loyalists of the previous regime. For example, he did his utmost to protect the incumbent CEO, Lalith Silva, a political appointee and a Rajapaksa loyalist. Ranjith Rubasinghe, the man appointed by the previous regime as CEO-Mobitel and a personal friend of Namal Rajapaksa, was suspended considering a plethora of allegations against him. Sirisena consistently defended him and essentially scuttled the investigation.

The Board finally decided to bring in Dileepa Wijesundera as the Group CEO. Wijesundera is a professional and his only known political connection is his friendship with Mangala Samaraweera.

Undeterred, Sirisena brought in K.H. Wegapitiya to the Mobitel Board even without informing the minister in charge at the time, Mangala Samaraweera. Wegapitya, after being made a Director of Mobitel, attempted to sell generators to Mobitel in a clear case of conflict of interest. Wegapitiya maintains that this was before he was appointed to the Mobitel Board. However Colombo Telegraph learns that Wegapitiya threatened the Financial Controller who objected to this and forced him to resign. This individual had also given evidence against Rubasinghe. Wegapitiya is also facing charges for fraud in a number of court cases.

It is also on record that Wegapitiya behaved in a way that intimidated the Malaysian directors, refusing to allow them to speak. It must be mentioned that the Malaysian company Maxies owns 44% of SLT and that the purchase of the share volume constitutes the single biggest foreign investment in Sri Lanka.

Wegapitiya even told the Mobitel staff that Mobitel will not bow down to the SLT Board decisions: ‘mama kaduvak gaththoth le nethiva navathinne naha….pistolayak gaththoth….pathuram paavichchi karanne nathuva navathinne naha’ (if I pick up a sword I won’t stop until there’s blood on the blade; if I pick up a pistol I will not put it down until I use the bullets). Needless to say, he had the fullest backing of the Chairman.

Some of the Malaysian directors had made the following telling observation: ‘We thought the Rajapaksas were bad, but what we see now is even worse!’

Around this time the SLT Board had taken a collective decision that the Group CEO should be responsible for Mobitel as well, a fully owned subsidiary of SLT. The advantages of working together to make maximum use of synergies were considered in this decision. Wegapitiya, at this point, quite in contravention of protocol did his utmost not to implement the decision.

Wegapitiya was subsequently sacked from the Mobitel Board because the Malaysians insisted that they fond his behavior ‘uncomfortable’. Wegapitiya, however, told the ‘Ravaya’ newspaper that he is unaware that he was removed from the Mobitel Board of Directors.

Meanwhile, Kumarasinghe Sirisena , when he realized that the Hutch deal could run into trouble due to opposition from the Board, left no stone unturned until the Board could be reconstituted with directors who could be counted on or could be persuaded to keep their peace.

Opposition from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was Kumarasinghe’s first big headache. Wickremesinghe, concerned about the complaints he had about SLT being mismanaged and that the foreign directors were unhappy, proposed to appoint Krishantha Cooray as the Deputy Chairman cum Managing Director. So he summoned the entire Board to Parliament and had a discussion, making this suggestion. When the meeting was announced Kumarasinghe went around saying that the PM and Malik Samarawickrama were trying to orchestrate the Hutch deal for personal benefit. So although having agreed to Wickremesinghe’s proposal, he later refused to implement it on the basis that appointing Cooray would undermine him and his authority. This was when he ran to his brother President Maithripala Sirisena.

The truth is that Kumarasinghe need not have worried for there were top ranking UNPers who were actually on his side. They first got Ranil Wickremesinghe to relieve Mangala Samaraweera of the telecommunications portfolio. His replacement, Harin Fernando, is younger and a first time minister. Events have proven that he would bow down to seniority.

The operators were already at work. Alex Lovel, an investment advisor, who was tasked to hatch the deal during the Rajapaksa regime, maneuvered to a position where he was speaking to both SLT and Hutch. Knowing all the parties, including those among the Prime Minister’s men and those of the President’s not averse to kickbacks, Lovel has been a key facilitator, working closely with a Singaporean broker.

Meanwhile, ‘Ravaya’ has revealed that in an attempt to make the deal look above board there is reference to a fake bid by a service provider named Lycamobile for US $ 128 million. Lycamobile is alleged to be controlled by LTTE sympathizers and a ‘nationalist imperative’ is being manufactured so that SLT can outbid Lycamobile.

