31 October, 2020

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Free Roaming Kotelawala Threatens Talk Show Host

A bodyguard of Lalith Kotelawala the disgraced former Chairman of the Ceylinco group had allegedly threatened the interviewer of a state television station during an interview aired early this year, the Journalist revealed.

Upul Shantha Sannasgala

Upul Shantha Sannasgala

Upul Shantha Sannasgala who during the interview repeatedly posed questions regarding illegal dealings, and money laundering of Kotelawala, was threatened by a bodyguard who accompanied him to the studio.

“There were two body guards, both of whom were former Police officers. During a break after I had asked my questions, one of the bodyguards kept his hand on my shoulder and said ‘you have to ask the questions we want you to ask’- ‘I told him if you want me to ask the questions that you want asked you sit here and I’ll come and sit where you are” he said.

Sannasgala made the revelation during the final show of the ‘Sathyagaraya’ programme in which he was the subject of the discussion.

“That was the day I felt what a death threat would be like. Even after the interview I was a bit worried when I was going home, because Kotelawala walked out saying ‘you ruined me’ ( Thamuse mage jeewithe kaawa).

During the interview, Kotelawala was repeatedly questioned about his questionable financial dealings since the early 90’s to which he provided no answers.

Instead he attempted to deviate the conversation to the ‘new era’ which had dawned after his money was ‘stolen from the Rajapaksas.

Sannasgala thereafter pointed out with documents many transactions which were concluded under Kotelawala patronage during the early 90’s, the time in which no Rajapaksa was in power.

The repeated questioning on the deals with documentary proof of fraud left Kotelawala pleading for mercy from the interviewer.

“Why are you asking me these things now, I want to have a new beginning” he said.

It is during the break after the first round of questions that the threat was made by the body guard.

Kotelawala and his Directors are accused of swindling Billions of rupees from the Golden Key Credit Card Company, Ceylinco Shriram and F and G property developers.

Although Directors have been indicted before the Colombo and Kandy high Court trials are yet to commence, despite an order of day to day trial by the then sitting Chief Justice.

Except for a few days in remand none of the accused have been imprisoned, nor have they been held accountable for the frauds which left thousands destitute.

Kotelawala was released on bail by an out of the ordinary mode by the Supreme Court in 2009. Under usual circumstances, once remanded by the Magistrates Court it is the High Court which grants bail a procedure negated in the current case.

Romesh De Silva PC with ‘good governance’ activist Sugath Caldera appear for Lalith Kotelawala.

During the programme aired last week, Sannasgala said that the innocent Golden Key depositors would not be paid because there are many people who protect Kotelawala.

“I have a name list of these depositors and they include many in the judiciary, prominent clergy, sportsmen among others. I beleive that it is they who are blocking the repayment and until they are there these innocent depositors would never be paid” he said.

Below is the link in which Sannasgala details the threats made to him during the interview;

Interview with Kotelawala;

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Latest comments

  • 20
    0

    Little doubt Sathyagaraya has raised the bar for journalism in Sri Lanka.

    My favourite was the exposure of current “leader of the opposition” Nimal Siripala.

    Cheers!

    • 4
      1

      wonder whether a link can be given to the interview with Nimal Siripala.

      • 4
        0

        Amazing this kind of poeple have been walking the corridors of power in our country:
        [Edited out]

  • 14
    4

    I was impressed with the honest and candid manner in which Mr Sannasgala conducted the initial interviews in Satyagaraya including that of Lalith Kotalawala (even though the manner and tone of questioning was a bit undiplomatic).

    However Sannasgala conducted the interview with Ranil Wickramasinghe in a different manner. The questions were soft and formulated to enhance the reputation of RW which was in total contrast to the previous episodes.

    A primary requirement for journalist to excel he/she should be independent on their questioning and reporting. Knowing Sannasgala had earlier requested RW to give a lecture to his students and a sympathiser of the UNP I consider that Sannasgala did not fulfill this essential critireon.

    • 15
      3

      well how about the interviews GOATa gave while MR was the President in regard to the illegal 3rd term MR was contesting..IF SF was jailed coz he participated in election rallies while being a govt servant, Gota should be jailed too for doing the same thing…Sauce for teh Goose is Sauce for teh Gander….ALL people who interviewed GOTA seemed so soft on him, may be coz of threats…

      I remember an interview on Derana by Dilki Samanmalee who I don’t see anymore in the program named 360°…

      • 4
        1

        I only wrote about the independance of Sannasgala as a journalist and not about other journalists in Sri Lanka.

