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Former COPE Chairman Denies Clearing Dilan

By Nirmala Kannangara

The appointment of defeated candidates through the national list and the election of some candidates who are accused of large scale frauds and malpractices during the previous Rajapaksa regime to the parliament have raised fear among the public that they may be appointed to key ministerial portfolios in the national government.

One such prospective ministerial candidate is United People’s Freedom Alliance national list MP Dilan Perera. He lost his Haliella seat at the Uva Provincial Council election last year and at the presidential election this January. Knowing that the people will not vote for him to enter parliament, Perera came via the national list and was offered a slot in parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena last week.

The Sunday Leader this week highlights some of the allegations levelled against Dilan Perera when he was the Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare during the Rajapaksa regime.

The newspaper believes it to be the right of the public to know what becomes of the public funds.

The alleged irregularities had taken place at the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE).

 

Not summoned before COPE

However, the former minister when contacted on an earlier occasion by this newspaper said that he has got his name cleared of all charges levelled against him related to the SLBFE when the matter was taken up before the Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE).

Perera’s claim has been flatly denied by former COPE Chairman DEW Gunasekera. According to Gunasekera, Dilan Perera was not summoned before the COPE for the alleged malpractices at the SLBFE.

“Even I read some articles about Dilan’s involvement in frauds at the SLBFE, but this matter was not taken up before COPE although he claims that he got his name cleared. This case was not taken up before COPE, nor did the relevant file come to us,” Gunasekera told The Sunday Leader.

This newspaper is in receipt of an audit report by the government auditors which has clearly stated that money amounting to millions of rupees had allegedly been swindled from the SLBFE for Perera’s election campaign.

It has also showed that former SLBFE Chairman Amal Senadhilankara who was also a UPFA politician some years ago from the Colombo District and Susil Ranasinghe, a one-time OIC (Security) at the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) who was brought in as Director Administration of SLBFE, have allegedly helped the former minister to obtain SLBFE funds for his political activities in the Badulla District.

Ranasinghe who left the country after the fall of Rajapaksa regime in January this year was arrested at the Katunayake International Airport last week when he was trying to re-enter the country.

A part of the audit report

Swindled funds?

“This money was meant for migrant workers’ welfare. Instead of looking after them with their own hard-earned money, Perera has got Senadhilankara and Ranasinghe to swindle the money in the guise of spending on migrant welfare. The former Chairman and his Director Administration have got the SLBFE employees closer to them to get the money released systematically,” an employee of the Bureau who wished to remain anonymous said.

However, the files pertaining to all these allegations levelled against the Former Minister, the Chairman, and the Director Administration together with the government audit report have now been submitted to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and the Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID) for further investigations.

 

Offences against PPA

According to sources, all those who were involved in the alleged irregularities at the SLBFE should be brought before the law under the Offences Against Public Property Act No. 12 of 1982.

“Against those who approved these payments in the guise of ‘official work’, action could be taken under Section 103 and 156 of the Financial Regulations for deliberately violating its Sections 136, 137, and 138,” sources alleged.

 

Forged bills

Perera is accused of involving himself in the financial racket at the SLBFE amounting to a stunning Rs 247.612 million, of which Rs. 2.854 million had allegedly been obtained by producing forged bills.

“The SLFEB has paid Rs.2.854 million to Ravanaella Food and Caterers for supplying food for 5200 participants at Foreign Employment Awareness Walks held in the Gampaha and Colombo, said to be held on April 27, 2014 and April 29, 2014 respectively. These payments have been paid in two installments by two vouchers – No: 93884 dated April 29, 2014 and voucher No: 938539 dated April 30, 2014, each to the value of Rs 1.427 million,” SLBFE sources said.

However, when contacted Chairman of Ravanaella Foods Ranjith Kariyawasam, denied supplying food for such occasions and told The Sunday Leader how Director Administration Susil Ranasinghe had urged him to give two blank bills of his catering service.

“I never supplied food, water, soft drinks, and cream crackers for the Colombo and Gampaha Awareness Walks. They were a set of big rogues and always obtained empty bills from me. I knew what they were up to but since I was supplying food for the SLFEB over the past six years on contract basis, I could not reveal these frauds. When Ranasinghe requested for two blank bills, I knew that it was to be used for a fraud. When I was questioned by the government auditors, they showed me two of my bills amounting to Rs 2.854 million. Although the bills were of Ravanaella Food Caterers, the handwriting was neither mine, nor from any one of my family as we never write bills in English as we do not know the language. I asked the audit officers to submit those bills to the CID so they can check whose hand writings are on the bills to unearth the fraud,” Kariyawasam said.

