14 July, 2020

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Exposé: Ravinatha Approved Whopping Rs 2.5 Million Digs In Vienna For Saroja Sirisena

Explosive new revelations have surfaced about how Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Relations Ravinatha Aryasinha has authorized monies to the tune of tens of millions of rupees for Ambassador Saroja Sirisena’s luxury abodes in Vienna, Austria.

Ravinatha Aryasinha and Saroja Sirisena | File photo

Sirisena’s eight month term as Ambassador to Austria has cost the Sri Lankan tax payer upwards of Rs 41 million* Colombo Telegraph can reveal through this fresh expose – but this sum could be only the tip of the iceberg because the sums involved have been thrust into the public domain.

Questions are buzzing in Colombo at the Ministry of Foreign Relations about what prompted extraordinarily special treatment for Saroja Sirisena from Secretary Aryasinha on the dime of the tax-payer.

Colombo Telegraph can now reveal another financial fraud, in the very least a criminal wastage of public money in the magnitude of Rs. 42 million orchestrated by Aryasinha to ensure the luxury upkeep of Sirisena during her eight month stay in Vienna.

Aryasinha authorized a multi-million rupee apartment for Sirisena’s use after cancelling the lease on the former ambassadorial residence rented at a much lower cost a few months before she arrived in the Austrian capital. The cost of the residence hand-picked by Sirisena was 11,000 Euro per month. Only two months after moving in she obtained further authorization from Secretary Ariyasinghe to lease an even more expensive residence at a whopping Euro 12,000 per month. Her excuse: The cable connection at the 11,000 Euro apartment was unsatisfactory.

In its last installment of the Ravinatha –Saroja saga Colombo Telegraph hinted that an expose on the apartment scandal was imminent. A few days later Aryasinha had planted a story in The Island with farcical excuses trotted out for these fraudulent transactions highlighted by Colombo Telegraph. Aryasinha through his media plant justifies Saroja Sirisena travelling to the USA at a cost over USD 70,000 (Rs. 12.5 million) to Lankan taxpayers, on the grounds that she would have preferred to have seen an English speaking doctor. The ridiculous excuses by Aryasinha presented through his friendly media contacts along with the obnoxious press release he issued abusing powers as Secretary to the Ministry necessitates a separate response. In the near future, Colombo Telegraph hopes to educate Aryasinha, Sirisena, their mainstream media enablers and any future criminal investigators on the laws, regulations and procedures violated in this case.

Saroja Sirisena was nominated to be Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Israel just before the 2018 political crisis. One of the first actions of President Maithripala Sirisena during his failed constitutional coup in October 2018 was to appoint Ravinatha Aryasinha as the Secretary to the Foreign Ministry. Even before the constitutional coup was defeated by the Supreme Court in December 2018, at a time when the legitimate government of the country was not even clear, Aryasinha went about making several changes to the original list of nominated ambassadors. One of the key changes he made was to move Saroja Sirisena from her earlier nominated post in Tel Aviv, Israel to Vienna, Austria. Aryasinha openly proclaimed that he facilitated this move on ‘humanitarian grounds’ for Saroja Sirisena to be closer to her new husband, a UK citizen living in London.

The Sri Lanka embassy in Vienna had been without an Ambassador since September 2018. In February 2019 the Chargé d’Affaires (Acting Ambassador) in Vienna wrote to the ministry informing that the lease agreement for the apartment/ residency occupied by the Ambassador was ending on 31 March 2019. The embassy recommended extending the lease for a further five years.

For years the Sri Lankan Ambassador’s residence had been located in the prestigious 19th district of Vienna where many diplomatic personnel lived. It had even been equipped with an indoor pool, one of the few diplomatic residences in Vienna with such a facility. Due to the long term relationship with the embassy the residency was leased at the reasonable price of EUR 6,500 per month.

Mysteriously disregarding the Embassy’s recommendation to extend the lease the Foreign Ministry instructed the diplomatic mission that the lease agreement was not to be renewed. Once the lease was cancelled the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a further instruction: The Embassy in Vienna was requested to rent a smaller apartment for the period of one year at the cost of Euro 820 per month [Euro 9840 for the full year] to store the furniture from the ambassador’s residence owned by the Sri Lankan Government. A further cost of Euro 2000 was incurred to move the furniture from the residence into the storage apartment.

The instruction raised eyebrows at the time because the intervention by the Ministry was extraordinary in this case. Things became clearer as the date neared for Saroja Sirisena’s arrival in Vienna.

Colombo Telegraph reveal that the instructions preventing the renewal of the lease was given by Ravinatha Aryasinha on the behest of Saroja Sirisena who wished to move into a new residency of her own choosing upon taking office. Interestingly these instructions from the ministry were sent to Vienna in February 2019, even before Sirisena had cleared the High Posts Committee of Parliament to become the Ambassador to Austria which happened in March 2019.

The financial atrocities on the residence saga did not end there.

Days before Sirisena left for Vienna, by fax dated 27th June 2019, Aryasinha instructed the embassy to secure a luxury apartment suite for EUR 11,000 (Rs 2.3 million) per month for a three month period as ‘temporary’ accommodation for the new Ambassador. In addition to the Euro 33,000 as rent, the luxury “Parking Garden Suite” located at No. 12, 1010 Vienna, also cost a further Euro 1000 deposit also borne by the Sri Lankan Government. The total cost of three months of accommodation for Sirisena in Vienna in rupees is 7.2 million.

Colombo Telegraph can reveal that the EUR 11,000 per month luxury suite was selected by Saroja Sirisena from Sri Lanka. She had pre-selected certain apartments on-line and had instructed the embassy staff to only look into their availability. While the embassy had found suitable accommodation for less than half that price she had insisted on going through a particular website as this agent had been recommended to her by a ‘friend.’

The website www.luxuryestate.com. This agent is not an Austria based company and is generally used by companies which try to rent out for a much higher price to people who are not aware of the real market prices. Ordinarily these apartments are rented out on a daily basis to tourists, so they are authorized to request a higher rent than for normal rental agreements. The local staff at the embassy had pointed out to Ambassador Sirisena that these types of agents are sometimes used for money laundering and it would be wise to obtain the services of a more reputable agent. Sirisena had completely ignored the recommendations of the Embassy.

