PSD chief drops another bombshell
By Frederica Jansz
In a bizarre, but perhaps
predictable twist of events, former heavyweight of the Presidential
Security Division (PSD), SP Nihal Karunaratne when quizzed by sleuths
attached to the Criminal Investigations Department, has said that all
his former actions had been carried out on the orders of President
to absolve himself from all blame, follows hot on the heels of
Kumaratunga having accused Karunaratne of being a weapons agent for the
Willing to now spill the
beans on his former boss, Karunaratne is disgusted and angry at the
president's betrayal. Having risked his life many times to safeguard
hers, Karunaratne is of the opinion that he should have been treated
better, and does not deserve being publicly slated.
Not only has he implicated
the president in his confessions to police, but Karunaratne has also
named former Defence Secretary Chandrananda de Silva and Presidential
Secretary, Kusumsiri Balapatabendi, who he says manouvered many a
According to Karunaratne,
both de Silva's and Balapatabendi's sons are shipping goods to the north
for US$ 5 more than the price offered by his friend and confidant,
casino owner Dhammika Perera.
Dhammika Perera has offered US$ 35 per ton for the same purpose
as against the US$ 40 for each ton quoted by Balapatabendi and de Silva
through Mercantile Shipping. However, a permit for Perera has not been
granted. Instead it was given to the offspring of the politically
Karunaratne has charged that
the ships used by Mercantile Shipping for this purpose are over 20 years
old, which are against specified regulations. According to Sri Lankan
standards these ships are not seaworthy and cannot keep to a required
speed of 15 knots, he claims.
Karunaratne's statement was
recorded on May 6, in connection with his presence and that of other
members of the PSD at the scandalous election held to elect a president
to the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka in 1999.
The violent election has
video footage of Karunaratne being present together with other armed PSD
personnel during an ensuing fracas that broke out.
Karunaratne has told the cops
that his presence at the BCCSL that day was on the orders of President
Chandrika Kumaratunga who had ordered him and other members of the PSD
to give protection to her uncle, Clifford Ratwatte who was contesting
the election against former BCCSL President, Thilanga Sumathipala.
He asserts that his presence
at the BCCSL in 1999 was after the president had confided to him that
she was expecting trouble to erupt and appealed to Karunaratne to take
care of her uncle Clifford Ratwatte.
Clifford Ratwatte at the time
was resident at Temple Trees where the president too lived and worked
from. Defending his presence at the BCCSL that day, the cop now fallen
from grace, says he was only carrying out his duty. At the time "I
was tasked to provide security to the president and her immediate family
which included her son, daughter, uncle and aunt who lived at Temple
Trees," he states.
He has denied getting
involved in any of the fisticuffs that followed during the disgraceful
melee. Karunaratne has admitted that former PSD officer Baddegana
Sanjeewa and other PSD officers had also been present at the BCCSL
According to Karunaratne the
fight at the BCCSL erupted that day due to infighting within the SLFP/PA.
He claims that some in the SLFP/PA, including former Minister Reggie
Ranatunge and his son Arjuna were supportive of Thilanga Sumathipala
while others had supported the candidature of Clifford Ratwatte to be
president of the BCCSL.
During the row, Kamal
Ratwatte had desperately appealed to Karunaratne to get his father out
of the BCCSL as Clifford Ratwatte is a heart patient and he was afraid
his father would suffer a heart attack.
Contender for the hot seat at
the time, Thilanga Sumathipala said he is happy that finally an
investigation is being carried out in this regard. "I am glad
Interior Minister John Amaratunge has taken this initiative - as the
culprits must be brought to book."
Sumathipala added that on
this occasion SP Nihal Karunaratne had been physically present at the
BCCSL together with the DIG PSD, Victor Perera.
"They were both present at the BCCSL from 8.30 in the
morning that day manipulating the whole election," Sumathipala
He added that in the 53 years
of elections at the BCCSL this was the only time the government got
involved. "I have faced seven elections at the BCCSL and we never
had a problem.
This time there was trouble because Clifford Ratwatte was a
contender for the presidential post," Sumathipala said.
Meanwhile, disgusted with the
manner in which Kumaratunga has publicly slandered him, SP Nihal
Karunaratne has asserted that it is pure selfishness on the part of the
president and others that makes them such turncoats.
Kumaratunga's life by putting his own life in danger, Nihal Karunaratne
expected gratitude. Instead, the president has accused him of conspiring
with the Tamil Tigers together with Dhammika Perera.
Karunaratne's and Dhammika
Perera's friendship goes back to the time when Dhammika Perera wanted to
open 'Bally's Club' at Colpetty junction. Perera ran into opposition
when the then OIC for Colpetty, Earl Fernando refused permission. Henry
Attanayake who had been contracted to serve as manager of this club then
approached PSD Chief, Nihal Karunaratne.
