blown on ghost compnay that did the MiG
House - the building that houses
Westbury at 145-157 St. John's
deal not a registered public contract
non-existent in the UK
office given in contract is a
mail and call forwarding address
shore co. set up by "Companies
Made Simple Limited"
word MiG must by now surely taste sour in
the mouths of most Sri Lankans. That our
air force has acquired some of the same
MiG-27 aircraft in late 2006 that it
rejected for purchase in 2000, and paid
much more for them is a given fact.
Sunday Leader reported on July 15 that the
UK company which was paid nearly US$ 15
million by the Sri Lankan government in
2006 for four MiG-27 aircraft was
"not registered with the British
Ministry of Defence."
the latest twist of events it turns out
that this statement was an understatement
of the shocking reality. It was based on
our assumption that such a company,
Bellimissa Holdings Limited, actually
existed in any legal form within the
United Kingdom. This apparently is not the
fact The Sunday Leader learns that the
contract for the procurement of these
aircraft was not registered with the
Registrar of Public Contracts, as is
required by law. According to the Public
Contracts Act of 1987 any party
contracting for the supply of equipment of
services to the Government of Sri Lanka
must register with the Registrar of Public
the time of registration such suppliers
are required by law to declare their legal
name and address, nationality, whether
they are a public or private company,
registration number, and most importantly,
the full name, address, nationality, any
previous nationality and percentage of
shares held in respect of every single
director and shareholder of the company,
as required in Forms PC-1 and PC-A10 of
the Registry where the value of the
contract exceeds Rs. 5 million.
Holdings Limited is defined as a
"Designated Party" in the air
force procurement contract. The company
name makes it clear that Bellimissa is
purportedly a 'limited liability company'
or LLC, and any such company incorporated
in the UK has to be registered by law with
Companies House, a British government
in the UK
presented on this page makes it perfectly
clear that there is not, and there has
never been, any company by the name of
Bellimissa incorporated in the UK, ever.
In fact such is the subterfuge that
nowhere is it explicitly stated that
Bellimissa is a UK company, but it is
implied by the provision of a London
address for the company.
air force contract (SLAF/2006/7/AIR) for
the MiG-27 aircraft (Order No. J45001)
identifies and details three parties bound
by it. One is the Commander of the Sri
Lanka Air Force (the buyer), whose address
is given as P.O. Box 594, Colombo, Sri
Lanka. The seller, the Ukranian company
UKRINMASH is identified by an address
ending with "Kiev, 04119
Ukraine." Enter Bellimissa, the
"Designated Party," whose
address is given as one in London, with no
specific mention of the United Kingdom.
that there is no such company in the UK,
The Sunday Leader ventured to discover who
was paid 15 million dollars of Sri Lanka's
toiling taxpayers' money for these ancient
aircraft. As it turns out, the address
given in the air force contract - 2nd
Floor, 145-157 St. John's Street, London
EC1V 4PY (pictured) is home to an
inter-related group of five companies, all
part of a 'group' in the name and style of
these are all limited liability companies,
the amount of money they have in their
bank accounts is in the public domain. One
of these companies is exempt from filing
accounts. Three of them together hold in
their respective bank accounts a 'grand'
total of under Rs. 2,000. (Be assured
there are no missing zeroes.)
total 'cash in bank' as at December 2006
for Westco Nominees Limited, Westco
Directors Limited and Companiesmadesimple
Limited was eight (8) sterling pounds. The
last company on the 2nd Floor, Westbury
Business Services Limited had 21,362
pounds in its account at the end of the
2006 financial year.
from these figures, these companies are
not involved in large scale defence
procurements. But they are the only
companies registered at the address to
which the Government of Sri Lanka claims
to have paid almost Rs. 1.5 billion;
therefore the nature of their business is
of public interest.
Westbury Group consists primarily of
"chartered accountants and business
advisors," and they "specialise"
in "company formation" according
to their promotional material. The company
offers a mail forwarding service which
they describe as follows: "We have a
choice of two prestigious UK mail
forwarding addresses including London W1
and London EC1; the EC1 address is in the
heart of the capital's financial
formation and mail forwarding are provided
by the Westbury subsidiary, Companies Made
Simple, under UK company number 015104525.
On their website (www.companiesmadesimple.com)
they claim to provide quick, simple and
affordable company formation services,
including the formation of offshore
Sunday Leader made a telephone call to
their call centre through which we
verified not only that a company named
Bellimissa Holdings is a customer of
Westbury, but also that the company
representative from the contract, one M.