It must be mentioned that President Sirisena said on TV, ‘I told the Prime Minister to remove the Central Bank Governor (over the Bond Issue scam)”. It was alleged Arjun Aloysius, the son-in-law of Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran had made 500 million rupees. This deal involves an ‘over-bid’ going in the region of US$ 50 million or approximately a staggering Rs 7 billion. The question being asked by those vigilant about the deal is, ‘Will the President sack his brother or will he himself resign?’

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Latest comments

  • 18
    0

    Same old story, whoever comes in the general voting public is taken for a ride.

  • 21
    0

    Not only this. All of the SLT tenders are match fixes, scams and robberies. From the peons to engineers to engineering managers to head of sections to C-levels to Board level are unbelievably corrupted and licking asses of each other for money. It is a shame that I see graduates from my own university and other local universities are in this, having no backbones to be truthful to the people who gave free education to us. Disgusting…
    I second the opinion here, new minister also a lavish businessman like Harin, powerful presidents brother could just take this disgusting bunch to the next level. Only karma will punish these people neither the bribery commission nor FCID. “Alapalu” seems to be getting multiplied now.

  • 18
    1

    How come newspapers are not reporting on this matter? This article should be forwarded to everyone concerned and somehow stop this fraud from happening.
    The Sirisena jokers should be made to understand that Sri Lankans are not going to tolerate another family from robbing this country again. Why is Sirasa not reporting on this matter? Mr Maharaja is obviously getting special favours from the President. Now the Polonnaruwa boys are thinking that its their turn to make as much money as possible.
    Why is the civil society not questioning this deal? Why is the presidents brother allowed to behave like this.
    No TV stations is questioning this deal. Shame on the media guys. If this happened in India the media would have grilled everyone converned.
    These Sirisenas are going to end up worse than the Rajapaksas. Ranil should immediately do something and stop this fraud.
    If this article is true it looks like Hareen and Malik are also trying to make a quick buck. It is known in the UNP that Malik is greedy for money. Hareen too has started making big money. These fellows will ruin this government. Even after what happened to the Rajapaksas these fellows have not learnt.

    • 5
      0

      “How come newspapers are not reporting on this matter?”

      It is unwanted. Not safe for them. If they bibe a minister they are safe. If not they are in danger. In 1970, Daily News wrote of the Obituary of Democracy Under Sirimavo ruling. Sirimavo nationalised it. After that even JR or other UNP rulers have not freed it.

      When CT published New Prince and New Princess photos, many commentators started to boycott few days. A commercial institutions can not take that risk always.

      What I read now is New Prince is very active on his Daddy Kings’s old ministry traders. He flying to countries with Medical companies and working inside the government to get them orders. Daddy King accepted with his mouth that his ministry was most corrupted in the country.

    • 1
      0

      Kapila, your asking silly questions. Like why civil society clubs like what Maduluwawe Thero was heading and what the likes of Gamini Wiyangoda, Janaranjana are heading, keep mum over this. And media’s blind eye towards these scandals. Simply, what they wanted was nothing but ONLY threw the Rajapakshes out for the simple reason they ended the LTTE menace from t his soil. Corruption, Nepotism etc., were just covers to hide from the real reason which has been mentioned above.

      • 5
        2

        Max,
        Rajapakse did not win the war. Rajapakse only FACILITATED the winning of the war.
        Fonseka and the brave troops won the war.
        After that, Rajapakse attempted to deify himself and then rape the country together with his family.
        Sirisena was Rajapakse’s apprentice for many years and he seems to have learnt his lessons well. Very well.
        Bandaranaike hated Rajapakse so she promoted Sirisena’s candidacy. Wickremasinghe, the cunning fox that he is, knew that this was his
        opportunity to get back into power.
        All the politicians in this country are the same. All power hungry, greedy for wealth, with no principles whatsoever.
        We, the voters, are the fools in this tragedy.

        • 3
          2

          John
          Was it Montgomery who won the war for Britain against Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Sir Winston Churchill only FACILITATED?
          Was it Zhukov who won the war for USSR against Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Josef Stalin only FACILITATED?
          Was it Giap who won the war for Vietnam against France and US and Ho Chi Minh only FACILITATED?
          What a load of bull!

