The Sunday Leader

Around The World With ‘Ceylinco’ Kotelawala

  • We reveal assets across the world – England, Europe, Far East, Australia, New Zealand
  • Kotelawala & Kotelawala have ‘Cash to last for generations – not lifetime’
  • Pictet & Cie to be sued over Ceylinco Insurance
  • Kotelawala Swiss Bank account details exclusively published

By Faraz Shauketaly in London

The full extent of the treachery indulged in by Lalith Kotelawala and some of his co-officers upon the ‘depositors’ of various Ceylinco Group companies, can be revealed today. We also publish a document which we believe has never been previously published – giving details of Lalith Kotelawala’s correspondence with his Swiss Bankers. We also reveal details of our investigation into some of Lalith Kotelawala’s more significant holdings.

Never before published: Letter from Kotelawala to Swiss Bankers appointing Titawella & Jegasothy as attorneys

The Sunday Leader Investigations desk, shifted its focus this week to London and has traced Kotelawala related companies in even more jurisdictions than Sri Lanka. Whilst the Central Bank appointed Task Force is busy tracing assets in Sri Lanka, The Sunday Leader has taken it upon itself to champion the search for businesses and relationships in territories outside Sri Lanka.

The investigations and research carried out by The Sunday Leader have revealed the plausible link the ‘mentor Chairman’ of Ceylinco, Lalith Kotelawala may have had to a Swiss Bank – which made a strategic purchase in a Ceylinco company. Our investigations also reveal the extent of Lalith Kotelawala’s role as a significant voice and shareholder in the same company – according to documents seen by our investigations team.

Amongst the most sensational pieces of information to be unearthed during our investigations is that two foreign journalists with connections to Sri Lanka are readying themselves to lobby (whilst keeping their legal options also open) a Swiss company known as Pictet & Cie for the return of Kotelawala coterie monies, which the journalists maintain, are managed by Pictet & Cie under trust arrangements. Pictet & Cie for their part are no strangers to such proceedings – when serial Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff went down, the liquidator sued Pictet & Cie for USD 156 Million on the basis that Pictet & Cie must have had knowledge of the fraud that Madoff was perpetrating against his investors. The Sunday Leader contacted Pictet & Cie asking for any information they may have, using the on-line response form to which we have not had a response.

Banks such as Pictet & Cie – as indeed any well regulated financial institution anywhere in the world – have in essence a fiduciary duty of care. KYC – Know Your Customer – requirements are imposed upon financial institutions to combat fraud, money laundering and other unauthorised uses including the funding of terrorism for example.

A bank which is shown to have been in breach of the KYC regime is likely to find little sympathy with their regulatory authorities. A Golden Key Credit Card (GKCC) customer who lost out told The Sunday Leader, “whether or not GKCC was authorised or not by the Central Bank is not the issue. By accepting our monies as de-facto deposits and then paying us a fee on the use of those funds, GKCC entered into a fiduciary duty of care with its customers.

That duty of care is where it failed. GKCC used its dominant role as the business over us the depositors and now it is clear, to our obvious detriment and liability”. Speaking on condition of anonymity (he says that his family or friends do not know of his involvement in any Ceylinco businesses and wished to keep his embarrassment within his own ‘quarry’) the former GKCC customer hoped and urged, “that the courts would take the view that GKCC used its dominant role to the detriment of our funds and visibly did not display any sense of care to ensure our monies were safe”.

Kotelawala surrounded himself with what we journalists have come to describe as the ‘crème de la crème’ of the legal fraternity. For instance Kotelawala writing on his own headed notepaper, in which he alludes to delusions of grandeur, with his grandly titled letterhead: it quite characteristically describes him as “Deshabandu Vishwa” Kotelawala. In the letter published exclusively today in The Sunday Leader Kotelawala gives his Swiss Bankers a directive to discuss various matters with his Attorneys-at-Law. Those two are named as Alagiah Daniel Jegasothy who used one of his addresses as Welisara, Ragama and the other was the indefatigable K. M. A. T. B. Titawella of 6/6 Horton Place, Colombo 7.

Lalith Kotelawala did not do thing by halves it appears: he chose as his auditors none other than Price Waterhouse in Geneva. Lalith may have well settled down in Switzerland for all his secret dealing in that country: he had his wealth managed by FOGESTOR S.A. a fine a Swiss bank as you are likely to come across.

The indications appear to be that Kotelawala and Co., indulged in having overseas subsidiaries and stand-alone entities mirroring the Sri Lanka empire for a number of years and have got quite adept at the use of nominees routinely. Some of their key advisors appeared to us to have a thick coating of Teflon – nothing could stick to them.