I. Kuldyrkaev is known by name to the call
centre and that they are able to accept
messages on his behalf (see box for
Companies Made Simple branch has therefore
incorporated Bellimissa Holdings Limited
in an offshore jurisdiction other than the
United Kingdom, beyond the reach of both
Sri Lanka's and Britain's Inland Revenue
authorities and Bribery Commissions, and
acts as the front address and call centre
for the offshore company.
arrangement Bellimissa may have with
companies at this London address, the fact
remains that the company is not an entity
in England, and it does not have either an
office or a single paid employee at the
address provided in the air force
contract. This means that under UK law,
Bellimissa Holdings cannot possibly bank
inside the United Kingdom. Thus the
registered address for Bellimissa on the
Letter of Credit issued by the People's
Bank in its favour could not have been
addressed to a British bank, or to a
company address anywhere in England.
then, is the purpose of providing a bogus
England address for Bellimissa? Why not
use its real incorporated address in the
country in which it is registered?
is impossible to call this purchase a
Such a transaction by definition cannot
include a third party in any financial
capacity. Should the government require
financing for a government-to-government
contract it is not difficult for it to
seek either a loan or credit facility from
a bank or the respective government
without involving additional parties based
in tax havens who pretend to be located in
the United Kingdom.
has happened is that for all practical
purposes Bellimissa has purchased MiG-27
aircraft from UKRINMASH for a price
hitherto and yet unknown to the public.
All we know is that in 2000, these very
same aircraft were worth less than 1.8
million US dollars. These same aircraft
were bought from Bellimissa by the air
force in 2006 for 2.4 million US dollars,
each along with a 'finance package.'
exchange for this finance package, the
Defence Ministry agreed to even waive the
performance bond requirement, which means
in plainspeak "it doesn't matter if
your planes don't work, we'll pay you,
regardless." This was highlighted by
The Sunday Leader in our previous coverage
of this saga.
newspaper also highlighted the issue of
the 'End User Certificate' pointed out in
a request from Sri Lanka's Ambassador to
Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga. The End User
Certificate serves the purpose of ensuring
that dangerous weapons reach safe hands.
In this particular case the certificate
would ideally read something akin to:
"The Government of Ukraine hereby
supplies the Government of Sri Lanka with
04 MiG-27 bombers," and not what
actually happened - "The government
of Ukraine hereby provides Bellimissa
Holdings Limited with 04 MiG-27 bombers
for them to sell to the Government of Sri
who, and where on earth is Bellimissa
Holdings and what entitles them to buy
MiG-27 bombers from a foreign government
on behalf of the Sri Lanka Air Force? They
need not have sold the jets to the Sri
Lanka Air Force, but could have just as
easily sold them to the LTTE, which could
have afforded to buy a couple of these
bombers with the seven million US dollars
donated to it by the Rajapakse Cabinet
through the family of Tiger intelligence
operative Emil Kanthan.
assurance does the Sri Lankan government
have that UKRINMASH did not sell more than
four MiGs to Bellimissa under the guise of
acquiring them for Sri Lanka?
public must also question as to who has
the authority to prevent a contract from
being so registered with the Registrar of
Public Contracts? Clause 9 of the Public
Contracts Act makes it clear that, to not
register any contract whatsoever in this
manner is an offence which carries a term
is patently clear therefore that US$ 15
million was paid by the Government of Sri
Lanka to a private company incorporated in
a tax haven for the purchase of four
ancient MiG-27 bombers for the air force,
and that it was thus not a
importantly, it is now established that
the Rajapakse regime had agreed to pay an
entity incorporated in an off shore tax
haven, millions of dollars under a
purported government to government
contract. And the million dollar question
or should we say the 10% question is: Who
are the real beneficiaries?
"Good afternoon. How can I help
"Hello, could you please
connect me to Bellimissa Hold
"Could you just spell that out
for me please so I can see if we
have them here?"
"That's fine I found it.
Bellimissa Holdings. And who is it
you would like to speak to?"
"Mr. M. I. Kuldyrkaev
"Sorry, would you mind spelling
that out for me as well
"That's all I need sir, I found
him, Mr. Kuldyrkaev. Let me get him
on line for you, just a moment
"I'm sorry, he's not picking
up. Would you mind calling a little
later or would you like to leave a
"I just need to confirm that
I've got the correct number as I've
been trying to locate Mr. Kuldyrkaev
for a while."