The permission was received
in record quick time and 'Ballys' was open for business to foreigners
only. The club to date functions as an unauthorised structure as it
never sought and obtained the necessary approvals from the Colombo
Municipal Council though he got a court order staying the demolishing of
Earl Fernando in the meantime
also received stern orders to keep his mouth shut and shut-up - he did.
Dhammika Perera did not forget Nihal Karunaratne. Not only was he a
contender for the spoils the casino wrought but was a recipient of
Perera's unceasing gratitude and friendship.
Last week, Karunaratne made
two anticipatory bail applications. The first was made on Wednesday, May
8 and the second on May 9. The first application was in connection with
his involvement in the assault on The Sunday Leader Editor, Lasantha
Wickre- metunge and his wife Raine, in 1995. Bail was not refused but
his passport was impounded by the Gangodawila magistrates court.
The Criminal Investigations
Department demanded that Karunaratne report to the CID headquarters the
last week of every month.
Senior sleuths have arrested five suspects in connection with
this case so far. Two, were identified by Lasantha on April 29, this
The evidence so far has
implicated SP Nihal Karunaratne, who according to the confessions made
to police had allegedly organised and planned the assault together with
former media advisor and film star Sanath Goonetileke.
OIC, PSD, Ravi Peiris stood
surety for Karunaratne on this occasion. Karunaratne's second
application was made the following day on May 9, 2002. This time around
he sought bail for the 1999 case where press photographers were
assaulted at Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7.
The CID did not object to
bail being granted in this instance too. The cops however pointed out
that investigations so far have revealed that one of the stolen mobile
phones belonging to a journalist was subsequently recovered. The
detection led to the name of one Sanjeewa surfacing and it transpired
that this man had worked as a labourer for Karunaratne.
Fuelling CBK's bank balance
by Frederica Jansz
Kuma-ratunga is landlady of a petrol shed she pressurised the Ceylon
Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to allow on land owned by her at Nambadaluwa,
Attanagalla and will shortly own the shed, obtained through power
The 'deal' was pushed through
in record speed-time in a matter of only five days from when the CPC
received a request from a private company to set up and be dealers for a
Lanka filling station at Horagollawatta situated at Nambadaluwa village,
That the land in question
belonged to the president proved to be a cakewalk for the private firm
who as a result of paying Kumaratunga a rental were allowed to bypass
all norms and procedures usually adopted by the CPC in such
monthly rental to Kumaratunga is only Rs. 5,000. The binding lease
agreement however will doubtless reap dividends for the president who
will be the owner of all the buildings, structures, fittings and
fixtures at this petrol shed even after the lease is terminated or
In reality, the petrol shed
is for Kumaratunga and the lease given to close associates is just to
get over the preliminary hurdle of the president having a contract with
a state agency.
In fact, in an attempt to
show how poor she was, she had even told her former PSD Chief Nihal
Karanaratne at one point, she did not have enough money to complete the
Kumaratunga apart from
leasing the land for the explicit purpose of a petrol shed being built
and operated is the stakeholder in the project.
Her agreement with the private firm clearly states that she and
"her agents, engineers, workers and other persons" should be
permitted at all reasonable times including during construction of the
petrol shed to view and examine the state of the project.
The private firm, once the
lease agreement with the president is either terminated or expires, will
not be entitled to claim compensation of any kind for any of the
buildings, structures, fixtures or fittings that have been erected at
this site for the purpose of operating a petrol shed. This is despite
the company having to initially erect such building etc., at their own
The company during the time
of the lease agreement will pay all rates, taxes, assessment property
taxes and any other outgoing taxes in respect of the premises at
Ironically, the lease is
valid only upto two years commencing December 1, 2000 and ending
November 30, 2002. And the petrol shed is not even ope-rational yet.
Thus, by the time it becomes
operational, the lease would have ended and president in terms of the
agreement auto-matically becomes the owner of the petrol shed.
Neat trick surely.
In this context, it is also
damning that the lease agreement is signed by Kumaratunga on November
24, 2000 permitting the operation only of a petrol shed when the
application for the dealer outlet is made by Hi-tech Carbons (Pvt)
Limited only on De-cember 13, 2000.
Therefore it is obvious,
granting of the petrol shed licence was pre-arranged before the signing
of the lease though the application itself was only after the lease
agreement was entered into by Ku-maratunga.
The company will also insure
according to the lease and will be kept insured against loss or damages
as well as pay insurance premiums for all the buildings on the said
premises which the company have no right to claim even after the
termination or expiry of the said lease.