However, Kariyawasam further said that he provided packets of food worth of Rs.7.5 lakh for the 2014 May Day rally, and Director Administration Susil Ranasinghe gave him two cheques to the value of Rs 2.854 million and wanted him to take Rs 7.5 lakh for the food supplied for the May Day and obtained the balanced money.

“This is not the only occasion such a thing has happened. If I go through my files, I can furnish more details of similar incidents,” Kariyawasam added.

Proving Kariyawasam’s claim, the government audit report reveals how the Sales Promotion Executive in a letter (Ref: Mkt/ 2/ 12-2) dated April 11, 2014 had obtained permission from Chairman Senadhilankara to hold two walks in Gampaha and Colombo on April 29 and 30, 2014 respectively. For these two walks, General Manager SLFEB had received approval from Senadhilankara to purchase 2600 T-shirts and 2600 caps, lunch, and breakfast for the 2600 participants, 2000 bottles (500ml each) drinking water, 15 (16 x 4) banners, and 1500 balloons for the 2,600 participants from each district.

The audit report further states how Senadhilankara, General Manger H. Batagoda, Deputy General Manager Vasantha Munasinghe, Manager Procurement M.A.P. Priyadarshana, and Assistant Finance Manager H.M.D.P. Herath were allegedly involved in making two vouchers to the amount of Rs 2.854 million to be given to Ravanaella Food Caterers although such an event had not taken place, nor had the said caterers have supplied even a toffee to the SLBFE on these two days.

However, Eksith Hapangama of the SLBFE Sales Division who has left the Bureau after the fall of the Rajapaksa government has allegedly placed his signature on these two payment vouchers stating that he accepted the food for the 5,200 participants.

“If he did not attend these walks how could he accept the food? It was also reported how Rs.160,000 has been paid to Ravanaella Food and Catering Services for supplying 4,000 bottles of water (500ml) at Rs 40 each which too is a lie,” sources added.

 

Money for charity work

On another occasion, Rs 3.5 million had been obtained from the SLBFE for pirikara for 1,115 Buddhist monks, a kiri dana for selected 1,500 mothers from migrant worker (rataviru) families and to offer 2,000 gift packs for expectant mothers in these families.

“On a request made by the Press Officer of Foreign Employment Ministry Aruni Ranasinghe, the SLBFE had given Rs 3.5 million for the said purposes which was said to have been held on May 11, 2013 in Haliella – Dilan Perera’s electorate. General Manager and Acting Chairman Susil Ranasinghe had released the funds without the approval of the Board of Directors. As to how Deputy Genaral Manager (Finance) M.A.D. Chandrawansha has instructed the Finance Division to make the payment forthwith promising to get the Board approval on a later date which never happened is highly questionable.

This payment has been sent to Officer-in Charge S. Suresh Kumar of the SLBFE Provincial Office in Badulla through a bank draft on May 9, 2013, and on the instructions of Acting Chairman, Suresh Kumar had cashed the money and had handed it over to Additional General Manager Krisholi Perera which shows how these fraudsters obtained money from the SLBFE funds,” sources added.

When the Government Auditor carried out the investigation, it was revealed that a religious ceremony organised either by the families of migrant workers or by the SLBFE had not taken place, but the subject minister had taken part in another religious ceremony on May 11, 2013 at the same venue organised by another party.

According to the government audit report, bills have been obtained to produce to the SLBFE to show that goods to the worth of Rs 3.5 million were purchased, but in reality this has not happened. According to the report, bills to the value of Rs 1.5 million have been obtained from M.P.K. Traders Badulla on May 11, 2013.

Perera is further accused of using for his political activities the money given to provide relief for 281,767 families that were displaced due to landslides in December 2014.

“The SLBFE made a request from the Board of Directors through a memorandum to release Rs 4 million to supply relief to migrant worker families in 22 districts. Although a cheque was drawn in favour of Jesmin Fancy Trader to the value of Rs 2.236 million on January 2 to make the payment for the goods obtained from them to distribute among the displaced, it was later decided to send the money through a bank draft as Jesmin Trader had wanted the payment done by cash. In addition to the said amount, the General Manager and the Chairman had once again approved to send another Rs 1.726 million bank draft without the Board approval on January 7, 2015, in the guise of purchasing more goods for the displaced,” sources said.