"We have him on our system,
Sir. Your message will cer tainly
Percy and Prabha took centre stage
marchers demanded answers for many
Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
was certainly a show of strength when the
main opposition UNP and the newly formed
SLFP (M) Group held their first joint
protest rally in Colombo last Thursday
crowds thronged in their thousands to the
starting point of the procession -
Campbell Park in Borella, the surrounding
areas were converted into a sea of people
dressed in green and blue.
tight security in the city following a
'bomb threat' made public earlier in the
week, people from all parts of the island
including those from the newly liberated
east came for the march.
protest march and rally calling for
democracy and the establishment of the
rights of the people by bringing to an end
the present administration, commenced at 2
p.m. from Campbell Park and proceeded to
Hyde Park - the venue of the
"People's Power" meeting.
from the thousands who attended the march,
thousands also stood on the sidewalks to
watch the joint rally as it made its way
through the streets of Borella and
Maradana towards Hyde Park.
striking feature that was noticed by many
was the camaraderie of the supporters of
the two parties - the UNP and the SLFP-M
Group. Casting aside their political
differences, the protesters were seen
marching side-by-side shouting slogans
together that called for a better
the sea of people slowly inched towards
the venue of the meeting, colourful floats
highlighting the issues faced by the
country also drove along with the
determined marchers could not be deterred
by any bomb threats or even when the
heavans suddenly opened up for a short
burst. They marched, drenched in the rain,
wet clothes and all, till they reached the
beginning of the procession reached Hyde
Park around 4 p.m. However, hours later,
mid way into the meeting, the procession
was still in progress and the participants
were marching to the venue cheered by the
on-lookers on the road. Hyde Park could in
no way accommodate the large number of
people that kept pouring in and thousands
had to stand on the adjoining roads to
listen to the speeches made by the party
and UNP supporters stood together looking
at their leaders representing different
hues, sitting side-by-side, fighting for
one cause. As highlighted by most
speakers, the political leaders who were
now working together, had at an earlier
stage worked to bring down the other.
Dissanayake and Ranil Wickremesinghe in
their speeches said that it was Mangala
Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi
who were instrumental in bringing the
present administration into power.
Samaraweera and Sooriyaarachchi also
admitted to being the ones who brought in
the present "destructive"
government into power.
everyone spoke in one voice when they
identified the misdeeds of the government
and stated that it was time to bring it
the speeches of the leaders of the rally
were aired through the loudspeakers, the
crowds cheered and hailed the comments
every few minutes.
walking several kilometers they seemed
determined as ever to stand till the end
of the rally.
for a new government
National Organiser, S.B. Dissanayake
addressing the gathering amidst loud
cheers said it was time to build a new
government under Party Leader Ranil
also said that although Wickremesinghe was
now in the opposition largely due to SLFP
(M) Group Convener, Mangala Samaraweera's
doing, the time was opportune to work to
defeat the evils of the country.
by signing an agreement with us, has given
us the strength. Now let's strengthen
Mangala and carry this fight forward.
Mangala has now stripped Mahinda of all
his clothes and jewellery and left him
only in his loin cloth, but Sripathi has
now even stripped him of that leaving him
nude," he thundered.
continuing with his address said,
"Now it is the Medamulane Chinthana
that is in place, which is without a
beginning, a middle or an end (mulak,
medak, agak nethi Chinthanaya)."
also told the gathering that war was not
the solution to the problem. "A
solution to the problem could only be
found through the devolution of
power," he said.
was the market economy, the legacy of the
UNP, that has helped the country. It was
the UNP that managed to salvage the
economy in 2002 when the country for the
first time recorded a negative growth
rate. Today once again the economy is in
the doldrums and the cost of living is
unbearable," he added.
ended his speech by calling on the people
to fight for the cause to build a new
then took the stage to loud applause and
highlighted the sad plight of the country,
which was expected to be the 'Switzerland
in Asia' soon after the country gained
media has published reports that Sri Lanka
has been identified as a country suffering
from hunger. In another seven months we
will be celebrating 60 years of
independence and we were never known as a
country suffering from hunger. But now
under Mahinda Rajapakse we have become a
country similar to Somalia. We are soon
becoming a failed state and are being
isolated in the world as well," he
said that the President by throwing
tamashas to celebrate military victories
was in fact implying that the military has
not made any gains in the past.
600 million tamasha
President spent over Rs. 600 million to
celebrate the liberation of the east and
spent a large sum of money on fuel for the
air display. All this money could have
been used to give a bonus to all the
forces personnel. They would have received
some money," he said.
charged that the government had no
intention of ending the war and said
Mahinda Rajapakse had made extremism a
then called on the JVP to join the
National Congress to fight for the rights
of the people instead of giving oxygen to
JVP says they are unwilling to join forces
with the UNP. Before us, it was they who
worked with the UNP to bring in the 17th
Amendment to the Constitution that was
drafted by UNP MP K. N. Choksy. I call on
them to join us without giving oxygen to
Mahinda Rajapakse," Samaraweera said.
