The Sunday Leader



Sri Lanka can truly be myopic and in fact they really are. Its law enforcement agencies are nothing short of a joke. It is rare that an officer who has been entrusted with a piece of work will actually be pro-active and get on with it. In case you are wondering just what I am referring to, do you remember an event called the collapse of the Golden Key depositors? Tricky Lalith Kotelawala, who wined, dined and financed all sorts of officials including politicians and ecclesiastical types from the Buddhist faith and the faith of the son of God, Christians, managed along with his wife the inappropriately named Lady Sicille to misappropriate, a staggering Rs. 26 Billion rupees from over 3,000 Sri Lankans.

Lalith and Sicille Kotelawala

Tricky Lalith Kotelawala was remanded much to not only his horror, but also to a large number of persons who ‘believed’ in Tricky Lalith. Those believers were no better than those who believed in Maddoff, or for that matter who believed in ‘Daduwam Mudalali’ from down Tangalle way or even like those who believed in Sakvithi – the clothes-stripping remand prisoner. There is however a slight difference – whilst Daduwam was arrested, remanded and then supposedly shot whilst in Police custody, Sakvithi is still in the remand prison at Welikada although he is showing signs of mental breakdown or is that a ploy to have him moved from Welikada to Angoda? – The Kotelawala’s have on the other hand, found that the system in place in Sri Lanka is able to provide him with ‘first-class’ service.
Kotelawala used his imagination and the network he cultivated to ensure he hired himself the best lawyers his slighted money could buy. Nothing wrong with that I hear the believers cry! Of course not, that is the preserve of the rich of the capitalist, I am in entire agreement. Nothing wrong with hiring the best that money can buy. It does not follow however that the best money can buy is the same as the best that can be bought. A subtle difference but an important one. Ironically some of the same legal eagles who represented Kotelawala are today aligning themselves with the Chief Justice over her impeachment motion. As an aside, will those lawyers now appear before the same Chief Justice on some matter and can we reasonably expect the rules to be kept ‘whiter than white’.
The lawyers representing him made the finest representations I presume: an arrangement was reached (I was tempted to say ‘a deal was struck’) whereby the Supreme Court agreed that a special commission be appointed to oversee the affairs in order that the hapless depositors – and no not all were cash rich businessmen who were merely spreading the risk around, whilst at the same time taking advantage of the far fatter rates that Kotelawala was paying – could be repaid quickly. I believe the terminology used was ‘in order that depositors could be repaid expeditiously’ and the argument used was that if Kotelawala was not on remand i.e. was on the ‘outside’ along with his directors, then repayment and a plan for repayment could be reached far more expeditiously than if he were ‘inside’ amongst the heroin, crack, ganja addicts of Welikada. Only God knows what Tricky Lalith would have done during the riots if he were inside – one of my friends thought he would have been at the forefront cutting deals with the escapees in order that he would provide them with safe passage so they too could enter the pearly gates at London Heathrow and join Lady Tricky in Knightsbridge, London.
So with Lalith on the outside did indeed the depositors get quicker repayment? No not at all is the simplest and safest of answers. No rocket science there. Lakshman Watawala – with or without his professorship – was appointed by the Supreme Court to head the commission. He did so with some others and made some progress before all of a sudden he announced he simply could not work on this anymore. In essence he got ‘fed up’, frustrated, annoyed or any combination of those items or not. The bottom line was he could not/did not go ahead. He of course made some progress but not a lot. They did however; spend an awful lot of money. This newspaper questioned why it was that he was not providing published accounts for the monies budgeted for in the first instance before his budget at the time could be replenished. Predictably there was no answer – to the depositors or to us.
The upside is this: that Tricky Lalith with his supposed ‘billions’ missing (or being taken care of by his acolytes who still run successful companies that were once part of his ‘Group’) still enjoys a right Royal lifestyle matched in this country only perhaps by the First Citizen. Whilst First Citizen (FC) has every right to live as he does, represent as he does the mass of 20 million souls – Lalith Kotelawala is simply a very tricky fella who does not deserve to be chauffeured in jeeps and other luxury vehicles, is waited and foot by a battery of home help all of whom almost are paid for by component companies of what was then grandly known as the ‘Ceylinco Group’.
Whilst Kotelawala acolytes somehow take care of Kotelawala, paying for his medication, his food, his retinue of staff, his telephones, his vehicles and possibly the tissue in his toilet too, thousands of depositors suffer in silence. Lady Tricky is in London, has been seen in the fashionable districts of Knightsbridge and Mayfair, Sloane Street and the Kings Road and has been spotted at the up-market supermarket chain Waitrose and so ostensibly leads a good life. Quite legitimately, Lady Tricky Kotelawala is living off what could possibly be Golden Key depositors’ funds. One imagines that her Christmas Dinner this year was made up from the best that Waitrose had to offer although it is entirely within reason that Lady might just have ordered her entire dinner for herself and her friends from that up-market grocers of yore, Harrods Limited.
Note for the Kotelawalas the handouts given by friends and family of the Golden Key depositors who have lost out on everything. They sold their ancestral lands to rush to the then respected Kotelawala concern Golden Key to take advantage of higher than average rates of return. And no it was not just greed it was the fact that such an eminent personality as Kotelawala was franchising his name to his business that attracted such large monies to their coffers.
Many in Sri Lanka this season will be significantly sad. They will rue the day that they were told of the ‘opportunity’ to get higher than average returns on their monies. Monies they spent in the coffee houses and high-teas of star class establishments and holidays upcountry when Colombo was too hot. They hob-knobbed with the hoi polloi of Sri Lankan society and the economy also boomed. After all Rs. 26 billion paying 24% works out at Rs. 520 Million every month – money that is not in the economy today. And yes it was the money that was also spent on buying their metformin, gliclazide, simvastatin and hundreds of other medicines needed to keep their illnesses at bay.
It was monies they spent at Lanka Hospitals, Nawaloka and Durdans too. To-day as we watch Tricky Lalith swanning around Colombo in his smart vehicles and living in royal comfort in Skelton Road Colombo and hear of Tricky Lady Kotelawala’s high rolling in glitzy London tucking into the best that Sir Bernard Matthews can produce during this season, spare a thought or two, won’t you for those depositors who are so destitute they can’t afford their diabetic tablets and who certainly cannot afford a slice of tuna for this season, let alone prime turkey.