In the past many matters pertaining to Kotelawala simply whizzed over the heads of public officials entrusted by the state to look into these matters – for a variety of reasons and possibly breakdowns in systems. However now that much is known and in the open the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, the Foreign Exchange Controller and the Police Department in Sri Lanka are expected to investigate as to how this whole series of companies, trust arrangements and so on was allowed to fund their activities overseas. It is abundantly clear that all these companies overseas – in whichever and however convoluted method they appeared – owed their funding to monies that can be traced ultimately to Sri Lanka.

None of these companies were ever granted any form of permission by the Central Bank to remit or for that matter retain funds overseas, like clearly the Ceylinco officers caused to do. For instance it astounds us that Ceylinco Consolidated and a related company Asia Global Investment operated a thriving Money Remittance business in Malaysia.

The core business was in Sri Lanka. They also had similar businesses – as in the Money Remittance business – registered and operative in Malaysia and Australia. It appears that none of these businesses now have any assets to add to the fund to pay Golden Key and other ‘depositors’. Some of these previous Directors and or Officers of these clearly Ceylinco related companies – where at the very least cross Directorships occur – now feign ignorance of those affairs. It is almost as though all these Directors and or Officers have engaged in a collective amnesia or an instant Alzheimer’s’ syndrome.

For they have all forgotten that the law did not permit them to cause monies destined into Sri Lanka to be estopped outside of Sri Lanka (foreign exchange violations). To have carried on doing business outside of this country and then not be accountable to the very people who funded those businesses is and can be construed to be tantamount to a “criminal breach of trust”.

In the event that these Directors, Officers, Shareholders, Managers (what’s in a name after all) are not willing to not only disclose details but arrange for the monies to be remitted back into Sri Lanka, the Courts would be urged to look at a judicial process that is accelerated and in which all those out on bail be returned forthwith to Welikada.

They were granted bail to assist in an accelerated repayment. What has now happened, according to a naturally incensed depositor, “they have complied with the letter of the law: made a repayment. The Order did not specify a quantum. SO now they are living in air-conditioned comfort, being driven and driving around Colombo in swank up-market vehicles whilst the depositors in agony”.

Pictet & Cie:

The involvement of Pictet & Cie is most interesting. The collapse of Golden Key was in December 2008. The Annual Report for Ceylinco Insurance for 2008 makes no mention of Pictet & Cie as shareholders of any note. In the annual report for 2009 onwards Pictet & Cie have acquired a notable shareholding of 10.68% voting stock and a smaller non-voting stock. Pictet & Cie since 2009 has consistently held its shareholding in Ceylinco Insurance.
Pictet & Cie lists itself as: “Since 1805, Pictet & Cie has advised clients and families in the complex business of protecting and enhancing their wealth through the generations”. They manage wealth for clients in essence. It would be interesting for Sri Lanka’s Central Bank to find out quite how Pictet & Cie made the investment in Ceylinco Insurance, trace the route of the funds and establish from Pictet & Cie that these funds are not in any way connected to funds that have disappeared from Golden Key customers and or other Ceylinco companies and or its various Officers, Managers, Directors and Managers. A failure by Pictet & Cie to ‘Know Your Customer (KYC)” will be viewed rather dimly by the Swiss banking authorities as global awareness of secret off shore companies and holdings come under the spotlight.

Fogestor S.A.

Fogestor S.A. appears to be the Swiss Bank of Lalith Kotelawala’s choice. Describing himself as “Deshamanya Vishwa” (Not just Pride of the Nation but Pride of the World “ALL”) Lalith Kotelawala wrote to Fogestor S.A. confirming that his attorneys Alagiah Daniel Jegasothy and K.M.A.T.B. Titawella were empowered to act on his behalf and even ‘receive documents’. This letter is published for the first time ever this week.
The Central Bank at any rate will most certainly be contacting FOGESTOR SA the bank identified as where Lalith Kotelawala has stashed away some of his monies. As with all The Sunday Leader investigations a full set of our notes will be made available to the Task Force, Central Bank, Controller of Exchange and the CID.
(faraz@thesundayleader.lk) Tel 0772300305) We acknowledge with thanks the many emails and telephone calls from those that wished to assist with our investigation and look forward to receiving more details. Confidentiality is always assured.)

