Colombo Telegraph

Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s Axe Against Hemasiri Linked To Deal For Avant Garde

Colombo Telegraph can reveal that former Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe‘s reasons for making police complaints against former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Hemasiri Fernando who is an ex naval officer is linked to a lucrative contract he was pushing the Defence Ministry to give the highly controversial private security firm Avant Garde which is run by Rajapakshe’s bosom friend Major (Rtd) Nissanka Senadhipathi.

Rajapakshe who has been a strong backer of Senadhipathi and his Avant Garde even as the security firm that ran floating armouries by illegally leasing weapons from the Sri Lankan military while Gotabaya Rajapaksa ran security affairs was trying to get new licences for the company a few months ago Colombo Telegraph learns. This is even as Senadhipathi remains on bail for defrauding hundreds of millions of rupees of funds from the state and Avant Garde has multiple cases and investigations ongoing about their activities using state resources and funds under the auspices of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Nissanka Senadhipathy and his Avant Garde still owes Rs 2.8 billion in dues to the Sri Lankan Government which is yet to be paid for profits earned through its Floating Armoury business.

Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe who is currently a major Sirisena loyalist took Senadhipathy’s request to President Maithripala Sirisena it is learnt. Former Minister S.B. Dissanayake was also involved in the negotiation Colombo Telegraph learns.

President Sirisena summoned a meeting of security officials and asked the Defence Ministry to consider giving licences to Avant Garde to resume operations. However senior Navy officials who were present at the meeting strongly opposed the President’s proposal saying the Avant Garde was still owing them hundreds of millions in unpaid dues. All three forces personnel opposed the move Colombo Telegraph can reveal and even the Chief of Defence Staff was not in favour of the proposal.

This had caused the President to back down from the plan sources said but he insisted on a committee being set up to study the matter. However it is learned that through Rajapakshe and Dissanayake, Nissanka Senadhipathi tried to sneak in two of his “preferred” officials into the committee. Senadhipathi has several military officials on his payroll Colombo Telegraph learns.

However former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando had strongly opposed the effort to allow Senadhipathy’s “representatives’ into the committee.

The licences were never approved. Rajapakshe and Dissanayake are hoping that a new Defence Secretary will pave the way for these approvals to be granted and for Senadhipathy to continue to do business at the Government’s expense again.

Rajapakshe has always been a strong backer of Avant Garde and his friend Nissanka Senadhipathi even making statements defending them in Parliament in 2016. Photos later emerged of the Senadhipathi and Rajapakshe families taking holidays together in Disneyland.

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