  • 9
    2

    Edwin Rodrigo what kind of a joker are you to say that you have lost respect for CT when they should be appreciated for exposing this scandal. You might be a Sirisena boot licker but don’t cover up for people who make money illegally.
    It is idiots like you that encourage these rogues to make money and destroy our country.
    If you don’t know what to say just don’t say anything at all.
    Sirisena family is all over and they all use the presidents name without any shame

    • 2
      2

      Ranmal, Cattle (subfamily Bovinae, genus Bos, Bos taurus) come in many sub species. In Sri Lanka we have the rice eating varieties Bos Taurus Lanka Mahindae, Bos Taurus Lanka My3, Bos Taurus Lanka CT. There is also the new breed Bos Taurus Lanka Hybrida. Which one do you belong to?

      No do not answer that. All the cattle may rise up in arms (or is it horns?) against me for insulting a whole species.

  • 6
    0

    Welcome to the Siripalanaya. Lets see if he can beat MR for the record fo most corrupt leader. Go Sira!

  • 14
    0

    What is wrong with our Sri Lankan politicians. They criticize their opponents and end up doing the same thing.
    They are greedy, dishonest, and do what is best for themselves and their endless family members, rather than help Sri Lankans who voted for them. Sirisena pretended he was a different person, but corruption has eaten him too. He is fast becoming just like his predecessor. Giving his brother such a high ranking job is ugly, and as if we do not have better qualified Sri Lankans who would do a good job.

    Sri Lankans are struggling to pay their food bills, and we see this politicians making lucrative deals, and filling their coffers at the expense of the people. When is he going to abolish the Executive Presidency, like he promised? Why is Ranil still unable to grow a spine?

  • 7
    3

    Singapore Mahendran’s Son in Law made LKR 500 Million from the inaugural Yahapalana Sovereign Bonds (YSB) Issue. according to our CT…

    My Math worked it out to be LKR 22.35 Million a year for 30 years, which gives a figure around LKR 700 Million over the life of the Bonds.

    Pretty close aren’t they?.

    I mam glad I have a couple of LKR 5000 Bills with Dr Mahendran and Galleon Ravi’s signature’s saved for .posterity.

  • 1
    0

    It is not clear how Lankawe’s Port City has got obtained permission to continue. When that secret comes out 36 Billions US dollars will be in the Swiss and Dubai Bank.

    We have written in these columns that when New Kings is ousted out, he will be double the worth of Old King.

  • 6
    0

    The ‘Common Candidate’ proves to be all too common.

  • 3
    0

    There is nothing to jump the gun. We accepted that all these mega-deals were for the benefit of Jarapassa and his cronies and we booted him out with the ballot. The same mega-dealers have now approached the new crowd pay them the something and get things going. That is why there are no prosecutions. There appears to be something going on in the outfit at BMICH because the sword of Damocles is held on top of some one. “DO THE JOB THE WAY I WANT OR FORGET ABOUT THE NEXT PROMOTION.”

    Telecom deals are nothing new. Kumarasinghe knows that people like Rubasinghe will definitely service him like they did for Jarapassa and that is why he was keen to have him.

    MONEY IS A LIQUID THAT CAN FLOW IN TO ANY POCKET.

  • 2
    0

    Wegapitiya is a crook. He was responsible along with Dilith Jayaweera for robbing EPF money that belongs to the poor workers of this country. Such crooks have mastered the art of buying the politicians of the day to their corrupt deals and become Billionaires over night. We can only wish that these crooks face the ditta dhamma karma for robbing poor peoples hard earned money in this birth itself.

  • 2
    1

    Ranmal, Cattle (subfamily Bovinae, genus Bos, Species Bos taurus) come in many sub species. In Sri Lanka we have the rice eating varieties Bos Taurus Lanka Mahindae, Bos Taurus Lanka My3, Bos Taurus Lanka CT. There is also the new breed Bos Taurus Lanka Hybrida.

    Which one do you belong to?

    No. do not answer that. All the cattle may rise up in arms against me for insulting a whole species.