 

Lalith Kotelawala’s Holdings In Ceylinco Insurance

Top 20 Shareholder 54,886 Share Value = Rs 54,886,000 (Rs 54.8 Million)
CIESOT Private Ltd. 4,571,891 (22.865) = Rs 4,571,891,000 (Rs 4.5 Billion)
Indirect through CIESOT Pvt Ltd.
Kotalawala owns 50% of shares in CIESOT Private Ltd. (To be verified)

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Food for thought – What are these?
GOLDEN KEY CONSULTING LIMITED(1451559) Struck off NZ Limited Company
GOLDEN KEY DEVELOPMENT LIMITED(1539450) Registered NZ Limited Company
10/32 Parr Terrace, Milford, Auckland, 0620, New Zealand
GOLDEN KEY ENTERPRISES LIMITED(1480013) Struck off NZ Limited Company
1/913 HeretaungaStrret East, Hastings, New Zealand
GOLDEN KEY HOLDINGS LIMITED(1190658) Struck off NZ Limited Company
B D O Spicers, Homestead Road, Kerikeri, New Zealand
GOLDEN KEY INTERNATIONAL LIMITED(3513332) Struck off NZ Limited Company
2 Logan Court, Chartwell, Hamilton, 3210, New Zealand
GOLDEN KEY LIMITED(281949) Registered NZ Limited Company
Unit 10, 333 Harewood Road, Bishopdale, Christchurch, 8543, New Zealand
GOLDEN KEY PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LIMITED(1917324) Struck off NZ Limited Company
8/135 Newton Rd, City, Auckland, New Zealand
GOLDEN KEY INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LIMITED(1518657) Struck off NZ Limited Company
2 Logan Court, Hamilton, New Zealand
GOLDEN KEY REALTY & MANAGEMENT LIMITED(1899112) Registered NZ Limited Company
573 Cashel Street, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand
GOLDEN KEY REALTY AND MANAGEMENT LIMITED(1296387) Struck off NZ Limited Company
38 Hollyford Ave, Christchurch, New Zealand
GOLDEN KEY COMPANY LIMITED(1598845) Registered NZ Limited Company
133b Great South Road,, Greenlane, Auckland, New Zealand

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The Humane Story:

The Sunday Leader has met at least one person, a depositor of GKCC (although we refer to them as depositors we are aware that technically they were not depositors but mere customers) who simply cannot afford to pay for her metformin tablets daily. Instead of taking 3 x 500 mg metformin tablets she can only afford the one. The Sunday Leader does wonder if Lalith Kotelawala would like the details of this person, so that of the 54,886 shares he has jointly with his spouse from which he would have had a dividend of Rs 686,075 last December, he would be able to pay for her metformin for several years yet. In case he is familiar with what an actuary does, Kotelawala will know that a woman in her 80’s is closer to the end of her innings than otherwise and therefore this person would only need a miniscule amount of funds to at least pay for her medicine – even if she has lost her financial independence and is now grateful to her son-in-law for the help he can afford. That is the reality – the humane reverberations of the Ceylinco debacle.
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Principals Named Not Guilty
The Sunday Leader wishes to state there is no inference that any of the principals named in this article are guilty of any wrongdoing. Statements attributed to third parties are not necessarily the opinion of The Sunday Leader.

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And This Is Lalith’s Too:
Shares in Ceylinco Insurance Company Plc:
Jivaka Lalith Bhupendra Kotelawala
(36,745 shares and joint with Mrs. S. Kotelawala 18,141 shares)
54,886 or 0.27%
Dividend Income in 2012 – Rs 686,000
Valued at Rs 54,886,000 (Rs 54.8 Million)
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And Just Who Owns These?

Pictet & Cie
2,136,100 or 10.68%
Valued at Rs 2,136,100,000 (Rs 2.136 Billion)
Dividend Income in 2012 Voting shares only Rs 26,700,000 (Rs 26.7 Million)
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The Ceylinco Link In Australia:

1. CEYLINCO ASPIC CORPORATION PTY LTD
2. Ceylinco Developments Pty Ltd
3. CEYLINCO ASET PROPERTY PTY. LTD.
4. CEYLINCO AUSTRALIA HOLDINGS PTY LTD
5. CEYLINCO GOLDEN KEY CORPORATION PTY LTD
6. CEYLINCO HOME LOANS
7. CEYLINCO HOMES AUSTRALIA PTY LTD
8. CEYLINCO INTERNATIONAL TRADING PTY LTD
9. CEYLINCO RUBBER PRODUCTS
10. CEYLINCO SLATS DEVELOPMENTS PTY. LTD.
11. Ceylinco Express Remittance (Australia) Pty Limited
12. Ceylinco TFC Property Developments Pty Ltd
13. CELINCO PTY LTD Entity Name 3434 VIC
14. CEYLINCO F&G PROPERTY DEVELOPERS PTY LTD
Ceylinco Express Remittance (Australia) Pty Ltd (Ceylinco Fast Cash)

8 Comments for “Around The World With ‘Ceylinco’ Kotelawala”

  1. Dot

    Good Sunday reading indeed . Eye catching headline for to enhance investigative Journalitic excellence ! But where does it end ? How will the rule of moral ethics prevail ? Your guess is good as mine .. on the road to no where . The Good lawyers who were screaming to stop the CHOGM meeting citing the lack of law and order , never took up the cause of the several hundreds caught up in the scam and feel hopeless that the wheels of the law turn so slowly making us forget the situation till the next sensational headline in some tabloid or another !

