Member of Parliament Ravi Karunanayake, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Lotteries who tendered his resignation from his ministerial post last Thursday, diabolically lied and withheld crucial information when providing evidence at the Bond Scam investigation.
In his quest to quash crucial evidence to the ‘Bond Scam’ investigating Commissioners, MP Karunanayake went on to claim that he had no knowledge of the financial dealings pertaining to the rental of the penthouse that he and his family lived in.
The entire lease amounting close to 9 million was paid for by a company named Walter and Rowe which Arjun Aloysius and his father Geoff are both Directors. It is a fully owned subsidiary of the holding company of Perpetual treasuries. MP Karunanayake was the then Minister of Finance during the period that the Bond Scam scandal was executed.
However it is important to state that the resignation of the former Minister Karunanayake from all held ministerial portfolios are based on money laundering accusations and the conflict of interest surrounding his occupation of the penthouse that was rented and paid for by Arjun Aloysius’ company.
Meanwhile almost immediately after providing evidence at the Bond Scam investigation MP Karunanayake spoke to the media and told them that the owners of the penthouse were his relatives. However a few days later he went on to give a much more detailed version of the entire penthouse saga in in parliament during his speech last Thursday.
Why could he not provide all of this information to during the time he gave evidence to the Commissioners? What was he trying to achieve by saying he had no knowledge of the financial dealings to the rental of the penthouse?
The controversy of the penthouse saga commenced exactly over a year ago when it was first brought to MP Karunanayake’s attention by Joint Opposition MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage. It was on the 9th of June 2016 that during the initial ‘No Confidence’ motion debate against Karunanayake that MP Aluthgamage asked him as to who was paying the US $ 10,000 rental for the penthouse he was living in at that time. MP Karunanayake side stepping the question replied by saying “instead of bringing false allegations and assassinating my character, please prove it”. MP Aluthgamage then said “If you deny what I am saying is false then quickly get all the details pertaining to the rental of this apartment faxed to us right away. We have another hour and a half to go before this parliamentary session ends. There is plenty of time for you to do it”. (See the Hansard – Page 777 )
This clearly defines that MP Karunanayake was of the knowledge that there was controversy surrounding the penthouse he was occupying at that time where the rental for such was been paid by Arjun Aloysius, the Chairman of Perpetual Treasuries.
How come then he never pursued to seek more information on this topic especially as it was brought to his attention that there was a serious conflict of interest in this regard?
However a year on whilst still claiming his innocence MP Karunanayake went on to tell the Commissioners during the Bond Scam investigation that he was not aware that the rental for the penthouse he was living in was paid by Arjun Aloysius. He claimed he would have never lived there had he known.
See below the full question and answers of MP Ravi Karunanayake during the Bond Scam investigation:
Regarding the apartment, Karunanayake played complete ignorance. He said that he did not know how the apartment, which he currently lives in at the Monarch residency was paid for.
He said he never asked his wife nor his daughter as to who paid for it. He said that it was not “his business”.
Justice Prasanna Jayawardena said he was amazed that the family could live in a single house and the Minister being the Minster of Finance didn’t ask as to how the apartment was paid for.
Karunanayake first said that he came to know about the Aloysius’ connection with the apartment following Anika Wijesuriya‘s testimony. Later however he admitted that he knew about it since June 2016 when Mahindananda Aluthgamage brought the Penthouse up in parliament.
Grilling of Ravi by Dappula De Livera of the AG’s Department:
Q: Did your wife visit the premises before you rented it.
RK: I was told that she did
Q: She went there alone?
RK: I don’t know.
Q: Did she tell you that she met Arjun Aloysius in the premises
Q: She did not tell you that Mr Aloysius came in and discussed matters with Miss (Anika) Wijesuriya in the presence of your wife.
RK: No. All I know is that Miss Wijesuriya was the former girlfriend of Arjun Aloysius.
Q: Miss Wijesuriya said that when your wife visited, she called Mr Aloysius and he visited the place.
RK: I don’t know that. I am only privy to what my family has told me.
Q: Are you aware of the existence of the company Walt & Row?
Q: Do you know that Arjun Aloysius and his father are directors of this company?
RK: They are directors of many companies. That’s all I know. I do not know who is owning what.
Q: You did not know that this apartment was leased by Walt & Row from Miss Wijesuriya?
RK: No. I need not know.
However, the AG failed to ask Karunanayake as to what he did after the questioning in June. The Penthouse was brought by Karunanayake’s connected company much after July.
Justice Prasanna Jayawardena asked if it was rational to think that his daughters and wife did not know that there would be a conflict of interest by using the money of Aloysius who was already in the middle of the controversy following the Bond auction in 2015.
