Sajin De Vass Gunawardena the former Monitoring MP of the External Affairs Ministry of the Rajapaksa regime, paid a tip of Rs 62,000 (US $ 450) of public funds, at a restaurant he wined and dined on one of his official trips to New York on the 20th of September 2014, Foreign Ministry officials told Colombo Telegraph.
This mind boggling figure for a mere a restaurant tip is equivalent to the monthly salary that Victor Ivan claimed as a “poorly paid” editor of the Ravaya, in his venomous article full of inaccuracies published recently.
“All this lavish spending was claimed by Vass Gunawardena under the budget line used as the Monitoring MP’s miscellaneous expenditure,” confirmed an official of the Foreign Ministry.
If that revelation was startling, then a closer look at the bills will show that Sajin De Vass Gunawardena also paid Rs 27,000 (US $ 195) for a single shot of an expensive Brandy too. This particular brand of very expensive Cognac is known as Remy Martin Louis X111. The cognac is manufactured using wine grapes from the Grande Champagne territory of Cognac, France where it is aged in oak barrels, and is over 100 years old. It was probably so good he then had decided to fork out another Rs 27,000 for an extra shot.
What had Foreign Ministry officials up in the air is the fact that Vass Gunawardena had also polished four bottles of expensive wine which in Rupees is embarrassing to mention. But for the record the figure was approximately Rs 130,000. The break down was two bottles of the extravagant French brand Didier Dagueneau, wine from the Loire Valley made of Sauvignon blanc grapes from the Pouilly Fumé region for Rs 30,000 or US $ 220 each . The other two bottles were the Italian wine named Ciacci Reserva priced at Rs. 34,000 each or US $ 246.
At the famous BLT Steak House in Washington another four bottles of the expensive Italian Banfi Brunello Di Montelac wines were consumed for the staggering price of Rs 85,000 or US $ 616. However with the bill for this restaurant totaling Rs 430,000 or US $ 3120, Vass Gunawardena has nevertheless claimed US $ 3500. It is not confirmed though if the difference of US $ 380 or Rs 53,000 was also given as a tip at this restaurant.
The bills are attached for the benefit of readers to see how the country’s public funds were wined and dined away by Vass Gunawardena at Mortons and BLT the famous steak houses in the United States of America.
A person who incidentally knows both Vass Gunawardena and Ivan said that there is no major difference between the two.
Whilst the now remanded Vass Gunawardena was a known fraudster before he became an MP, Victor Ivan was a known marijuana and hashish dealer who ran a small eatery that catered to the local public and tourist hippies down south in the early 80’s. Coincidentally both Vass Gunawardena and Ivan hail from the same area on the southern coastline.
Multiple sources including a Professor, who are well known to both Ivan and the late leader of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party Dr. Colvin R. De Silva, confirmed yesterday that Victor Ivan was kicked out from the Lanka Sama Samaja Party when it was discovered that he was involved in he illicit business of selling and distributing Hashish and Marijuana in the 80’s prior to heroin entering the market.
“Ivan used members of the party, including those who were inspectors of the Ceylon Transport Board, to carry parcels for him that contained these drugs from Colombo to his eatery. When we found out about his illegal trade the party took a policy decision to to kick him out of our political party, but comrade Bernard Soysa insisted that we should not go public. Just as he had ‘saved’ Anura Bastians who was involved in illicit tradings in Narahenpita. Even after Bastians joined the UNP, he had helped Soysa financially in every elections.
Bankrupt Ivan later went begging to Sarvodaya Chairman Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne for a job. Ariyaratne gave him a job and also asked him to edit the Ravaya with a group of others. Despite being granted employment Ivan still went on to complain that the Sarvodaya Chairman was raking in Rs 50,000 as a salary whilst he was paid a measly sum of Rs 5,000, and then he broke away with a few of the group and established another non profit venture called Ravaya Publishers (Guarantee) limited, a highly placed source who knows Ivan well told Colombo Telegraph. When Colombo Telegraph contacted Ivan today to ask about these allegations, he said “you can write anything” and disconnected the 47 second call.
The founding editor of the Sinhala weekly newspaper ‘Rāvaya‘ and the chairman of the Ravaya Publishers (Guarantee) limited ‘ Victor Ivan has pocketed Rs 5 Million out of a total Rs 12.7 million that had been collected to ‘keep Rāvaya afloat’. Responding to a query from Colombo Telegraph on June 18th, Ivan acknowledged that he had in fact taken Rs 5 Million, but clarified that this was payment for the sale of his 20% stake in the newspaper.”