Don Percy the first cannot sleep at night
as he now sees a letter 'M' when he closes
his eyes and Chandrika Kumaratunga when he
opens them. It has got worse since the
19th when we entered into an MoU. Instead
of governing the country, he is now
telephoning UNP MPs, and goes around using
air force helicopters to perform poojas,"
his role in dissolving the UNF government
in 2004, Samaraweera said that the present
destruction was happening under his
government, which he played a key role in
bringing to power.
are lots of SLFP ministers and members who
are unhappy with the present
administration. They have been prevented
from coming out now, but we promise to
create an environment where they too could
come out soon to join the battle,"
the rally UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
vowed to topple the government and form a
government with a true 'people's mandate.'
are here to cast aside the dooshanaya,
bheeshanaya and the Rajapakse poshanaya.
We are here to protect the rights of the
people and safeguard democracy. We are
gathered as the National Congress to
protect and rebuild the country," he
said that since 2005, the country is being
ruled by a leader without a proper
(Rajapakse) came to an agreement with the
LTTE - the Percy-Prabha agreement, and for
the first time since independence we now
have a government without a mandate,"
said that "Percy Rajapakse has tried
everything - from destroying the SLFP to
silencing the media."
also charged that while 75% of the
national budget was controlled by the
Rajapakse brothers, parliament, the sole
authority over public finances was left
with only 25% to deal with. "Every
tax payer is responsible for public
finances and since parliament has control
of only 25% of the national budget the
people have a say only over that
25%," he added.
cost of living keeps increasing and all
the countries are now angry with us. Who
are the friends we now have? No investors
want to come to the country and Sri Lanka
is on the path to becoming a failed
state," he said, calling on all
forces to join hands to create a better
future for the country.
also said that the rally was just the
beginning of a series of rallies and
protests that would be organised
islandwide to agitate against the present
government and would not end till the
government was toppled and the rights of
the people and democracy were restored.
Coordinator, SLFP (M) Group, Sripathi
Sooriyaarachchi making the final speech at
the meeting vowed to form a new government
under the leadership of Ranil
crowd, waiting impatiently to hear the
details of the alleged deal between the
Rajapakses and the LTTE cheered as he got
said that during the presidential election
campaign, Basil Rajapakse, who was the CEO
of the campaign and he, met the LTTE.
"During the discussion, they tried to
justify the killing of Lakshman Kadirgamar
and I was compelled to speak against it.
Then they spoke of handing over the east
and Karuna and there again I spoke against
it. Basil kept silent and approved the
LTTE's statements. I argued and walked
out," he said.
explained that Basil continued the
discussion with the LTTE and fixed a date
to have another discussion. "About
five or six days later, I asked Basil
about the talks with the LTTE and Basil
had said that the LTTE did not like my
presence as I was against them. I asked
him to act with caution. On the day of the
election, there was a boycott and that was
when we knew.
suspicions were confirmed when we went to
Geneva for the peace talks in February
2006. Basil was also there and was
secretively advising our negotiators to
pay heed to the LTTE's requests. I was
then compelled to go to a toilet to call
Wimal Weerawansa and inform him and
Champika Ranawaka on Basil's moves. It was
then that I realised that the President
and his brothers were trying to work
according to the agreement with the LTTE,"
then called on the government to permit
the formation of the Parliamentary Select
Committee to probe the alleged deal with
is the fourth time I have handed over a
motion to the Speaker calling for the
appointment of a Parliamentary Select
Committee after making the requested
amendments. Everything is in order
now," he said.
ended his speech by saying it was time to
form a new government under the leadership
of Ranil Wickremesinghe.
colour to the event were 'muppets'
depicting the four Rajapakse brothers.
four persons dressed as the Rajapakse
brothers came dancing onto the stage and
acted out a scene depicting the alleged
deal between the Rajapakses and the LTTE
where millions of rupees have allegedly
focused on the time before the
presidential election when the Rajapakse
brothers speak to a person clad as a Tiger
cadre and have given him a large bag with
Rs.150 million marked on the outside. Soon
after the payment is made an 'LTTE air
raid' takes place.
the scene of the air raid, the Chamal
tells his younger siblings that
they were attacked by the LTTE using the
money they had given. The younger siblings
respond by saying that there was no
problem as that too was for the advantage
of the four Rajapakses.
