A secret bank account in the name of Bellimissa has been opened in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) just prior to the MiG deal.
According to the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) sources, the investigators who are dealing with the procurement of MiG-27 fighter jets to the Sri Lanka Air Force have managed to locate the account.
The account has been opened in 2006 just before the deal. Leak documents in Colombo Telegraph‘s possession confirms that their was no company called Bellimissa in the UK.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists the BVI has harbored perhaps 850,000 offshore companies (as much as 40 percent of the world total), with 450,000 of them still active.
Sri Lankan government has paid US$ 10.078 million for four MiG 27s in 2006. Two of these fighter jets were grounded after being purchased and unserviceable during the warranty period.
As Colombo Telegraph reported last week, when the FCID questioned, the former secretary to the ministry of defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the purchases were done in a proper way. When subjected to deeper questioning he said the person responsible for all those matters was Air Marshal Roshan Gunatileke, who was the Air Force Commander at that time.
Gotabaya said that the former Air Force Commander was responsible “if there were financial irregularities.” He said he was not to be blamed for that. He said people should realize that the war was won because these fighters were there and there should not be any investigations into these matters. In the process Gotabaya forgot that as then functioning Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, he was the Chief Account Officer and was responsible for all financial transactions.
When the MiG deal fell into media spotlight in December 2006, it was highlighted that so-called government-government deal involved payment to a mysterious third party, Bellimissa Holdings, UK. Bellimissa was in fact a ghost company that did not exist in any form in the UK. Even London address it had provided to the Defence Ministry was false.
Confirming the media reports, last month, the Interpol Headquarters has reported to the the FCID that there was no company called Bellimissa Holdings Limited in the UK.
The controversial MiG 27 deal was first revealed by Sunday Times Defence Correspondent and Senior Journalist Iqbal Athas in December 2006 and further exposed in The Sunday Leader then edited by murdered Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.
It was revealed in the front page report of The Sunday Times dated 03.12.2006 that four MiG 27s purchased in 2006 had been on the market for several years. They had lain in disuse since 1991 and were repaired by Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant before being sold to Sri Lanka. In fact, in 2000, three of these planes had been rejected by SLAF on two different occasions.
Firstly on May 25, 2000, when the SLAF purchased four MiG 27 aircrafts at US$ 1.5 million each, and next on October 24, 2000 when two more MiG 27 aircraft were purchased for US$ 1.6 million each. Thus, it appears that these very same MiG 27 aircraft had earlier been rejected by the SLAF in 2000 were purchased in 2006 at a cost of US$ 2.462 million each.
On the basis of The Sunday Times news report on March 11, 2007 Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi, two key minsters who broke away from the Rajapaksa government made complaint to the Bribery Commission alleging corruption part of the Presiden’ts brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Following the complaint the Ministry of Defence issued a statement on March 22, 2007, titled “MiG 27-Inside Story”. This statement is false in many aspects. On of the main issues is the MOD refers this procurement is as a deal between the producer government ( Ukraine ) and the Government of Sri Lanka. This statment is false for the following reasons. Ukrinmash from SLAF purchased these aircrafts is the self-supporting Foreign Trade Investment Subsidiary of UKPSPETSEXPORT – the State company responsible for the export of military products. Such organisation does not fall within the parameters of a government to government contact.
Under a Government to Government deal, monies must be paid to the relevant bank account of the Government or a Government Institution. The MiG purchase monies were not paid to a bank account of ukrimash in Ukraine either. Instead payments were made to the account of UK company named Billimissa Holdings.
Belimissa Holdings Limited is a party of the contact sign by the MOD. So the MOD is deliberately lied to the public to cover up this fraud.
Udayanga Weeratunga, a first cousin of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had allegedly involved in arms sales to separatist rebel fighters in Ukraine, was the main broker of the MiG Deal.
In February 2006, Udayanga Weeratunga was not Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Russia, but a Sri Lankan citizen resident in Ukraine. There was nothing to distinguish him from any other Sri Lankan apart from being a first cousin of the Rajapaksa brothers.
Records from the guard room of Air Force Headquarters indicate that Weeratuna visited the SLAF headquarters no less than 25 times to meet air force officials.
Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa filed legal action against The Sunday Leader newspaper to prevent further exposure of the corrupt deal. The investigative reports on the MiG deal proved to be one of the last reports on controversial defence purchases under Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s reign in Sri Lanka’s mainstream press. After The Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was killed, the newspaper was purchased by a Rajapaksa family friend Asanga Seneviratne. The Sunday Leader, on March this year apologised to Gotabaya Rajapaksa for a series of articles written in the newspapers in 2006 on the purchase of MIG 27 aircraft for the Sri Lankan Air Force. The unqualified apology was carried in The Sunday Leader newspaper of 8.3.2015.
On April 2, 2015, Colombo Telegraph exclusively reported that after violating all laid down norms for recruitment to the Sri Lanka Navy, the son of former President Yoshitha Rajapaksa received a 13th month course sponsored and paid for by Ukrinmarsh, the Ukranian Government’s “State Self-Supporting Foreign Trade and Investment Firm.”
It was all arranged by Udayanga Weeratunga, former Sri Lanka Ambassador to Russia and first cousin of Rajapaksa. This clearly shows that Weeratunga, who stands accused by the Ukranian Government of selling weapons to pro Russian separatist rebels was operating hand in glove with the former President and his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former Defence Secretary.