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 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;