Having leased out the land to
Hi-Tech Carbons (Private) Limited on November 24, 2000, Kumaratunga
arbitrarily gave permission to the private company which is situated at
75/1, 3rd Floor, Hemas Building, York Street, Colombo 1 - to construct a
petrol shed on this lot of land for which she is also paid a monthly
Podimanike Liyanage and Sujatha Jayanthi Wickremarat-chchi, both close
associates of the president have signed on behalf of Hi-Tech Carbons (Pvt)
Ltd. the lease agreement with Kumaratunga.
Attorney Anil Tittawela, a
relative of the president who was also a director of Hi-tech Carbons had
subsequently resigned on August 2, 2001.
That former Chairman for the
CPC, Anil Obeysekera was a mere stooge of the People's Alliance (PA)
government is clearly displayed in this instance. Kumaratunga in writing
leased the said land to Hi-Tech Carbons before attorneys-at-law and
notaries public, Murugesu and Neelakandan on November 24, 2000.
The lease agreement specifies
that the rent must be paid in Colombo to President Kumaratunga without
any deductions on the due dates. A second, binding clause adds that the
said premises must be used to carry on a petrol shed only, and not to
assign or sub lease or part with the same or any part thereof.
M. P. Liyanage, Director for
Hi-Tech Carbons (Pvt) Ltd., only two weeks after he signed this
agreement with the president wrote to Obeysekera, informing him that the
company was interested in setting up a dealer owned outlet at
He requested for officers from the CPC to visit and recommend the
site to set up this outlet.
His request was cursory considering the fact that he already had
presidential approval to begin setting up the petrol shed.
After all, the property had
by this time been already leased out for the said purpose.
Five days later, on December
18, 2000, a board paper was submitted at a CPC board meeting of its
directors and chairman.
The paper specified that the subject issue was the establishment
of a dealer owned Lanka filling station at Nambadaluwa, Attanagalla.
The paper proposed that
Hi-Tech Carbons (Pvt) Ltd. be appointed as the dealer for the filling
station at Nambadaluwa, Attanagalla.
The paper stated that the
company had already obtained necessary clearance (from whom it does not
say), that the land offered had road frontage of more than 200 feet and
is ideal for a filling station. The paper also reiterated that the
applicant is financially sound and capable of operating a dealership.
The board paper was submitted by the marketing manager of CPC.
The paper received unanimous
recommendation from the CPC board members who agreed that Hi-Tech Carbon
should be given the dealership. The board minutes on this day record
that CPC granted Hi-Tech Carbon the authority under section 5E of the
CPC Act No. 28 of 1961 as amended by the CPC Act No. 5 of 1963 to sell
supply and distribute Lanka Two Star Petrol, Lanka Auto Diesel, Lanka
Kerosene and lubricants. The permission was granted on the condition
that the company would begin consumer sales after they had completed the
infrastructure and the installation of equipment at their own cost.
The CPC however stated that
discounts must be extended to dealer owned category dealers.
The next day, on December 19,
2000, the board discussed the issues raised in the board paper the
previous day by the CPC marketing manager and re-affirmed their decision
to allow Hi-Tech Carbons (Pvt) Ltd., a dealer owned Lanka filling
station at Nambadaluwa, Attanagalla.
Working at record speed, the
hierarchy at the CPC were in fast mode. Twenty four hours after the
board decision was re-affirmed, a day later, on December 20, 2000, the
marketing manager CPC, wrote to Hi-Tech Carbons (Pvt) Limited.
The letter sent by registered
post to the private company stated that CPC was pleased to inform them
that the board of directors of the state owned corporation had con-sidered
their appli-cation and had re-solved to grant them the authority to set
up a dealer owned cate-gory Lanka filling station at Nambada-luwa,
The company was told to
contact the Area Manager (West/North) of the CPC at Kolon-nawa for
normally required to set up such a filling station was detailed in the
letter. The approval certainly created history. Not only had the
president already given the company the necessary approval on November
24, 2000, stating specifically in her lease agreement that the land must
be used to set up a petrol shed only, she had also ordered Obeysekera to
follow suit and treat the matter with the utmost urgency. An order,
Obeysekera complied with pronto - together with
the other board directors at the CPC.
What justification there was
for this petrol shed being approved is a question that even the present
chairman of the CPC is unable to answer. The sole determining factor
apparently is that the directors of Hi-Tech Carbon (Pvt) Ltd., share a
very special friendship with President Kumaratunga.
Daham Wimalasena, the new
chairman of the CPC admitted that approval for this filling station had
been secured "extraordinarily fast. The company concerned,
obviously got very special attention," he noted.
Wimalasena however asserted
that there is nothing he can do now to stop the filling station from
operating. "This company has invested in the CPC and we cannot now
terminate this approval," he said.
Needless to say that the
approval was granted in a matter of five days due to presidential
pressure and that the president too is a stakeholder in this petrol shed
has only served to further violate and ridicule the norms by which the
CPC is governed.
Can a head of state
be legally doing business with a state agency alone is the question the
CID will have to now probe.