  2. M. GONE

    The Kotelawala’s were able to escape from being taken to task by the central bank because they had Mr. P.T. Sirisena a former very senior official of the central bank on the board of directors of their companies, and Mr. Sirisena used his influence and experience to have the illegal activities swept under the mat.

    The gentleman at the extreme right in the photograph published in the Sunday Leader today 21st July 2013 is none other than Mr. P.T. Sirisena.

    The lady in blue second from left is none other than Ms. Yasmin Chitty who was the foreign affairs consultant in CEYLINCO consolidated, and to the right of Ms. Yasmin Chitty is Mr. Hiran de Silva deputy chairman of CEYLINCO Shriram.

    Probably all records and files pertaining to the foreign affairs meetings that were held at the chairman’s office all day every Thursday must be either destroyed by fire or thrown into the Indian ocean or Diyawanna Oya, as this is the tactic of the Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotelawala.

    The facts stated in the article are accurate and true.

    Kotelawala has enough and more funds to pay all depositors and live happily ever after.

    God bless you Faraz for taking all the pain in helping the innocent victims “Depositors of the Golden Key” by highlighting and educating the public of this fraudster Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotelawala.

    One more request what about the plight of the staff of the 47 companies in the golden Key Group who have been reduced to beggars and who have not received one cent in compensation, except for a few including the so called president of the Golden Key Union and a few others who were on the committee were paid their compensation to have the verdict given by the honourable judge at the labour tribunal Colombo suppressed and swept under the carpet, while 1,445 odd staff are silently suffering.

    The staff are suffering untold hardships, with no place to stay and employers reluctant to give them employment or exploiting their circumstances and offering employment for very low salaries.

    Please please highlight their circumstances and request the commissioner general of labour Mrs. Pearl Weerasinghe to have their compensation and gratuity paid without further delay.

  3. M. GONE

    WHY IS NOT MR. NIHAL PEIRIS ARRESTED AND QUESTIONED IN RESPECT OF THE ACCOUNT “ASIA GLOBAL INVESTMENTS” AND ACTION TAKEN TO HAVE THESE FUNDS REMITTED TO SRI LANKA.

    FURTHER, ALL DIRECTORS OF THE GOLDEN KEY CREDIT CARD COMPANY LIMITED WERE RELEASED ON BAIL STATING THAT THEY WILL HELP IN THE EXPEDITIOUS REPAYPMENT OF THE DEPOSITS – BUT THIS HAS NOT HAPPENNED – THEY SHOULD ALL BE THROWN BACK IN PRISION FOR VIOLATING BAIL CONDITIONS.

    HONOURABLE AND DISTINGUISHED BENCH OF THE SUPREME COURT YOUR LORDSHIP AND LADYSHIP IT IS OVER TO YOU FOR JUSTICE QUCK AND FAST AND GIVE RELIEF AND PEACE OF MIND TO THE DEPOISITORS.

  4. rob

    Gunawardena and his friends are the coordinator of all this. Now that a MI officer has been attached to the task force, he will know exactly how to tract the man, provided no interference is made.

  5. kotalwala should be re-remanded til all dues to investors in Golden Key Credit Card Co are paid

  6. James Ingham

    Mano Tittawela mentioned in this article also has a home in Gangadhara Mw, off Teples Road Mt. Lavinia and is running a business [accounting and business management] in Australia. He should know very well about Lalith’s investments in Australia.

  7. Ayanthi

    It is sad that ,among all those big thieves, this thief looks like a saint? The investigator is a fraud. The Chief Justice talks of people not paying tax. He forgets about Kotalawela not paying tax, he forgets the tax department that took bribes, to let Kotalawela not pay tax. Not paying tax to buy metformin is something, but not paying tax to stash in the Swiss bank is something else.

  8. Gamini

    What about the multiple houses – some with swimming pools inside – belonging to the Ceylinco directors ? They should be legally forced to sell them and the monies realized be paid to the long suffering depositors. Some of these houses/apartments have been written in the names of their conceited children to prevent them from being seized by the authorities.

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