Shockingly, Aryasinha had instructed the embassy to pay EUR 34,000 (Rs. 7.2 million) to accommodate Sirisena in a luxury suite which she had remotely chosen from Colombo overruling the recommendations of the embassy. In anticipation of this exposé, which Colombo Telegraph announced in its last segment, Aryasinha has planted the following gem in The Island;

“It would appear, some disgruntled and frustrated officers are disseminating factually incorrect information to publications. For instance, the accusation against the Foreign Secretary for approving Euro 11,000 per month for temporary accommodation when Ambassador Sirisena arrived in Vienna in July 2019 is misleading. As stated earlier, July is the height of the summer holidays. Most landlords (and doctors) are away on vacation, and permanent accommodation at competitive prices is not available in markets till September.”

Ridiculous as the above argument maybe to anyone who can Google the price of accommodation in Vienna, or understand that a designated Ambassador is not a tourist who lands in a capital without any preparation, it also conveniently ignores how the embassy had been instructed from Colombo by Sirisena to look into only the availability of luxury suites of her choice and ignored all recommendations from the embassy for cheaper options. More than four months were available to make these arrangements.

Naturally such matters may not occur to a travel agent, but it should have occurred to Aryasinha as the administrative head and chief financial officer of a Ministry. Therefore it is not some slip in administration in his part but a deliberate move to grant a wish to a dear colleague, who wished to live it up on the public dime.

Reading the above quote one would assume that Sirisena moved in to a permanent residence, at a more reasonable cost to the tax payers, by the end of September once the landlords of Vienna returned from their summer vacations. Sadly for the Sri Lankan tax payer, that was not the case.

Even before the end of the three month period at her EUR 11,000 apartment, in the first week of September 2019, Sirisena moved into yet another, more expensive luxury apartment. Again this move was authorized by Ariyasinha with no questions asked.

The new suite was located at the Rilkeplatz in the 4th district of Vienna, and cost a staggering EUR 12,000 or Rs.2.52 million per month to rent.

Colombo Telegraph is reliably informed that Sirisena used the same real estate agent to obtain the newer and more expensive luxury apartment. The main reason for the move had been her dissatisfaction with the cable television options at her EUR 11,000 suite. Sirisena had remained at the EUR 12,000 per month apartment for a further six months until her departure to London at the end of February 2020.

With bated breath the Colombo Telegraph awaits Vienna real-estate experts analysis on ‘competitive prices’ for accommodation from September to February, probably due to the ‘height of winter.’

The total cost for ‘temporary accommodation’ for Sirisena for a period of eight months is a mind numbing EUR 106,000 or Rs. 22.25 million. The government had to incur another medical expense when a staff member of the embassy broke his back lifting furniture during the move into the super luxury suite in September, 2019.

Colombo Telegraph also learns that during this period Sirisena had sought a further EUR 20,000 (Rs. 4.19 million) from the ministry to purchase new furniture. Colombo Telegraph is awaiting confirmation as to whether Secretary Aryasinha obliged this wish of Sirisena as well.

For the benefit of our readers Colombo Telegraph drafted a list of expenses invoiced to the Sri Lanka tax payer and authorized by Secretary Aryasinha for Saroja Sirisena’s 8 month stint as Ambassador of Austria. These numbers do not account for her many allowances, salary and other authorised expenditure that may not yet have been revealed.

Costs approved by Secretary Ravinatha Aryasingha for accommodation, travel and medical expenses during Mrs Saroja Sirisena’s 8 month term in Austria:

Each and every one of the above expenditures required authorisation from Ravinatha Aryasinha. The expenditure pertaining to Sirisena’s ‘temporary’ accommodation, moving and storage costs had to be borne by taxpayers due to Aryasinha’s irrational instructions (behest of Sirisena) not to extend the existing lease of the Ambassador’s residency at the end of March 2019.

The total known costs incurred by Sri Lankan tax payers to upkeep Saroja Sirisena for eight months in Vienna, as per current exchange rates is a staggering USD 226,190 or Rs. 41.875 million. For context, the total amount that was collected by all 65 Sri Lanka missions abroad form all of our nationals living around the world for the government Covid fund is Rs. 29 million. This in a country where three women were crushed to death recently, attempting to collect Rs 1,500 as financial assistance.

After the presidential election in November 2019, Aryasinha moved swiftly to accommodate Sirisena’s wish to move to London to live with her new husband. In order to do so Aryasinha summarily recalled High Commissioner Manisha Gunasekera who had served in London for merely one year and three months at the time of her return. She was recalled without cause or even a courtesy explanation. A ‘gossip’ news was deliberately planted in the same Daily Mirror which has now written an editorial asking ‘why there is a vicious attack on Saroja Sirisena,’ to suggest that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was unhappy with Gunasekera due to some affront during one of his visits to South Korea as a member of the opposition many years ago. Aryasinha attempted to pacify Gunasekera by offering her another diplomatic position in Asia which she rejected and opted to come back to Sri Lanka.

Manisha Gunasekera had previously served with distinction and dedication as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Korea and as Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. She has an unblemished record as a career diplomat and there are no financial or other stains on her character or integrity. There are no doubts regarding her graduate or post-graduate qualifications either. Aryasinha ordered her to return by 31st January, 2020, intentionally preventing her from hosting the Independence Day celebrations in London on 4th February. Saroja Sirisena, with her British national husband in tow, assumed duties as High Commissioner on 2nd March, 2020.

Both Ravinatha Aryasinha and Saroja Sirisena are self proclaimed patriots. With President Gotabaya Rajapaksa establishing a Task Force to create a ‘virtuous and disciplined society’ it needs to be seen if such exalted ideals apply to those hailing from Beliatta and from Ananda College as well. Even though there has not been an inquiry in to these corruption allegations, the Ministry of Foreign Relations has already concluded through a very peculiar press release on 29th May 2020 that all transactions concerning Saroja Sirisena had been done in a proper manner according to the established procedures and circulars. It is unclear if Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena had endorsed this press release.