When contacted by Colombo Telegraph, its News Editor Lasantha Ruhunage said he was not aware of any such transaction.
Ravaya, which has been a strong advocate of accountability and transparency, never disclosed in its appeal to supporters that Rs 5 Million of the funds collected would be given to any individual.
Contradicting Victor Ivan’s claim about Ravaya employees’ share value, a founder director and the former deputy editor Upali Colombage said he was given only Rs. 1000 for his total of 100 shares (Rs 10 per share), when he was asked how much he was paid for his shares.
However, Rāvaya being a Company limited by guarantee and operating as a not-for-profit organization, much like an NGO, does not and cannot have provision for Ivan or anyone else to claim monies that have been collected for a fund of this kind. The Fraud Bureau has yesterday launched an investigation against abusing of the funds collected from public.
Last week Victor Ivan wrote a venemous article in his Ravaya newspaper to cover his Rs 5 million fraud and gain the sympathy of his readers. In it he claimed to be a “poorly paid” editor. “The truth of the matter is that there is no comparison to his claim, as all other editors of weekly or weekend newspapers have come up the ranks, where they even joined as cub reporters at the inception and have received multiple training over the years. Also the responsibility of these editors far outweigh Ivan, as their newspapers have much more pages and a larger circulation, compared to Ivan’s Ravaya weekly newspaper that has a volume of less than 5000 newspapers. Sadly, there is absolutely no justification to Ivan’s logic here” said a retired editor who claimed anonymity after he had read Ivan’s venemous article. He said he did not want to get abusive emails and a defamatory attack from Victor Ivan.
“All those greedy for money share very similar mental traits and mindsets and there is hardly any difference between these two individuals” said a Professor of Psychiatry on condition of anonymity as she did not wish to receive threatening emails and defamatory claims form Ivan.
When asked for a comment about greediness Prof Carlo Fonseka said he could do no better than repeat the old saying of Horace; ‘Money by right means if you can, if not, by any means, money.’
Marjvana kankanamge Podi Athula / July 10, 2015
Long over due story about Chura Ivan. We all know this story. Good investigation CT. I also read his venomous article. He deserves this.
Jema / July 10, 2015
I know one incident, Borella Bonsu gave a parcel to Jamis Kariyawasam to hand over to Podi Athula. Jemis opened in and found Hashish. That is how the party discovered this drug kingpin.
Derby / July 10, 2015
This is really incorrect to say that Sajin gave the tip of his own choice. In the U.S.A. for groups of 6 or more, all restaurants add a mandatory gratuity. In this case, it appears the minimum mandatory gratuity is 18% = $475.00
Sajin would have had to claim, extremely bad service at this restaurant to not pay the gratuity. Obviously, it would have then become a most embarrassing situation for him.
This is similar to 10% mandatory service charge that is applied to all hotel services in Sri Lanka!
Whoever wrote this article has never visited the U.S.A. You have to do your research before accusing someone of wrong doing!
BBgun / July 10, 2015
minimum tip (or gratuity of 18%) is already included in the $3120.00 bill. he gave a further $380 tip to “round off” the bill to $3500.total tip is about $850 on a bill of $2650, over 30% tip. Which is way excessive unless this is a different sort of “entertainment venue”.
please read properly before criticizing authors unnecessarily, and making assumptions about the author’s travel history.
I agree that the pricing is reasonable since its DC. it would be an utterly reasonable bill if it was indeed a business (work) gathering of diplomats etc and if he paid additional tips out of pocket. but we all know neither of those statements are correct.
Derby / July 11, 2015
We do not know who Sajin’s guests were. I am assuming some of them were part of the entourage from Sri Lanka and others from the SL diplomatic mission and other relevant persons. I hightly doubt Sajin has that many friends and family in DC to entertain them privately.
It is customary to add an additional tip to such a bill over the mandatory 18%, if the service was exceptional. This was a big group and I can assume the wait staff were buzzing overhead providing service. With the additional tip it comes to 27% tip which I admit is a little too high. That being said, it is not unusual for politicians to tip at a high rate.