23 Comments for “TURKEY FOR SOME”

  1. Great peice of writing–all about the turkey that was not brought to the table.
    The whole story in a nut shell.

  2. Maha Bhuta

    Well, Lady kothalawala is high rolling. Where in glitzy London.

    But you and others in your paper are campaigning for the Sri Lankan govt to follow all the instructions from the same city, on our internal affairs.

    Is only one side of your system working?

  3. Dhananjaya Perera

    I know film actor Boniface Fernando is suffering very badly as he lost rs 20 million robbed from him by lalith and cicilia

  4. K.Deen

    good one but this is the Banana Republic and its a sad state of affairs

  5. tony

    I deposited half a million @ F&G and just before the break down of F&G handed over the form to withdra my monies. However, F&G did kept delaying to refund my deposit. Later my wife had to be hospitalised and needed scans, radiotherapy etc and I ran short of my reserves, When I notified the CEO of F&G asking him to release some money to give medical attention to my wife, he simply ignored my notices. After a few months my wife passed away and I informed the CEO that she passed away. He telephoned to condole, but that was all, When I tried to call him on that mobile line he telephoned me to condole, he did not answer. Am sure there would have been several other depositors who would have experienced similar or even worst plight. What is the use of Finance Companies registering with the Central Bank (CB), if CB cannot do anything for the depositors?????? Can anyone tell how an investor can recover his deposits from a finance company.

  6. de silva


  7. Mah Headroom

    Well written Faraz and thanks for the effort. There is something here – between lines – I hope readers could catch.