quartet then danced to a song titled Api
Venuven Api before leaving the stage.
the other speakers at the meeting were UNP
Colombo District Leader Ravi Karunanayake,
Western People's Front Leader, Mano
Ganesan and popular actor Ranjan
extravagance of Mahinda
Mahinda Rajapakse together with his
delegations have spent a colossal US $
4,030,800 on 12 official tours since
assuming office in November 2005 according
to conservative estimates.
to a basic cost analysis by some Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) parliamentarians
on the basic travel cost of the President
and his delegations, the state has spent
over US $ 4 million on the President and
his combined delegations. The calculations
exclude both airfare and charter costs.
there is no dispute that a head of state
is justified in undertaking overseas
travel, what has inspired the JVP's
information gathering with a view to
raising the matter in parliament is the
strength of his delegations.
analysis also follows the JVP's call to
curb government expenditure at a time when
the cost of living is spiraling coupled
with increasing defence expenditure.
to the information gathered, the Indian
tour in December 2005, the very first
undertaken by the President following his
election, cost the country some US $
288,000. This Presidential first tour that
lasted five days overseas also came with a
Mahinda Rajapakse next undertook a
three-day tour of Pakistan in April 2006.
The cost however was equal to the
expenditure incurred during the Indian
tour - US $ 288,000. The delegation
comprised 80 members.
time at state cost
a two-day tour of the United Kingdom
undertaken in April 2006, the fully loaded
cost was US $ 12,000 for a five-member
came the two-day Cuban tour in September
2006. This tour cost the state US $
48,000. The delegation strength was 20,
according to the records.
to the basic cost analysis, an
eight-member delegation accompanying
President Rajapakse undertook a five-day
tour of the US next. The entire tour cost
for the nine delegates including the head
of state amounted to US $ 40,000.
President undertook his second visit to
the United Kingdom during the same year.
The three-day tour of the UK undertaken in
September 2006 cost the state coffers a
handsome US $ 79,000, according to
estimates. The President was accompanied
by a 22-member delegation on this
of seven tours
calculations next covered the fully loaded
cost of seven tours undertaken up to June
2007 as well.
three-day tour of the Maldives was
undertaken by President Rajapakse in
February complete with a 12- member
delegation. The cost of the tour amounted
to US $ 43,200.
tour, dubbed one of the most expensive
tours undertaken by a head of state with a
mammoth delegation to match was made to
JVP records that the biggest ever
presidential delegation went to China in
February this year and the delegation
strength was a massive 275. The
corresponding cost was equally mammoth, a
thumping US $ 2,310,000 according to
particular tour came in for heavy
criticism by many, given the massive
delegation the President took along with
came the regional meet, the SAARC Summit
in New Delhi this April.
President visited the Indian capital, and
while his own tour segment was curtailed
to two days due to security reasons, the
entire tour duration was five days. The
strength of his delegation was 36. The
SAARC visit, according to estimates cost
the state US $ 216,000.
Rajapakse also toured Italy in April with
an 18-member delegation during which he
also had an audience with His Holiness,
the Pope. The four-day tour cost US $
President then flew to Barbados during the
Cricket World Cup finals. For this
four-day tour of pleasure and leisure, a
delegation joined him bringing the cost to
a staggering US $ 72,000.
last documented presidential visit is of a
tour of Jordan in May. Some 30 others
accompanied the President on his three-day
tour. The documented cost of this tour is
a staggering US $ 108,000.
total cost of the 12 official visits is
over US $ 4 million, and the pertinent
issue here is not that the President is
undertaking official visits, but that his
combined delegations so far have exceeded
the JVP is currently raising a series of
questions with regard to the excessive use
of vehicles by cabinet ministers, non
cabinet rankers and deputies aimed at a
final cost analysis of the running cost of
each ministry, particularly those set up
since February 2007 when the world's
largest cabinet was sworn in.
has curtailed his overseas
official from the President's Office
speaking to The Sunday Leader on the
basis of anonymity said that he was
not expected to disclose the exact
travel details, but defended the
expenditure incurred stating that
the head of state will naturally be
accompanied by officials, resulting
in the incurring of extra
strength differs from tour to tour.
The Chinese delegation had to be
big, because the President undertook
that for investment promotion
purposes. A lot of entrepreneurs
were included in that delegation and
much benefit was derived from the
single visit," the official
added that political parties and
civic groups may be adding up sums
to portray the President as an
extravagant executive when in fact,
he has taken measures to curtail his
overseas travel to a minimum with
strict instructions being issued to
his government to also reduce