Anyways, the tip itself is not a huge deal. What the writer needs to find out is, who was Sajin entertaining. If it was friends and family then the whole bill comes in to question. Personally, I think this is very petty to question the tip. The tip goes to someone who is making either minimum wage. Plus 27% is not a huge deal over here in the U.S.A.
paul / July 11, 2015
Multiplying foreign currency invoices at a ridiculous exchange rates and quoting tens of thousand of rupees has become a favourite pastime of Ranil/My3 led misinformation campaign. If by any chance these politicos go to a western capital city and park their vehicle for a couple of hours and pay close to $100 as parking fees, the hell will break out with headlines like ” Sajin pays Rs 12,500 to parking fees”. These are the idiots of yahapalanaya. If you manage the economy instead and bring exchange rate to Re 1= $1, this problem will be solved.
maalumiris / July 12, 2015
It’s an easy way to inflame the passions of CT commentators.. as proven by the oh-so-shocked and scandalized responses to this article. No one can bother to check the exchange rate, nor bother to check whether these prices on the bill are as sky-high as we are led to believe
Well, I guess it’s easy to figure out how easy it is for politicians to fool us if we can be so easily led by a “scandalous” article !!
Maybe our collective IQ really IS 79 or lower !!!
Huna / July 14, 2015
If I’m not mistaken, President Obama once took Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to a burger joint for lunch worth just few bucks . Someone can probably say that it was for a publicity stunt… I’m only saying that if they (Sachin and MR and Ranil etc. etc. etc.) really want, they can do it for a lesser price.
Whatever it was, for a country like Sri Lanka with a GDP of USD 50 Billion + 20 m people + 10 B loans can’t afford to have 4,000K lunches for anyone, not even for business matters.
maalumiris / July 10, 2015
You are correct. As restaurants go, this is not particularly expensive for the US.
Even a cursory search on the internet will show that quite clearly. But I guess to sell an article, the reporter has to flavour it with some kind of Victorian sensibility !
Whats most odd is that in Sri Lanka, one of the most alcoholic countries in the World, it’s as if none of the commentators would ever contemplate taking a shot of Napoleon if given the chance ! Especially if someone else was footing the bill !
By the way, the bill is high in LKR terms because Yahapalanaya has been responsible for the appalling weakness of our currency and economy.
SL / July 12, 2015
Is that all you have to say about this?What about $970 in wine and $370 in Liquor? this is public funds!!
Would you spend over $1000.00 in booze?
this is why raja has to go for good!!!
Derby / July 10, 2015
The writer also does not have an understanding that in American restaurants, wine is 30 times the price of a bottle of wine that is purchased from a liquor store.
This includes price for all liquor. Every restaurant makes their profits on Alcohol and not food. The number of clients are double digits. I cannot make out the exact number. In my opinion this is a reasonable bill for dining out at an upscale restaurant.
Maybe, Sajin would have been better off taking his entourage to Mcdonalds or a Green Mill Pizza for entertainment.
paul / July 11, 2015
Or buy a couple of loaves of bread, a can of sardines and a bottle of cheap wine from a nearby store – as My3 would have done it. Remember it cot only Rs 6,500 for his inauguration.
Sindhuri Nandhakumar / July 10, 2015
I don’t think the tip is what’s at issue here. In the US, it is customary to pay a gratuity of 18%, and if there is a dining party with more than 8 people (and in this case, the top of the first bill indicates there were 19 guests) it is usually automatically added to the bill. There’s no reason why a hardworking server shouldn’t get her or his tips, especially after taking care of so many guests with so many drink and food orders. The tip is merely a symptom of the extravagance of the public official with what is most certainly public money. An average dining cost of $164 per person is quite outrageous.
JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA / July 10, 2015
Mahendran Percivel Jarapassa Is Educated enough to Appoint monitoring MPs to his ministerial clan with [Honest] Thieves and Drunkards Like Those Vasses.
Because He is an another One of Those [Honest] Thieves and Drunkards Like.
When Talking about VICTOR IVAN, He is Another Marxist from the southern coastline.
Not Actually Coincidentally,
but Mahendran Percivel Jarapassa and his other thieves clan,
Vass Gunawardena and Viktor Ivan hail from the same area on the southern coastline.
Gunasekere DJ / July 10, 2015
This Ivan wrote Chandrika a Prostitute and earned Rs. 10,000.000. Mahida Rajapaksa distributed the book. Now he was a drug dealer. OMG!
Anlil A / July 10, 2015
CT your article is not completed. Actually Bernard Soysa asked Podi Athula to stop drug dealing, that is why he became bankrupt.