Prior to this Colombo Telegraph also exposed several irregularities that tantamount to financial fraud committed by Foreign Ministry’s Secretary, Aryasinha and High Commissioner in London, Sirisena while she was the Ambassador in Vienna. Among these irregular transactions is an approval granted by Aryasinha for a non-essential, non-emergency, medical procedure for Sirisena at a cost of USD 66,284.65 (Rs. 12.3 million) where the circumstances of the case did not legally justify her to undertake this procedure in the USA when many other cheaper options were available.

In addition to the approval to undergo the medical procedure in a third country there are several violations of law and government financial regulations in the manner in which these monies were supposedly transferred to the medical facility in Salt Lake City, Oregon which should open up inquiries into money laundering and embezzlement.

Colombo Telegraph separately exposed how the duo had manipulated the quotations for the air ticket, for which Aryasinha had approved EUR 3,152 when embassy officials had obtained quotations as low as EUR 1,293.

Public officials are confused about what warranted this extra-special treatment for one ambassador for Sri Lanka over all others. Most astounding to most at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other related state institutions is the patriotism the duo wear on their sleeves for the benefit of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime while robbing the Sri Lankan tax payer blind.

*All monetary figures are based on the current foreign exchange rates.

(By Chinthika de Silva)

Related stories:

Rs 700,000 Personal Air Ticket Bonanza Courtesy Tax-Payers For Foreign Secretary Ravinatha’s Pet Saroja Sirisena

Exposé: Tax Payer Pays Staggering Rs 13 Million For Saroja Sirisena’s US Surgery

The Saroja-Ravinatha Saga Part-3: Duo Commits Outright Fraud In Air Ticket Purchase

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Latest comments

  • 26
    9

    Ok ok, things are not looking good.
    Ravinatha is continuously under attack.
    There should be a valid reason for this.
    As I said in my first comment to a series of articles about Ravinatha, there is a move to replace him with a Major General, so that Gotabhaya has an easy way to sign the MCC Compact Agreement.
    Gotabhaya’s hunting dogs are on the loose.
    Beware, Ravinatha!
    It seems that freelance writer, Rajeewa Jayaweera has also been a target.
    As I wrote to a Sinhala Daily, there is a silent terror going on in the country which is covered by saffron robes.
    Killer is on the road, guys. Be cautious!

    • 9
      1

      Champa, I haven’t a clue as to who you really are, but I don’t think that you will ever be under threat, because you write sincerely and consistently. That there is much going on that we don’t understand going on is clear. What you say always elucidates, even if I don’t always agree with your thinking.
      .
      About Jayaweera, this is the man we’re talking about:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/srilankan-airlines-airbus-deal/
      .
      I found this,
      .
      http://www.dailynews.lk/2020/06/13/local/220638/man-found-dead-gunshot-injuries-independence-square
      .
      but that was after my Belgian neighbour had told me that the man (whom he knew fairly well) had shot himself because it was predicted by doctors that he would go blind, and had some terminal illness. Apparently, his efforts to deposit money for his funeral had been repudiated by some undertaker.

      • 7
        2

        Sinhala_Man
        About Rajeewa, like everybody else, I also didn’t have any suspicions, until I received some other information such as an article found in his computer alerting the readers of possible dangers posed by the two military task forces appointed by the President and that he was worried that his long journey for a just society will soon be ended. How? I don’t know.
        Others say, his decision to kill himself in a high-security-zone is weird.
        People talk about similar cases in the past too.
        I did not believe that there had been abductions when GR was the Defence Secretary, until I learnt about the abduction and threatening of Garnia, the Swiss Embassy employee, within two weeks of his Presidency.
        As Rajeewa is said to have warned, there are two governments in the country. The best example is, when Minister Bandula Gunwardene denies any government involvement in the attack of protesters in front of the US Embassy, Defence Secretary, Major General (Retd.) Kamal Gunaratne takes the full responsibility of the attack. KG has even “criticized” the protesters for “trying to teach a lesson to the US,” conveniently forgetting that many Sri Lankans in the past have united to show their strong protest to the US and other countries against war crimes allegations. His criticism against freedom of speech and expression is not a good sign.

        • 7
          6

          Dear Champa,
          at the beginning of Rugby Player- Wassim Thadjudeen was reported as to have occured by an accident even if injured player was found in the front passenger seat.
          :
          But it became clear that it was a murder. So I think Rajeeva’s death is mistery. We will definitely get to know more of the fake-suicide in the day days, weeks, months to come.

        • 7
          3

          Sinhala_Man
          I have more other specific info about Rajeewa’s death.
          It is not a suicide but the killer has taken pains for it to look like a suicide by leaving “extra thoughtful collection of evidences,” some of which are actually funny.

          • 5
            11

            Champa, Please stop hijacking this unrelated thread for your personal delusions. You are worse than the people circulating Rajeewa’s detailed suicide letter online. He is a man who had a number of personal problems over the past decades and has been under untold stress. He also resigned all of his positions in January and February because he obviously had planned this for some time including transferring significant amounts of money to family members and the domestic. The editor of the CT himself has gone on record stating that the note is authentic.

            Please do not disgrace yourself further with these BS conspiracy theories, at least for the benefit of the surviving family/ex, some of whom are very prominent businesspeople in the country.

            • 10
              3

              Walter Bagehot
              If you think that you have a right to express your opinion, I also have the same right to express my opinion.
              I didn’t read any letters circulated by people online.
              Two deaths have occurred in the high security zone while the country is said to have in the highest security alert. One is Rajeewa and the other is a man called Sunil Jayewardene.

