The Sunday Leader

Carlton ‘Sports’ Uncovered By Probe

  • Probe shows Rajapaksas’ role in CSN

by Nirmala Kannangara

Following the initial investigations carried out by the Police Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID), it has now come to light that the Carlton Sports Network (CSN) is owned by the Rajapaksa family, despite claims made otherwise when allegations were levelled against them for owning large amounts of wealth, after the fall of the Rajapaksa regime on January 8, 2015.

 

Ownership

It is alleged that Rs.230 million had been invested to commence the CSN channel and questions were raised as to who the investors of the project were, if it did not belong to the former First Family. Initially, it was said that Cosmos Technology and Cosmos Printing, owned by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s one time confidante Sajin Vass Gunawardena, had invested Rs.50 million each from both his companies, another Rs.52 million by Nimal Perera, Chairman of Pan Asia Bank, who is yet another Rajapaksa supporter, Rs.25 million by Chesmy Consolidates owned by Himal Lalinda Hettiarachchi and Ranganee Hettiarachchi, who are said to be a nephew and a niece of Mahinda Rajapaksa (elder sister’s children) and the rest Rs.50 million on a loan obtained  from Lanka Orix Leasing Company (LOLC), were used to start CSN.

Although the Rajapaksas implied that they had not invested money in CSN and the money was invested by Sajin Vass Gunawardena, Nimal Perera, Chesmy Consolidates and by a loan obtained from LOLC, giving evidence at the FCID investigations, Chairman of Pan Asia Bank, Nimal Perera had stated that Yoshitha Rajapaksa had once obtained a signed document from him, but he had not invested any money as stated by the CSN.

It was later revealed that Perera’s signed document had been used to show that he (Perera) had given money to CSN.

With Nimal Perera’s statement, questions have been raised as to how this money was obtained to invest to start the CSN channel.

Although the management of CSN had stated that Rs.100 million was obtained from Sajin Vass Gunawardena’s two companies – Cosmos Technology and Cosmos Printing, giving evidence at the FCID, Sajin Vass Gunawardena has denied CSN’s claim of Cosmos Technology investing Rs. 50 million, but had stated that Cosmos Printing had given Rs.50 million to start the television station.

If it is so, then who had given the other Rs.50 million the CSN claims to have obtained from Cosmos Technology?

However, it was revealed that LOLC had given the CSN a loan of Rs.50 million and as they failed to pay the loan back, they have recovered the money from the guarantor – TPL (Pvt) Ltd, which is a Singaporean Company. The signatory for the guarantor was the General Manager of TPL (Pvt) Ltd, Tiana Diyanthi Anthonis, who is Sajin Vass Gunawardena’s wife. It was TPL that had provided machinery to Mihin Lanka for ground handling purposes, while Gunawardena was the Chairman/Managing Director of Mihin Lanka Airlines.

 

Lies, Lies, Lies

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Chesmi Consolidates have also not invested monies on CSN. In the backdrop of the latest revelations where most of the said investors have denied having invested with the CSN, questions have been raised as to who had invested on this sports channel and why its management had lied saying it was not the Rajapaksa family that invested on CSN, but other private individuals, to illustrate that this TV channel does not have any connection with the Rajapaksas’.

Although it was as such, The Sunday Leader is in possession of documents to show that the CSN network was registered at an address in Torrington Avenue, Colombo 5, where Mahinda Rajapaksa lived during 2001 to 2004, when he was the Leader of the Opposition. Not only CSN’s registered office is at No:260/12, Torrington Avenue, Colombo 5, but also Siriliya Saviya, which is a non- governmental organisation (NGO), headed by Shiranthi Rajapaksa, where another financial fraud is said to have transpired in this NGO. The registered office of Siriliya Saviya too, is the same address as of the CSN registered office. Further the Carlton Pre School, Carlton Sports Club and Namal Rajapaksa’s Tharunyata Hetak too, have been registered on the same address at No: 260/12, Torrington Avenue, Colombo 5.

This property of the said address was originally not owned by Rajapaksas, but by Prabath Nanayakkara, a businessman who thrived in his business during the Rajapaksa regime. After Rajapaksa became the President of the country in 2005, this property had been bought over by Mary Lourdes Wickremasinghe, bearing National Identity Card no: 535233314V on April 5, 2013 for Rs.35 million. This Mary L. Wickremasinghe, is none other than Shiranthi Rajapaksa, wife of Mahinda Rajapaksa. This also reveals how both husband and wife appear in fake names as Mahinda Rajapaksa’s real name is Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa.

The land in which the CSN office is situated at 236/1, AB 15, Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, Battaramulla was a state land but on the request to build the Rajapaksa Memorial Educational, Cultural and Social Services headquarters was granted by the then UNP government on December 3, 2003 by cabinet paper 10/ 8/ 1/ 602. Although the land was obtained for a social services purpose, it was later given to start the CSN Head Office

Be that as it may, CSN had got their company registered on February 2011 and had commenced its operations on March 7, 2011. At the inception, CSN directors were S. K. Dissanayaka, A. R. Fernando, Sandya Karunajeewa, Dinesh Jayawardena and Rohan Welivita.

Weliwita’s wife was the Personal Assistant to Shiranthi Rajapaksa at this time. Later Nishantha Ranatunga, the then secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket became CSN’s CEO.  Rohan Weliwita was relinquished as a Director, Dinesh Jayawardena was appointed instead.

 

Enormous revenue

The revenue CSN gained after obtaining the rights to telecast cricket matches is enormous. According to sources from Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), giving the telecast rights of Sri Lanka Cricket to CSN was a great loss to the institution and added how Rupavahini employees were disheartened when the management of SLRC deliberately stayed away from bidding to obtain the licence to telecast cricket matches.

“When the bids were called by SLC for TV rights to telecast all cricket matches played locally or internationally from 2012 to 2015, CSN was the only channel that had bid for the rights. When SLRC paid Rs.143 million only to broadcast the 2011 Cricket World Cup, but made revenue to the amount of Rs.556 million, (SLC) offered the broadcast right to CSN for a mere Rs.125 million for a three year period. