Puravesi Balaya Co-Convener Gamini Viyangoda, who had sent Letters of Demand to four parties demanding Rs. 500 million over their claims to the effect that he obtained sponsorships from Selacine and Litro Gas, has avoided key allegations levelled against him over misappropriation of public funds.
Viyangoda sent Letters of Demand to SLFP (SLPP) MP Kanchana Wijesekara, Iththekande Saddhatissa Thera, Magalkande Sudantha Thera and the ‘Sathi Aga Aruna’ newspaper owned by businessman Dilith Jayaweera.
Viyangoda, in his Letters of Demand, said he never obtained money or sought sponsorship from Litro Gas or Selacine, two state-run entities currently at the heart of a controversy over dishing out money to several civil society activists supporting ‘Yahapalanaya’.
However, Viyangoda, in his letter, conveniently avoided the ‘real allegation’ against him, by not addressing the issue surrounding his son-in-law, Subhash Pinnapola, who engaged in questionable business deals with the state-owned company Selacine.
Pinnapola, who was the Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett and Chief Creative Officer at TBWA, formed his own creative agency Storybook in January 2018.
Shortly after the formation of the company, Pinnapola received generous subcontracts from Selacine, a state-owned company that came under the purview of Samaraweera. Documents seen by Colombo Telegraph prove that Selacine has made payments to Pinnapola’s company, under direct authorization by Minister Mangala Samaraweera, as senior officials of Selacine were reluctant to proceed with the payments, as they had doubts about the procurement process.
The documents relating to the payments made to the company owned by Pinnapola warrants an investigation by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC)
“It was Viyangoda who was Pinnapola’s main link to the government. Viyangoda’s involvement in the Common Candidate’s election campaign in 2014-15 ensured that he established strong connections with the leaders of the ‘Yaapalanaya’ government, including Mangala Samaraweera,” a source close to Samaweera told Colombo Telegraph.
It is now clear that Viyangoda’s Letters of Demand were a blatant attempt at drawing more money from those who levelled allegations against him, without digging into the core questions surrounding his financial transparency.
Meanwhile, Viyangoda’s colleague, People’s Movement For Just Society stalwart Sarath Wijesuriya has also failed to respond to the main allegations against his conduct. Wijesuriya came under severe criticism for obtaining money from state institutions as “sponsorships” for his book launch.
The National Lotteries Board has granted Wijesuriya a sponsorship of Rs. 350,000 covering the full cost of one of his book launching ceremonies. The sponsorship letter, written by Wijesuriya to the management of the NLB, is now in the public domain. It is learnt that Wijesuriya has written similar letters to several state institutions and obtained money from them for the same event, despite the NLB covering its full cost.
Wijesuriya, another leading ‘Yahapalanaya’ activist, is yet to publicize the full budget of the book launching ceremony under question.
It is also important to examine whether Wijesuriya sought similar sponsorships for his book launching events from state institutions before the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government came to power.
The same applies to Dambara Amila Thera who said he obtained a monthly allowance of Rs. 95,000 for his research activities and social work. It is yet to be seen as to how Amila Thera found money for his research activities and social work before the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government first came to power.