            • 7
              3

              Walter Bagehot
              I am sure you know about Rajeewa. I don’t know any changes he made to his life during January and February, but I very well remember seeing an article written by him here on CT even in mid April. I have read many of his articles. From the way he expresses his ideas, he cannot be someone who would use “a gun” to end his life. May be something else. But not a gun.
              Anyways, what I understand from your comment is that he lived with all these problems over a decade until this happened to him on June 13, right?
              As I said in my other reply, I am very concerned about these two deaths occurred in a high security zone.
              Some specific info that drew my attention was the gunshot.
              Did anybody in that area hear a gunshot or did he use a sound suppressor? I am sure the Police can find some clue in his pocket, may be another receipt.
              How did he come to Independence Square? By car or by walking? The Police has no clue. May be you have. I will tell you. I think he was killed when he was sleeping, then changed his clothes and then taken to Independence Square. Why? They want to warn people. That is why they have chosen a public place.

              • 6
                0

                Champa@
                thank you very much

                I think it is high time, to define the high security zone looking at the two meditated deaths in that zone within 5 days ?

                . I have no doubt, none of us could easily stop thinking that RJ s death is not misterious, if we would closely look at the manner the kind of deaths were common prior to 2015.

                Mr Bagehot or the like me seem to make every effort to support their men may know lot more not only about the RJ s but also well about Lasantha s, Eknaligoda s or those youth got murdered by Navy, Army or marine forces during the high days of MaRa admistration.
                :

              • 3
                2

                Dear Detective Inspector Champa

                Argumentum ad populum (perhaps rock ‘n roller Sinhala Man can explain that to you as you don’t get this civilized discourse thing at all). Yes, you can certainly express your opinion, but not to the extent of fabricating theories when there is a family left behind. Yes, his (third, estranged) wife has some business involving the UK but is obviously not favoured by him as indicated in his note and was well known to his social circle of which you were not a part.

                Also what is this nonsense about Independence Square being a high security zone? Thousands of people walk that way at all hours of day and evening so how is it a mystery to you if someone managed to get there late night? If you know the area you will know it is not residential.

                The onus is on you to provide the evidence if you think this was foul play. If not, you are just trying to be relevant off the tragic situation around mental health in sri Lanka.

                I cannot comment on the cases raised by Leela’s Bro. However, anyone with a bit of common sense knows the reign of terror that prevailed from 2010-2015 and the number of disappearances and killings.

                • 1
                  3

                  Walter Bagehot
                  You seem to be very uncomfortable about my comment.
                  The note you are talking about is not hand-written.
                  The questions raised in my comment were entirely based on my own observations.
                  However, I should admit that my suspicion was aroused only after I saw Rajeewa’s photo. By that time other people have also raised some concerns.
                  About the gunshot: What I meant by a high security area is that it is common knowledge that the area is very safe. Many people who are not ordinary use this area for jogging/walking. A number of government and private institutions are located near Independence Square which I am sure are guarded by night watchmen. As sound travels, especially through a quiet area on a tranquil night, someone in the proximity of 1 – 2 km should have heard the gunshot, if he actually killed himself there.
                  Also, the position of Rajeewa’s dead body is weird. The way his hand is positioned, it looks like he was sleeping under the tree the whole night. Based on “your theory”, maybe he has walked all the way to Independence Square carrying a gun, got tired and decided to sleep under the tree “after” shooting himself! Also there was no abandoned vehicle in the vicinity. It is obvious that his body was brought there after killing him somewhere else.
                  Needless to say, I am very sad about Rajeewa’s death.

          • 4
            2

            Sinhala_Man; Champa;l eelagemalli
            Suicide theory does not hold water.
            Apparently his wife is living in London.
            I am sure, unless the family is warned to keep quiet, Truth will come out about Rajeewa’s death sooner or later

            • 4
              0

              DearS SM, Champa, Rajash,
              .
              There is a letter which is now said to have written by RJ is now being circulated in Social media since y day.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpDsQcoYoRI

              This letter reminds me – there was a letter written by a former army intelligence officer, was published by GoTa et al immediately after that officer committed suicide in Kegalle area. This was 2-3 years ago, his suicide was connected with investigations of sunday leader editor*s broad day light murder in the high days of MaRa rule.

              And not to forget, that RJ s murder is being investigated under the guidance of the men that vehemently oppose that Rugby player, Wasim Thajudeen s death occured by an accident – okay ? we are not reborn although some may have been suffering from selective memory disturbances.

      • 2
        3

        Champa,
        “As I wrote to a Sinhala Daily, there is a silent terror going on in the country which is covered by saffron robes.”
        What has happened to you? Saffron robes???
        Have the evangelicals finally got you?
        Next thing, are you going to tell us that the famous Humanitarian Operation was not all that humanitarian?

        • 2
          0

          old codger
          Nope. No way.
          What I meant by saffron robes is that the President has the habit of seeking the refuge of “saffron colour” to cover up his wrong decisions.

          • 2
            0

            Champa,
            I am soo relieved to read that. It would be so boring if we were all on the same side.😁

    • 7
      5

      As for Ravinatha, I have no idea what sort of guy he is now. I knew him to be an intelligent guy when I taught him. there is some Bagehot guy imagines that I must be held responsible for all things done by a guy whom I have taught. His antagonism appears to be founded on my exposing that there was absolutely no election conducted here:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/challenging-three-cheating-thomian-pharisees-and-not-doing-it-from-behind/
      .
      I do understand when you feel that this has nothing to do with you. However, these schools enjoy disproportionate importance in our society – and the cheating is so obvious.
      .
      Once the National Parliamentary elections are over, the Anglicans will elect a new Bishop. Let’s hope that the guy who gets elected is at least honourable. I hope that if CT publishes another exposure by me, lots of readers will respond in terms of decrying all cheating.
      .
      The only way that we can can cleanse our society is to expose every clear case of dishonesty. Sometimes the facts are not clear – are susceptible to many interpretations – not here.

      • 5
        4

        Sinhala_Man
        Ravinatha hasn’t done anything wrong.
        If anyone finds faults with this payment, then all the former Foreign Secretaries should be investigated for approving billions of dollars for Foreign Ministers and their families who have wasted public money for their unethical and excessive expenses.