    • 15
      4

      I wouldn’t agree. The truth is RW is not a complex individual and his life is more or less an open book.
      Only question that was left out about his sexual orientation. That is a private matter and not relevant to running the country.
      RW gave candid answers to very direct questions. If he didn’t have anything nefarious that is not his fault.

      • 4
        3

        While I don’t want to get involved in a detailed analysis of Sannasgala’s interview with RW I will give one example to substantiate my point.

        He posed the easy question (along with the answer) how RW held UNP together for the last 20 years without allowing it to break up in spite of unrest within the party, an easy full toss.

        However he did not pose the more difficult question `What was the reason for the unrest within his twenty years as the leader of UNP that compelled so many elected MPs to leave UNP from Dr Sarath Amunugama to Dayasiri Jayasekera.

        Even the initial question posed – the easy full toss – was not essentially a serious question as the UNP had historically NOT divided into factions even during serious differences between Dudley/JR and Premadasa / Gamini, Lalith ears. (My personal opinion is that the socio-economic background of the UNPers is such that they tend to close ranks behind their leader in times of a crisis unlike the more socialist SLFP).

        When we examine his interview with Champika Ranawaka , with difficult questions and a good interview, the interview with RW appeared soft and easy.

        His personal actions such as invitation of RW to speak to his students and his subsequent attack on Ranawaka for not supporting UNP version of the 19A only corroborate my assumption that the interviews were not conducted as an INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST.

        • 6
          1

          “compelled so many elected MPs to leave UNP from Dr Sarath Amunugama to Dayasiri Jayasekera. “

          Huh , they were all opportunistic hypocrites , Ranil factor was only a scape goat for them to do the somersault , had Dayasorry remained in the UNP , he would have been eligible to be the leader of UNP (after Ranil) , instead what has happened to him, before long he realized that he had fallen in to a deep hole where he couldn’t come out , after becoming the CM , he knew that he is a toothless tiger , so that he wants to contest the upcoming General Election and enter parliament again , MY3 being a gentleman , has extended an olive branch to help this two tongued serpent to jump back to parliament. this is the guy who insulted our rural, humble president with vicious venom , hope CBK would intervene and eliminate his name from the list .

          • 3
            3

            “Huh , they were all opportunistic hypocrites”

            Theres’ none so blind as those who refuse to see

        • 0
          0

          This is not a question you should ask Ranil. Ask the 17 who left, why they did so,and what financial benefits they got from the other side.

          • 0
            0

            Its not 17. I think its over 65 MPs during the leadership of RW.

  • 5
    18

    Aha! So the Marapalanaya of the Yahapalanaya works underground. Very nice very nice taking the people for a ride as usual. Did this fool journalist make a police entry? If he did not why not? If he did not are we to believe him or is he simply trying to ruin our dearest born again Lalith whose father was a favorite of a former prime minister?

    • 7
      1

      “Marapalanaya”? Ha ha ha… poor sods trying to come up with catchy phases to “damage” the govt. And they suck at that too. They are too stupid to even realize the “MaRa-palayana” doesn’t quite suite this government. And to think their maha-eka had your future in his hands? This is the stuff that should send shivers down your spine.

  • 7
    7

    what BS this Upul Sannasgala was uttering about the name list of its Golden Key depositors , during his previous interview also , he tried to portray that list was exclusive hence can’t be published , what nonsense ! soon after the collapse of Golden Key financial institution , its depositors names were published in the Sunday leader and it was on public domain.

  • 19
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    Kotalawela has to be remanded again until all the depositers are paid.

    Sicile has to be also remanded.If the rajapakshes have touched the assets they also should be remanded.The more we remand the better and no prison hospital bullshit again.The prison doctor also should be remanded.

  • 14
    1

    Not only Kothalawala but his 20 deputy chairmen ruined the group due to greed.

    Most deputy chairmen earned Rs 5 m + per month before it collapsed 5 years ago and it was all from depositors money.

    Board members, senior management , CBSL, SEC, Registrar of Companies, internal auditors and external auditors all turned a blind eye.

  • 5
    0

    We all should strongly feel the extent of thuggary around us.

  • 10
    2

    I did not expect Lalith Kotalawela to behave like a street thug or like our thug ex president. Lots of people believe that if you have a family background or a good school, a person does not behave in this fashion. I have never supported this view and I am correct in that.