 

Shiranthi’s Siriliya benefited

Meanwhile, Kariyawasam said that Director Operations SLFEB Susil Ranasinghe had allegedly made a request to him to give a cheque to the value of Rs 2 million towards the ‘Siriliya Foundation’ headed by former First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa assuring him to return the money at the earliest.

Hence Kariyawasam had given cash cheque – drawn from Bank of Ceylon Pelawatta Branch A/C No: 0074462903 bearing cheque no 340155 on March 27 to Susil Ranasinghe. But, however, they have failed to return Rs 2 million as promised but instead had returned a cash cheque to the value of Rs 1.6 million which had been deposited in his wife’s bank account.

Meanwhile, the government auditors in their investigation had unearthed how this particular cheque had been remitted to ‘Dilan Perera Foundation’ on April 1, 2013 in the People’s Bank A/C 010100120012392.

Kariyawasam further accused Dilan Perera of not settling the bill for supplying food for a volleyball tournament in which 17 countries participated.

“I supplied food for Rs 1.9 million, and I was paid only Rs.7 lakh promising to settle the bill from the SLFEB funds. Since they were defeated at January 8 election, I have now got to bear the loss to the amount of Rs 1.2 million,” Kariyawasam said.

 

Handed over to CID

Meanwhile Ministry Secretary G.S. Withanage when contacted said that he is also in receipt of the government audit report and the matter had been handed over to the CID for further investigations into the alleged violation of government financial regulations. All attempts taken to contact Dilan Perera for a comment failed. A text message was also sent, but Perera did not respond.

 

13 Comments for “Former COPE Chairman Denies Clearing Dilan”

  1. jani

    Shame on you President and PM to appoint such persons. I hope these come to bite you in the future. People desperately need a government with dignified and honest people appointed in to ministries. All such losers appointed to various positions quite often ask what the country can do for them and not what they could do for the country.

  2. Mahen

    Once he becomes a cabinet minister all these will be swept under the carpet.

  3. Polished

    Perera another one of Rajapasse’s rogues

  4. garawi

    Even DIlan is appointed the president has told that anybody proved guilty will be removed from the post, and lose also the party membership. Right now he need to collect sufficient votes to get the parliamentary 2/3rd majority to change the constitution. That’s how I see how Sirisena is operating.It was obvious from what happened to MR from the time he lost the presidential election. The president works to a well thought plan!

    • Parakrama

      You are spot on President is tactically using them to get 2,/3 rd majority for all new Constitution once done he use his whip to banish all the undesirable Characters from the earth of Politics. We have give him the time and support him.

    • N.WIJERATNE

      gOOD ENOUGH-BUT MANY THINGS CAN GO UNDER THE CARPET-WE ARE DEALING WITH POISON???

  5. solico

    maitripala himself must be a rouge to bring back these rouges from the back door to give ministrial positions so that he also can get his cut.

    • Dr Wijeratne

      Appointing such rouges as Dilan, Anura priyadarshana, Susil premejayntha, Ranjith Siyamabalapitiya to key ministerial positions will tarnish the good image of the president . It will surely create huge problems for the national government in future. I do not think that this government will go long

  6. Christy

    Mr President,Mr Prime minister
    It’s very clear from the audit report that Dilan perera has swindled the poor mans money.Are you going to appoint him as a minister?
    People are waiting to see how you are going to select the cabinet without corrupted ones.
    Please keep to your promise and do not get your name spoilt.Do something that the country will be remember you as a great statesman

  7. wasalaya

    This is disgraceful, we thought the appointment of a new president would change things, but nothing has changed. People rejected corrupt thugs, as they were asked to do. However they came in from the back door. These politician are all the same and only just started

  8. Park

    Its time Yahapalanaya Maithripala delivers what he promised all of us by going behind all his cabinet ministers irregularities first. He should appoint a Presidential Investigation commission with full powers only to investigate the Cabinet Ministers. If he does not do this then its M3′s MAKAPALANAYA.

  9. bandu

    Arrest him and file charges on this rouge who swindled enough of money . He is not worthy to be in the parliament . He calls himself a lawyer . he is a MORON with no respect for his own academy .GET RID OF THIS ANIMAL.

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