        • 2
          1

          Champa,CT has published credible evidence how can you be so sure to say “Ravinatha hasn’t done anything wrong”? Are you his doppelganger? Surely all former Secretaries would have made many more payments while abiding the ministry financial regulations, not based on favoritism, or on fake claims. This whole thing has come to light, after RA refused to make a very legitimate payment on a claim submitted by another Foreign Service officer. It was not a falsify claim like Saroja’s claim, to transfer money to Salt Lake City where no one would go to get advanced medical treatment by spending $65,000. Anyone who can spend that much money would go to NY, Jones Hopkins, Washington DC, California or any medically advanced place. But the fact is those places would not issue a medical certificate indicating false diagnosis, they would issue a real authentic paperwork indicating the real diagnosis. If it was plastic surgery, she cannot bill it to the SL government. They cannot justify that payment, that is why all hush, hush dealing. It is not the amount of money, it is the fraud they committed together to get this unauthorized treatment. People in glass houses should “wear proper clothes”.

      • 2
        1

        SM,

        For a number of reasons, I think Walter Bagehot is the same person who used to write as Ben Hurling. My memory was hazy, but it has come back.

        I used to think, for reasons of their commonality, such as experimentation with a writing style that used single word sentences frequently, some familiarity with the UK and the music of Tamil rapper MIA, that Ben Hurling was Uditha Devapriya. The latter might have now changed his style, and his avatar in CT comments may adopt a different tone and persona than his columns, but I still think they are probably the same person. BH and WB wouldn’t comment under Devapriya’s articles; for a few days before the publication of the latter’s columns, BH/WB would be absent from CT. And BH used to be more hard line toward Tamils during and immediately after the war but gradually became a little more liberal, occasionally engaging with Native Vedda. WB fits that profile as well. NV/Old Codger/SJ may also want to take note and think about it.

        • 1
          1

          Agnos,
          W.B is some sort of economist/ accountant, because he goes into detailed analysis of some articles on economics. Also, the original Bagehot was an economist
          Uditha is no economist. Neither is he aggressive.
          Still, I don’t think we should bother much about who commenters actually are. You might be surprised that my own online persona might not tally with the real one!

          • 0
            0

            //surprised that my own online persona might not tally with the real one!//
            .
            Old Codger, an
            Artful Dodger?
            Howzat! for a spin,
            this surprise Twist!

            • 0
              1

              More like “Fagin” than “Artful Dodger”

            • 0
              0

              SAV,
              “Old Codger, an
              Artful Dodger?”
              Really, I think my neighbours would be very surprised if I was seen alive in Independence Square, let alone dead.

          • 1
            1

            OC,

            These days many people are autodidacts in politics and economics. They don’t need to be formally trained. It is often young people who call retired people ‘senile’ as WB did with SM. And people who take Anglican pseudonyms once are likely to do so again. So I have my suspicions, but I will let it go.

        • 2
          0

          Agnos

          I started engaging with Ben Hurling during our days at DBS Jeyaraj’s (media) Transcurrent, Federal Ideas, and finally DBS Jeyaraj.com. He sounded like an ultra nationalist, who never wanted to refer back to the past. After the war he gradually converted being a Liberal, anti government, anti MR, anti GR, …………. He is a good man who was caught between anti LTTE sentiment and his narrow nationalistic tendencies. He started changing once he realised the war victory was completely appropriated by the clan for itself, in terms of glory, pride, stolen gold, funds, …. history, ….

          I thought he was in his late 70s.
          He hasn’t posted any comments lately, perhaps he is too tired and disappointed.

          I wouldn’t not recognise Walter Bagehot as Ben Hurling.

          “BH and WB wouldn’t comment under Devapriya’s articles; for a few days before the publication of the latter’s columns, BH/WB would be absent from CT. “

          There is nothing important or interesting about Devapriya’s articles which required no comments. His writings (typing) follow the style of Darshanie Ratnawalli and Malinda Seneviratne, style takes over substance, mostly irritating, facts are either absent or twisted …. and having a distorted perception.

          • 1
            0

            NV,

            OK, but I don’t think someone in his 70’s would like the music of MIA. And the writing style seemed too similar to be just a coincidence. But as OC says it isn’t a big deal.

          • 1
            0

            Native,
            “started engaging with Ben Hurling during our days at DBS Jeyaraj’s (media) Transcurrent, Federal Ideas, and finally DBS Jeyaraj.com. “
            Aha ! So you aren’t some school-teaching young fellow?

            • 1
              0

              old codger

              You caught me there.
              It was only 10 to 12 years ago.
              I never said I am a thumb sucking baby.
              Anyhow I have grown up double fast since I indulged myself in comment sections. Oh man its like drug.
              Anyhow are you keeping yourself well.

              I have been wondering how those who have mistress manage the days without whose soothing touch especially under lock down at home? Any idea?

    • 4
      2

      Some facts after research on this issue
      1.Residences:
      Germany Ambassador’s residence monthly cost euro 15,000 since year 2000.
      Paris residence owned by sri Lanka euro 14,000 per month residence rented during renovation
      Italy residence euro 12,000 per month, leased since 1995
      These are the going rates in Western countries and Austria is no exception with a per capita income even higher than UK. Even Ambassadors residences in Colombo cost over 10,000 $
      2. Medical
      All foreign mission employees are given medical cover by the government, confirmed by paying 200,000 australian dollars for a very junior employee. 150,000 euros in Paris for another junior employee’s medical.
      3. Education cost in europe per child is between per year 25,000- 35000 euros paid for 2 children.
      When staff are based in Sri Lanka international school fees are paid by the government for 2 children.
      total Education cost of 2 children for 12 years will be well over half a million (500,000$) dollars/euros (over 100 million rupees)
      4. Ministry/Embassy sources inform that not a single piece of furniture has been bought for Vienna in 2019 so 20,000 figure published is false.
      5. the transport and storage costs have been incurred while there was no ambassador in post.

      • 5
        5

        CT it is best to expose the cost for rent, medical expenses & education of all Sri Lanka’s Embassy staff over the past 20 years. Then you can request steps to be taken to save tax payer money by changing the current eligibility criteria for expenses.