  • 10
    2

    We need someone like Jeramy Chapmen in the UK, In this regard Journalist Sannasgala is probably the best.

  • 5
    18

    This fellow Sannasgala is a boot licker of RW to save his position. He is a puppy dog when interviewing RW BUT uses all his power when with others.

    I happened to see his interview with Kotelawela. Sannasgala acted on a pre-planned agenda on information fed by Kotelawela rivals dating back to early 1990’s. Pulling out documents and asking him to recognise signatures of old documents. This is interrogation NOT media interview. So his so called ‘interview’ is to cater to people whom he has some benefit (may be monetary or otherwise).

    THIS MAN SANNASGALA IS A DISGRACE TO JOURNALISM AND SHOULD BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY TO BRING ANY CREDIBILITY TO ITN.

  • 5
    0

    I did not see Sannasgala’s interview with RW.

    If he had acted in any manner inappropriate to a investigative journalist those who watch the program surely have a right to criticise him to make him a stronger and better journalist. However, no one has any right to prevent and demand him to stop naming and shaming of those who are responsible for committing serious crimes

  • 1
    1

    I watched the program for reviewing the interviews, which US conducted so far. It is my opinion that he made mistake by passing his own judgement on those interviewed to the panel. All those persons interviewed, were his guests and his objective was to give the viewers the opportunity to judge. I have my doubts about anybody would accept his invitation in the future if he continues to pass judgement on his guests in their absence.

  • 7
    1

    Sanasgala asked questions from RW so that he could score.What does it matter with whom RW went to school ? Why make a big thing of it ? Are people like Anura Bandarnayake, Chandrika, dinesh Gunawardena, RW some cult figures ? These guys are exploiting their birth and status quo in a society which things highly of such things.I was hoping Sanagala would ask RW whether the UNP is internally democratic or whether RW is a popular politician ? We need to intellectually widen our horoizons

  • 4
    1

    Thanks to yahapalana or its attempt, journalism in its purest form is now reborn in our fair isle where nothing was fair for its people not long ago.

    BRAVO !!!

  • 1
    3

    Pro-LTTE EGO-maniac WANTS publicity VERY BADLY……..People DID SEE VERY WELL HIS LINE OF QUESTIONING in his stupic TV program was all to throw mud at Mahinda Rajapaksa……The man became who he is today BECAUSE OF THE MONEY HE BAGGED by tuition-kada…. not because he did anything for the community or for the country……the man VERY BADLY seeking ways to shine in the media……..like all other so-called journalists in SL, this guy too is SELF-APPOINTED JOKER………his MONEY PUT THE MAN IN THAT SEAT (with pillow under his as..s)……By the way, did you folks see the pillow the man had put under his as.s to lift himself up………..simply a joke…..lol

    ******PRABHAKARAN IS DEAD, BLAME MAHINDA AND GOTABAYA RAJAPAKSAS*********

  • 1
    0

    I watched the video and it was disgusting. I resent the way the interviewer was asking questions. Was he trying to be (David Frost, UK) or (60 minutes reporter-Mike Wallace, USA)? Both deceased. Its a shame that he(interviewer)was giving his opinion, most of the time, on what happened on Golden Key saga. I sympathaise with the people who lost money, but this is not the way to treat a person fallen from grace. Please note that Mr. Kothalawala is no saint nor Mother Theresa.

    At the start of the interview I thought the interviewer was great, but in the end he showed his true colors. Also people should have done their due diligence before investing. How can somebody pay you 30% guaranteed interest. There got to be a catch.

    Its like the fall of Enron (Energy broker) in Texas, USA.

  • 0
    0

    I watched the video and it was disgusting. I resent the way the interviewer was asking questions. Was he trying to be (David Frost, UK) or (60 minutes reporter-Mike Wallace, USA)? Both deceased. Its a shame that he(interviewer)was giving his opinion, most of the time, on what happened on Golden Key saga. I sympathaise with the people who lost money, but this is not the way to treat a person fallen from grace. Please note that Mr. Kothalawala is no a saint nor Mother Theresa.

    At the start of the interview I thought the interviewer was great, but in the end he showed his true colors. Also people should have done their due diligence before investing. How can somebody pay you 30% guaranteed interest. There got to be a catch.

    Its like the fall of Enron (Energy broker) in Texas, USA.

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