Peace Lover / July 10, 2015
Wow that man has got epicurean taste indeed!
While in Colombo poor K A Sumanasekera only has single malt for his shots!
justice / July 10, 2015
Such a ‘tip’ at a restaurant while some citizens make do with one meal a day is immoral.
That too with peoples’ money.
This man now in remand, deserves a jail sentence.
Ranjan / July 10, 2015
Sajin Vass could do all this since some Foreign Ministry officials willingly kowtowed to him for personal gain.Among them were Majintha Jayasinge who accompanied the crook in all his trips abroad.He was rewarded for all this by the new government and was sent Malaysia.
Then there is Shenuka Seneviratne who as Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved all such payments.she has been rewarded for all this by been made Ambassador to Thailand by the new government.
Finally there is Maheshini Colonne who as confidante of Sajin carried tales to him about her own colleagues.Colonne did all Sajins letters including those of Cosmos Aviation pvt ltd.For all her effort the new government has made her a Spokeswoman.She is now slowly maneuvering to be Ambassador to Geneva although she is now just a middle level official,BY COURTESY of the new government., while more capable officials are sidelined.
Actually nothing has changed since 8 January.
Whom to tell aney.
Jim softy / July 10, 2015
They have eaten Maccaroni and Cheese each $ 10.
saternina / July 10, 2015
Who is Sajin Vas? Where did he get his education? Has he been living in Srilanka as a young man or like many exiled and living abroad come over to Srilanka to take over as fund keepers a,d front up names and faces for corrupt politicians. What a mess. To enjoy exclusive entertainment do they know the difference from toddy to the best wine and brandy?
Thanga / July 10, 2015
Like the king so the citizen! Rajapaksa set a horrible example when he spent millions Rupees/dollars on wining and dining on his jumbo trips to foreign countries. Even his local entertainment was at public expense. Every day he threw lunches and dinners to big wigs and state functionaries. To water the flower plants at Temple Trees he spent Rs.90, 000 a month. Where ever he and his entourage went he stayed in expensive hotels, the one occupied by him is the same hotel where the US President occupied. And the air force provided him and his family taxi service at state expense. Sajin de Vaas Gunewardane was lording over Foreign Minister G.L.Peiris and treated him like a dummy. A spineless Foreign Minister stomached all the insults heaped on him! At Geneva he was seen seated behind Minister Samarasinghe the special envoy looking pathetic and crest fallen.
Thumpane Gamaya / July 10, 2015
in two words, real pariah…
K.A Sumanasekera / July 10, 2015
Saji Vass wouldn’t know French Wine from Sarsaparilla..
Who would pay 200 to 300 Dollars for Italian plonk.
Sajin would have been pissed as a fart, while his mates ordered the drinks .
Nay be Sajin was entertaining Yanks in high places.
Regardless it is a bit over the top to pay USD 1400 for the booze when the food bill was only USD 700..
Definitely no nominations for Sajin although he is from my home town..
Derby / July 11, 2015
@ K.A. Sumanasekera
You definitely do not live in the U.S.A! Alcohol bill is always 10 times over the food bill. Restaurants in the U.S.A do not make their money on food, they make their money on alcohol. The same bottle of wine purchased at a liquor store may cost you 10 times less. Unfortunately, one cannot bring their own alcohol or even a soft drink to a restaurant over here. One has to purchase all food and drinks from the dining restaurant.
This is a perfectly reasonable bill for Washington D.C. where all the high fliers are.
What you need to question is who he was entertaining.
K.A Sumanasekera / July 11, 2015
You are right…
It all depends on whom he took to dinner as you say.
Diaspora has Ramsay Clerk in their Eellam Senate .
So Sajin has to find a Yank to match him.
The array of Wine & Spirits indicate that whoever went with him are not Baiyas from Srilanka.
Because they can’t handle anything other than Johnny Red
But the problem is our Combo Elite do not like Baiyas spending Govt money.
That is why Sajin got in to trouble here.
Plus he was accused of bashing our HC in London while he was in NYC, although the HC is supposed to be on the Baiya side.
The story is that HC was drunk as a skunk when Sajin flattened him.
May be all that high prized booze was in HC’s guts..
BTW I am surprised that there were no Jack Daniel Single Barrel or good Rye Whisky in the docket..
Native Vedda / July 11, 2015
KASmaalam K.A Sumanasekera
“Diaspora has Ramsay Clerk in their Eellam Senate . So Sajin has to find a Yank to match him.”