        • 5
          2

          Ranil
          As far as I know, the rates are determined based on United Nations salary scales, rent ceilings and medical allowances, which are reviewed annually (or biennially).
          In most cases, Sri Lankan government’s overseas allowances are well below the levels maintained by other Embassies.

      • 3
        3

        I would like to add one more point to your list.
        6). Ambassadors are entitled for Business Class travel.

      • 5
        1

        These is unbelievable. Looking at the numbers it seems that the foreign missions are extremely expensive places to manage for a small country like ours. This may be a good opportunity for the govt. to re-evaluate these expenses in comparison to what our neighbors India, Nepal, Maldives and Bangladesh spend and adjust accordingly. Also staff qualified and experienced in diplomacy with relevant skills including languages have to be appointed to justify the spending including centralizing the locations.

    • 4
      2

      The body in media was on a sleeping position. It is possible to get a position like that only after dead, or in night during a restful sleep. I yet have to read somewhere how Rajeeewa gained that position while he was killing himself.

    • 3
      2

      Champa,No, he doesn’t have to be aware of anything. Story goes he is getting Australian HC position. Apparently his son is in Australia. It is like a “turtle gets thrown in water as a punishment”. Like Saroja got London to be with her NEW husband by chasing Manisha, RA too seems getting rewarded for these financial crimes. Is this how things happen in our “Wonder of Asia”? IS THIS THE CHANGE YOU PROMISSED TO US MR. PRESIDENT? Crooks belong behind bars get promotions to be with their loved ones? Foreign office folks say from the day one, this duo knew how to manipulate people with power to their benefit. They are the birds of the feather in every way, both public and private lives. Use unethical media personnel and corrupt politicians for their benefits, loot public money without any guilt. The way both received their educational qualifications too are questionable. Samuel Johnson once said “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. That saying suits these two. This duo becomes patriotic for their personal benefits. WE STRONGLY URGE THE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER GUNAWARDENA TO INVESTIGATE THIS FRAUD THOROUGHLY AND DO THE JUSTICE TO THE POOR PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY.

      • 0
        1

        Guruge
        Ravinatha hasn’t done anything wrong.
        No Secretary will approve a payment without the recommendation of the subject officer.
        The subject officer won’t recommend a payment without checking the relevant regulations and supported documents
        Then there is the involvement of the subject clerk who is an expert in government laws, circulars and regulations.
        Also, all the decisions have to be properly minuted in the file.
        Haven’t you noticed the fax referred to, is copied to CA (Chief Accountant)?

        • 0
          0

          Ooooops, “supporting” documents.

    • 1
      1

      Champs,
      “As I wrote to a Sinhala Daily, there is a silent terror going on in the country which is covered by saffron robes.”
      What has happened to you? Saffron robes???
      Have the evangelicals finally got you?

      • 2
        1

        old codger

        “Have the evangelicals finally got you?”

        One day you might find Champa defending Thiruvengadam Vellupillai Prabaharan for reasons she only knows.
        She used to be an ardent supporter of MR, WW, Gota, Saffron Brigade …… now she opposes all these crooks.
        Do you think she/he/it a secret admirer of Thiruvengadam Vellupillai Prabaharan and part of a sleeper cell of LTTE?

        • 1
          0

          Native,
          Anything is possible, but at the moment she stoutly denies it. Nowadays she doesn’t admire Lemonpuff Wansa, even secretly.

        • 0
          1

          Keyboard Vedda
          Your comment is too decent to be real Native Vedda’s.
          What you said about me is also wrong. I did NOT support GR.
          I am not against MR either who is still our heart and soul.
          About WW and Maha Sangha, who says I am against them? I am only mad and disappointed at their silence.

  • 12
    5

    To the Editor,
    Thank you for the series of articles that uncovered the misuse of funds by the Foreign Ministry whilst the country deals with a debt mountain, for which all governments bear responsibility.
    The implications of such expenditure should be articulated well and communicated to the general public in Sri Lanka to generate public support for policy action at the highest levels. Surely, there should be newspapers in Colombo that would be willing to publish such misuse.
    While many commentators have expressed the view that the government is moving to a dictatorship, based on the appointment of military staff to run some departments and to deliver on the functions assigned to task forces, the majority of Sri Lankans are willing to allow Gota to run the country longer before forming an opinion. Such a view is not based on any hard evidence (hard evidence is not available) but based on discussions I had with reasonably independent people in Colombo.

    • 5
      3

      Sunil Abeyratne

      “Thank you for the series of articles that uncovered the misuse of funds by the Foreign Ministry whilst the country deals with a debt mountain, for which all governments bear responsibility.”

      Is there any hard evidence to suggest the entire ministry is involved in this “misuse” of funds, going by CT reports just two patriotic crooks happened to be employed by the ministry?

      By the way Cambridge Dictionary defines words as following:

      Misuse – to use something in an unsuitable way or in a way that was not intended

      Steal – To take something without the permission or knowledge of the owner and keep it.

      Theft – The act of dishonestly taking something that belongs to someone else and keeping it

      • 5
        1

        Thank you for your observations!
        There is no hard evidence to suggest that the entire ministry is involved, although the accountability resides with the head of the ministry. Neither is there hard evidence to exclude the possibility that all actions have been duly authorized. It is for this reason that the answers should be sought from the individual who is accountable.
        Thank you extracting the definitions for some words for my benefit!!
        The most appropriate word is ‘misuse’ because I refuse to make allegations without hard evidence just in case all actions have been duly authorized.

        • 2
          0

          Sunil Abeyratne

          Its a futile attempt to defend the indefensible.
          Please ask yourself “what is in it for me”?