  • 10
    0

    Sorry people just have look at this telecom maestro Kumarasinges face, with his brush tailed upper lip.. He looks like a good copy of Groucho Marks the joker . This guy with a lot letters which seem meaningless now poses as if he is an expert in all manner of expertise in I.T. while the bugger cant even express himself in proper English which is the universal language. And this fellow wants millions of rupees added to his already fat pay just because his brother Aiyo Sirisena is the President. And look at these frauds preaching of the ills of nepotism, and they are the same as the former regime .Look at Arjuna and his brother a fellow who has not even passed his A levels chairman of the Ports Coorp and Sirisena And Ranil don’t have the guts to ask this type of nepotism to stop. I guess they cant because they are in the same dirty nepotistic boat. Yapalanaya or some crap doctrine worse than the bloody Chinthanaya.

  • 1
    4

    “express himself in proper English”

    english is not ours,srilanka is.

    • 3
      0

      Absolutely! Who do we prefer, a corrupt bastard who speaks fluent English or an honest man who only speaks Sinhala? Unfortunately we don’t have either!

      • 0
        0

        better to have a honest btard who speaks tamil.

  • 3
    0

    Will Yaha Sira end up as a Maru Sira

    • 2
      0

      No he will not end up as Maru Sira.

      He will end up as ‘Hora Sira’.

  • 5
    0

    Ayio Sirisena! What r u doing to our country sir???

  • 2
    0

    Maru Sira it is.

    Yamapalanaya it is.

    All Sri Lankan politicians are rogues. Sira was married to the rogue MARA Clan for a long time. Sira does not know any other way to do business than the rogues way.

    Crying shame, we have nowhere to go.

    Best to give back the country to the British to rule again. We Sri Lankans are utterly useless if not totally dangerous at the job.

  • 4
    0

    Being an ardent supporter of Yahapalanaya, I cannot understand why young promising politicians like Harin getting involved in this type of obvious scandalous transactions risking their entire political carrier. The shameless appearance to white wash the Avanguard culprits has already got his name tainted with black spots.
    There is a marked uplift in general democracy in the country with independent commissions in place against defeated despotic family regime.
    Though I do not agree with CT in certain case exposures, I am 100% with CT in this case. Not only CT, 22/11/15 Ravaya and Times carried detailed articles on scandalous Hutch deal. it’s so frightening to note the way these scoundrels behave, not giving two hoots to hard earned Yahapalanaya. The most scary thing and what these scoundrels do not understand is not like those days, now people are getting angry over these corrupt deals in yahapalanaya.
    For me, the only person I can trust in this Yahapalanaya governement is Our prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe. It’s up to him to put Yahapalanaya on track, or other wise all will sink with Yahapalanaya.

  • 1
    0

    SAME SHIT DIFFERENT DAY!!!

  • 2
    0

    BBS Rep.
    Your priceless line……
    Better to give back the country to the British to rule again…
    I agree with you 100%.
    Frankly,I wish I was born somewhere in the 1870s so that I would not have been around at the turn of 1950s.
    The only problem then was Malaria!

  • 3
    0

    We all know and do not agree to the appointment of Kumarasinghe Sirisena as the chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom. There are plenty of qualified people , who can trust and who has much better experience than this Sirisena fellow. In this scenario, president has commited grave mistake and now he has to accept all this atrocities at huge cost. We should not blame him, for his good side and thinking of the future of political stability and Rajapaksha Mafia activities. But President or his media unit must explain what has happened and why?

  • 1
    1

    “”The man’s incompetence made worse by insufferable arrogance became apparent to all very quickly””.

  • 0
    0

    These people must take example of Mrs.B’s permanent secretaries 1970-77 period neither of them left a pebble of corruption when left their respective ministries.

  • 1
    1

    These people must take example of Mrs.B’s permanent secretaries during 1970-77 period some are top civil servants,brilliant economists and tecnocrats when they left their respective ministries not a pebble of corruption left behind.

  • 1
    0

    The mans incompetence made worse by insufferable arrogance became apparent to all very quickly.

    Strange.These are the offsprings of CHENACULTIVATORS from Polannarauwa.
    In fact MS began life as a Grama Niladhari.
    What the hell is happening?

  • 0
    0

    Why is this not reported to Fraud Bureau ?

  • 2
    0

    Many of us who enthusiastically supported Maithri, are still waiting for an explanation of all the controversy that surrounds his brother Kumaradasa.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/expose-president-sirisena-in-the-thick-of-a-multi-billion-kickback-scandal/comment-page-1/#comments

    All that has been said here is serious, and should not be swept under the carpet.

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