Why do you need Yankee when you have all weather friends China, Pakistan, ………..?
Aia / July 10, 2015
Who is responsible for monitor the monitoring MP’s expenditure. That GLP, he was shivering inside out the moment he saw this baby elephant because he knew he has more leverage with MR than him. So the cool US$450 had to be poked out by the poor folks. If MR able to con his way in to parliament, those who leaked these invoices are in trouble, are they?.
When you consume this much stuffs, what would you expect in the ball room, particularly if Dr Noni approaches Shenuka, would Sajiin expect to allow? Our foreign mission, only missing link then was DJ.
wanni / July 10, 2015
[Edited out] We are sorry, the comment language is English – CT
Meesha / July 10, 2015
Is this article about Sajin De Vass Gunawardena or Victor Ivan?
JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA / July 10, 2015
This article is exclusively about Obama and Putin
Prasad Liyanage / July 10, 2015
When you read all these articles, one wonders what types of scum are sent to the hallowed Parliament who swindle the country, masses and its money, the poor go hungry without 3 squared meals whilst this fat slob Sagin lootes the poor Sri Lankans. These are enough stories to elimate all these scum from Parliament and send honest, decent men and women to Parliament. Its time all these crooks, Jarapassas, Uruwansas, and the plunders are sent to the gas chambers including their families who have been living on ill gotten gains.
Do not wait for these crooks to be born again as dogs and crows they must be eliminated from the face of this earth right now and not later, the days are numbered and nearing their doom.
Dilip / July 10, 2015
Please do add up his visit to Sydney when the infamous Bandula Jayasekara entertained him with state money.
vishvajith / July 10, 2015
One HUGE Booze Party in DC paid for in CASH. A customary ” keep the balance has occurred here “, around 20pct of the tab. The Tip paid is fair.
Question, who paid for it ? Sajin ? Why pay in cash ? Black money turning to white, when claimed thru expenses ?
Fishier, than the 01st. A manual value has been inserted for $ 3500 when the total bill ( tip/gratuity included was $ 3120.22 . A little ” santhosam ” to the payer, through an expense claim, seem to be in order.
Where are the auditors ?
Then our Srilanka, no ? People be damned, rulers must party, no ?
manel fonseka / July 10, 2015
Can CT or anyone else tell me if Anura Bastian is still alive?
paul / July 13, 2015
Yes he is. See article
R K Raghavan / July 11, 2015
My favourite selection would have been couple of Hennesy HD and one whole plate Whale. I am sad I missed this dinner table.
I hope I will get an opportunity one day to have this. I am working towards this.
Native Vedda / July 11, 2015
R K Raghavan
“I am working towards this.”
Hence the employer is MR, hoping that he would one day reward you this for carrying his b***s 24/7/52.
For you it is not a bad deal.
R K Raghavan / July 12, 2015
You are real raw meet eating vedda.
You cannot understand the very serious issues I am raising.
Have you tasted a whole plate of Whale. Wow! my stomach is urging for one even now.
Let us work together to get a life time taste of it.
Join my mission. Together, we can achieve a lot.
Don’t miss the opportunity.
Native Vedda / July 13, 2015
R K Raghavan
“Join my mission. Together, we can achieve a lot.”
Sure, I get experience and you get wealth.
Ahfzll / July 11, 2015
Well, Well, Well ……
Isn’t the Vass supposedly in remand custody?
What is he doing in this photograph then? [Edited out]
Justicia / July 11, 2015
If Sajin has collected this money from the Min. External Affairs, then he should have attached list of who his guests were. That is a requirement/practice when one claims from entertainment allowance. Has he provided such a list? And also has he claimed a tip paid even without paying it after since a Sevice Charge is added. True that restaurants charge a higher price for their drinks not only in the U.S. but also in SL. But who’s money was he lavishly spending? It’s poor tax-payers money. If it’s out of his personal money, then there is no need for this article.
Justicia / July 11, 2015
Looking closely at the second bill the sales tax is exempted with the code number. Since embassies are exempt from local taxes (under Vienna Convention) it looks he has claimed such. Then this becomes an official business. Then it is that he claimed this expenditure from the Min. EA. As I said earlier he should have informed the Ministry who his guests were.
maama / July 22, 2015
First bill of $2049 is for 11 guests
Second bill of $3120 is for 19 guests