  • 10
    4

    wow, this dame Saroja Sirisena seems to have been born blessed with 24 carats genuine gold on certain parts of her body.?
    =
    Ariyasingha for reasons best known to him seems to have a soft rigid corner in his body for this damsel who has swept him off his feet.?
    =
    as high commissioner, one has to be allowed to live in upmarket surroundings which keeps to the dignity of the position but cost-cutting has to be strictly enforced in all quarters due to the dire economic conditions prevailing in the motherland of Sri Lanka.
    =
    I applaud this damsel for being a direct entrant to the foreign service department on either influence or merit but she should be given the same equal treatment as what is given to the other officials but am bewildered and shocked beyond any reasonable doubts as to why this president along with his older brother the prime minister and the rest of the ministers are giving a blind eye to the cabaret antics of these two alleged fraudsters who are doing an elaborate tango not at their costs.
    =
    I was told recently that Ariyashingha was going to be demoted and posted as the high commissioner to Australia if this occurs, unfortunately, the foreign exchange reserves of the sad sorry nation Sri Lanka will be further depleted but not to the extent as what he is and has been doing.?

    • 10
      4

      Ariyasingha is plagued with an infectious disease worse than the coronavirus and it’s known around the world as —
      MKR [ modayata Kimber rattharan ]
      what a fool and he is definitely a sitter cum shitter on his brain.
      Another Yakko bugger down the toilet.

  • 11
    2

    OMG. There is a talk going on among Foreign Ministry folks about how Ariyasingha’s buddies who helped him to get his current job are facing disasters. Island writer who supported by writing untruth killed himself, Sirasa guy who supported now with a blood cancer, Sunday Times guy got exposed for what he did with WORD document, this Saroja woman seems getting caught in fraud. How many more are there in the list? Hope these are coincidences not natural, karmic retributions given by law of Nature.

  • 14
    5

    CT

    I am told many members of smart ass patriotic Sri Lankan diaspora pat themselves on their back for persuading Saroja Sirisena to clarify the word “EELAM” as if it was coined by LTTE and had Guardian removed it from its pages. This is brilliant act of patriotism.

    Her patriotic act reminds me of Dr Samuel Johnson’s quote:
    “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.
    In the case of Sri Lanka the quote rings true.

    All crooks, war criminals, murderers, cheats, thiefs, …………… hide behind their fake patriotism. Those who believe in honesty, behave honourably, … need not to hide behind their stage managed nationalism, whipping up dead LTTE.

    She needs to learn her history of the island before typing nonsense.

  • 7
    1

    MODAYATA K……..MBA RATHARAM.

  • 6
    12

    Impression I get while reading the article is that…..
    …..GR and MR governed the country from 2015 onwards.
    .

    • 6
      1

      Sinkala Pasquali,

      You are right . Your LOVERS are NOT GUILTY. Saroja is a WAR WIDOW and will be PARDONED.

    • 7
      1

      S. C. Passqual

      “Impression I get while reading the article is that…..
      …..GR and MR governed the country from 2015 onwards.”

      Good guess.
      Precisely that was what happened between 2015 and 2019, GR and MR had their front man, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

      Why did it take so long (almost 5 years) for you to figure it out?
      You must very dumb.

  • 12
    5

    In a virtuous and disciplined society , patriotism means special privileges and entitlements.

  • 12
    3

    It is a well known fact in Foreign Ministry that RA was involved in removing Manisha to pay back Saroja for helping him to get the Secretary position. RA was the one who poisoned Mahinda Rajapaksa against Manisha. Same way he poisoned Maithreepala against Secretary Kariyawasam. Many have seeing RA in Maithreepala’s back office having lunch before the constitutional coup. Then he leaked the confidential documents to his media buddies. Saroja gave those to her ex husband to use in the Parliament. Woman in Singapore too is a partner in the conspiracy. Unlike crafty Saroja, she is bit of a dumb woman. The duo should be interdicted immediately for embezzlement of public funds. If proven guilty their assets should be impounded, and give them the maximum punishment. Foreign Ministry people say Saroja has been doing this from the beginning. Why Minister Dinesh Gunawardena is silent about this? There should be a departmental inquiry and an audit query. Story goes now the duo is trying to hide their tracks. RA is trying to get documents from Vienna Embassy, but Saroja had destroyed documents relevant to her, before she left. So in the eyes of law, only RA will be the culprit.

  • 7
    2

    Colombo Telegraph can now reveal another financial fraud, in the very least a criminal wastage of public money in the magnitude of Rs. 42 million orchestrated by Aryasinha to ensure the luxury upkeep of Sirisena during her eight month stay in Vienna.

    Aryasinha authorized a multi-million rupee apartment for Sirisena’s use after cancelling the lease on the former ambassadorial residence rented at a much lower cost a few months before she arrived in the Austrian capital. The cost of the residence hand-picked by Sirisena was 11,000 Euro per month.

    *** Aryasinghe and Saroja have a famly connection ( it looks like ) because they look like brother and sister. But that aside Rs 41 million is nothing compared to what Gotha , MR. Basil , Weeratunga , Wimal the Wansa , Cabaral and so on have cost the Country. Under Gothas rule ( Dictatorial) she will be PARDONED by the King as she is classed as a WAR WIDOW.. She has already preented her credentials to the Queen.

    • 2
      1

      SL Ambassador’s residence in Germany monthly cost euro 15,000 since year 2000.
      During renovation of Paris residence owned by sri Lanka, rental property to house ambassador cost euro 14,000 per month. SL ambassador residence Italy costs euro 12,000 per month. These are the going rates in Western countries and very rich & expensive Austria is no exception with a per capita income even higher than UK. Even Ambassador level residences for rent in Colombo 7 cost over 10,000 $ (2 million rupees)/month. So euro 11,000 spent in Austria sounds infact a bit on the cheap side. Most people commenting have no idea regarding standard costs with housing, medical, schooling etc in various countries as appropriate for the post. If you live in a cheap slum while in post, you will be treated accordingly by the host country and other foreign diplomats, and the country’s interests will never be served.