Karunanayake said his daughters and wife “don’t know politics”.
“You are a very close family isn’t it”, Commissioner Jayawardena asked Karunanayake. “Yes of course with God’s blessings, came the reply”. And the following ensued.
Justice Jayawardena: We know you are a family man.
RK: Yes I am and I thank God for that.
Justice Jayawardena: We are very happy that you are.
Justice Jayawardena: Now you were aware that your family was looking for an apartment? You said that you were aware of it and looking for a close by place because public citizens like you and me spending considerable amount of time in the traffic?
Justice Jayawardena: Now let’s look at the document of the apartment. It says there were two apartments amalgamated. It has 4000 square ft.
RK: I believe it can’t be 4000 square feet. It should be around 2000 square.ft
Justice Jayawardena: Did you ask from whom your family is renting the apartment?
RK: They told me that the owner of the house is Anika Wijesooriya. I was satisfied.
Justice Jayawardena: If you knew that this house was leased out by a man connected to areas under your purview, would you have not moved in to this apartment?
RK: I definitely wouldn’t have moved in if I knew that.
Justice Jayawardena: Are you telling us that for nine months, your family did not tell you that there was no lease agreement between your family company and Anika Wijesooriya?
RK: They told me the house was of Wijesooriya’s.
Justice Jayawardena: Your family knew there was no lease agreement signed with the owner of the house?
RK: I do not know that. But we reimbursed the money, to an ‘accountant’ of a company.
Justice Jayawardena: You said your family paid the rental to Walt and Rowes?
RK: I don’t know,they said it was to an accountant.
Justice Jayawardena: They had to know the lease agreement was with this company because it clearly says so in the agreement. Your wife and daughter are educated people so they must surely know there is a conflict of interest?
RK: No. They are not in the political arena so I don’t think they are aware.
Justice Jayawardena: So you are saying that they did not see anything wrong with their house rent being paid by a company which is connected to the stock market, the Primary market and the Excise Department?
RK: No. I didn’t know.
Justice Jayawardena: It is publicly known that Perpetual Treasuries Limited, Perpetual Capital Holdings and Walt and Rowes Associates are interconnected. So are you seriously telling us to believe you when you say you are unaware of these close associations which concern you?
RK: Yes. I was not.
Justice Jayawardena: So this entire agreement you were not aware of?
RK: No.My wife and three children are perfectly capable of running the company and this was purchased by the company. I did not know anything and completely absolve myself from having anything to do with it
Justice Jayawardena: From where did you get an odd Rs 10 million of money to pay for the apartment?
RK: My wife and daughter were responsible for it.
Justice Jayawardena: If such payments were done bank statements will be available?
RK: Not necessarily.
Justice Jayawardena: We are normal people we don’t carry 12 million rupees in cash. So I just want to know how this was done.
RK: It was done through my company.
Justice Jayawardena: I looked for these payments in GLT ledgers and other records but nowhere information relevant to these payments appear.
RK: The Chairman of the GLT told us to buy the house and he will pay for it.
Justice Jayawardena: We have heard from the evidence that Chairman Lakshmikanthan brought 70 million in cash to the GLT. Do you know from where this money came?
RK: No, I cannot say. All I know is that he is a leading financial analyst.
Justice Jayawardena: You should be aware of the money laundering and such, so it is important that this money should go on record.
RK:The money came from the Chairman. I had nothing to doubt.
Justice Jayawardena: Just because the money came from the Chairman, that does not mean the money is clean. Sakvithi was the Chairman of his company.
Justice Jayawardena: We have given you every opportunity to tell us what you want to say. What you are basically telling us is that “I knew nothing”.
RK: Yes, I knew nothing until the agreement was signed and until concerns were raised.
A short while later MP Karunanayake speaking to the media after giving evidence stated that Nahil Wijesuriya was his relative and that it is common knowledge.
Meanwhile whilst addressing parliament last Thursday and prior to tendering his resignation from all official Ministerial posts, MP Karunanayake went on to provide a more detailed version pertaining to developments that surrounded the controversy of his rental and ownership of the penthouse at Monarch Residencies.
He claimed that the owner of the Penthouse Anika Wijesuriya and his daughter were school mates. He also stated that Anika Wijesuriya was reluctant to rent her penthouse to a politician and it was decided by them to request a common friend of theirs Arjun Aloysius to rent the penthouse on their behalf. MP Karunanayake then went on to state that his daughter reimbursed the rental monies paid by Arjun Aloysius on their behalf. He then confirmed that a few months later his wife and daughter decided to purchase the penthouse from Anika Wijesuriya. For that he said his wife Mela and daughter Onella obtained a bank loan from Seylan Bank. (Jacqueline Senanayake).
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