    Our FC is ill advised. I hope FC would read this article and reframe the TOR to convince anyone – from a nit wit to the brilliant – that there is a prima facie case for true clean up of the portals of Justice.

  8. Aiyooooo

    Thank you Mr. Shauketaly for writing this on our behalf. The politicians and the judiciary have given us the run around

  9. Moda Mervyn

    The government should reconsider – sell all the properties of Mrs. Padmini Karunanayake, Mr. Hiran De Silva, Mr. Khavan Perera and LK also sought out the issue and jail all of them once again.

    • Jennifer De Roote

      Agree – especially Mrs. Karunanayake has played out a money fall. She is also having all luxuries once again – govt. should seriously look at taking them to task again to relieve these poor people.

  10. Anoma

    Where is the justice for the many who have lost all they have saved in a lifetime ?. What justice can be expected when the judiciary is so corrupt bankrolling their spoils at the expence of these people . Shame on SL for aiding and abetting crooks .

  11. suren soysa

    The legal scavengers in black suites & the politicians are a such a dirty bunch that has ruined the morals & the decency of the multi -ethnic society of Sri Lanka. Kothalawala is only another foul product of this society like the black coats & the politician!

  12. gamarala

    Sicille K is wanted by Interpol but the sri lankagovernmen is not cooperating with the paperwork. Why?
    How about some investigative journalism?

  13. Daniel

    I have the same question, IF Sakwithi is in Prision,
    why Kothalawala is not

  14. Rohan

    This article is a load of crap. This has been written to make up a story to drag the CJ into this. All what has been said is al oad of crap about Lalith and Sicille. Allah forbid Faraz.

  15. Hussain

    This koker Faraz has written the article in such a way that he will not be sued. He knows that he has made it up but has written it in such a way that he will not be held accountable if he is sued.

  16. bil

    Actually what Buddhism – and life in general – teaches us is this: to take th best from everyone and leave aside the worst. Therefore if we can take the best of what the British and others have to say like accountability, good governance and a respect for the rights of the other man, then we can steam ahead. There is no good that will come from trying to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to good governance, accountability and a healthy respect for the rules and regulations. We as a nation must act with a sense of decorum and pride: we must hold even the unlikeliest rogues fully accountable and in that context throw Tricky Lalith in jail and forget all about him until he repays these depositors. As for his wife she must be forced to return here so she can loose some of her weight whilst in Welikada. Whats sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander is all I can say

  17. Danno Danithi

    This above story is a “One Side of the Coin”, the other side of the “Coin” may be one “Powerfull Slum Dog” is dreamining this “Childless ” couple`s “Ceylinco House” and “Dickman`s road Mansion” add to his illgotten wealth.

  18. aney

    This man was always a crook. If you can lay hands on a Judgment givem by Hon, HNG Fernando in the 60s or 70s you can understand the nature of the man .

    Or Ask Joe who he paid a few of millions {big at that time} when he was chalenged

  19. jaya

    If you have enough money you can do anything you want that is why two different laws have been applied for Sakvithi and Lalith. innocent depositors are helpless. Birds of a feathers pluck together. We are in the era of wonder Asia.

  20. Perumal

    Apparently you have some substance there but nothing can replace a person’s right to be heard.

  21. Shaik Anwar Ahamath

    The double standards we see all around us is staggering. One of the Ministers pouring oil on the CJ Impeachment saga is the Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayantha who has been highly critical of the CJ (Daily News 01.01.13) citing as one of her alleged misdemeanours the purchase of the house from Trillium Residences with four cheques whilst in her evidence she had claimed she paid cash. This Minister must truly be an imbecile if he expected the CJ to carry Rs.19 million in Rupee banknotes.
    I am not sure how involved this Minister of the Petroleum Industries had been in the disastrous Hedge Fund Deal on which this government had lost US$ Billions in compensation.

  22. Siva

    Excellent article. Lets get this Pal hora in prison.

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