      • 2
        1

        Ranil, that’s not the point here. In Vienna, Sri Lanka had an excellent Residence rented for a reasonable price, because we have been renting it for a long time. If repairs needed, it is the responsibility of the owner. If she could not stay at the residence during repairs, renting a place for short time is a different matter. But totally giving up a very good place which was less costly, and had been used by all the previous ambassadors, to fulfill her whims and fancies, is a crime against the poor suffering people of Sri Lanka. I don’t believe the previous ambassadors lived in a cheap slum. I remember something similar happened in Washington DC. A man named Subasinghe was appointed by RW. His wife, a foreign national, was not happy about the residence. While the Residence belonged to Sri Lanka, he rented an apartment spending a thumping amount while neglecting the residence. Story goes he rented his own apartment, and our poor people paid for it. The point is, though he was a crook, not a SL public servant. He was not bound by our public service laws and establishment code. This duo is public servants, should be answerable.

      • 3
        0

        “SL Ambassador’s residence in Germany monthly cost euro 15,000 since year 2000.>”

        This cant be … I know the house rent would not be that much in Germany. I know this for sure. If you would disagere, please add me a link.. thanks

  • 5
    3

    I remember Ravinath as a young Cadet from the MFA trying to interview JR at a function at the BMICH in 1984.JR called him a upstart and reprimanded him.I did not know that this recruit rose up to be the3 Secretary MFA.I am surprised as to why the GOSL cannot find a replacement with much diplomacy and foresight without keeping this official who is having a soft corner for female diplomats!!!!

  • 6
    3

    For Mother Lanka we all have to do our bit so I ask all the readers to write to IMF warning IMF of where the $1.5 Billion will go if granted. In Gothas coffers to pay for his cohorts

  • 6
    3

    Thank you Chinthaka for this expose.
    /
    How unfair is this? There are thousands of women like us who have been caught in exploitative marriages to foreigners tasting the world, and left with children and nothing but state welfare in developed countries.
    /
    Our government has done nothing for us.
    /
    This matter should be fully investigated and culprits punished.

    • 3
      3

      Roo Slavewoman

      “This matter should be fully investigated and culprits punished.”

      Yes it should be, however are you suggesting that we import foreign judges, Juries, …. ?

    • 1
      1

      Give a shot if you can get any share. But, keep in mind, if Oil man does not come here, Hisbullah cannot distribute the sales commission. Then your bosses have to depend on Iranian ships to bring the Badu to pay for you. (This is not rice from moon; It is a serious matter in some women life; don’t play your divisive election game even with that you slave donkey, the master’s voice).

  • 2
    2

    Aryasinha looks like Gemini Ganeshan in the small photo. Why is he throwing all his pounds in washing and polishing and shining the pennies?

  • 2
    0

    I have many a friend who were in the public service. They all tell me that Secretaries of Ministries are not necessarily all powerful as portrayed in these articles regarding foreign affairs. For every payment there is a chap called an officer certifying a payment who has to certify that the payment was effected through proper procedures. Usually that fellow is invariably the Chief Accountant. If alleged irregularities are true a good amount of the blame goes to him as well and is liable for a good part of the surcharge. That is why Secretaries of Ministries are really pally with the Chief Accountant and work hand in glove. They give good advice as to how to do things without getting caught. In this instance is everybody telling me and my friends that the Chief Accountant is a dumb mut who says “Yes Sir!” to the Secretary with the pants down so that the noose goes round his neck as well?

    • 3
      2

      Good Sense: The “Rule Book” you quote is correct. Now I would ask you to compare those “Rules” with the “Sil Redi” case. Ros 600 million was spent. Wasn’t the “Chief Accountant” responsible? Was he made an “Accused” in the case? How only the Secretary to the President and another from the SLRTC got punished? Even take the case of “Rajapakse Memorial” construction case. Was the “Chief Accountant” of UDA charged? For your information, the Secretary to the Ministry is the “Chief Accounting Officer” and he/she is responsible and accountable for all financial transactions. I may be wrong. Correct me please. Thank you.

  • 4
    2

    No, he doesn’t have to be aware of anything. Story goes he is getting Australian HC position. Apparently his son is in Australia. It is like a “turtle gets thrown in water as a punishment”. Like Saroja got London to be with her NEW husband by chasing Manisha, RA too seems getting rewarded for these financial crimes. Is this how things happen in our “Wonder of Asia”? IS THIS THE CHANGE YOU PROMISSED TO US MR. PRESIDENT? Crooks belong behind bars get promotions to be with their loved ones? Foreign office folks say from the day one, this duo knew how to manipulate people with power to their benefit. They are the birds of the feather in every way, both public and private lives. Use unethical media personnel and corrupt politicians for their benefits, loot public money without any guilt. The way both received their educational qualifications too are questionable. Samuel Johnson once said “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. That saying suits these two. This duo becomes patriotic for their personal benefits. WE STRONGLY URGE THE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER GUNAWARDENA TO INVESTIGATE THIS FRAUD THOROUGHLY AND DO THE JUSTICE TO THE POOR PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY.

  • 2
    2

    The country is gone for dogs. The mother of all Financial Frauds, Nuraicholai power plant is taking another extension. This is in addition to Homagagama Donkey Race betting site. That is, with Militarization, in parallel the Chinaziation on the move. Sunday Times where I saw this is just telling 300MW, but no other specification. No Project studied projects are mushrooming again. In so many directions now the country is geared and steered for deterioration. “Helm it towards hell”. The blind folded Court, The Military in Public Service Departments, Presidential Task forces for wash Royals’ backs, Corona Robberies, Election in the middle pandemic, Splitting democratic parties to make election victories only for personal & Royals’, running the government with Ayatollah’s dictations…………………..

  • 0
    3

    These people set the monetary trend for house and land prices, and medical care in Sri Lanka. Easily done with the Masses in the ME continuously supplying the Rupee value.

    • 0
      1

      But to be fair to them, it depends on any invaluable service they do for the Motherland….whether it can be measured quantitatively and qualitatively. Can’t throw out those babies with the bathwater…

    • 1
      0

      ramona scatter brain grandma therese fernando

      Are you sure you know what you are typing abou?

      Please clarify “Easily done with the Masses in the ME continuously supplying the Rupee value.”

      • 0
        0

        NV,
        try this phrase : “Propping up the ever exponential-izing value of the Rupee.” Comprendo?

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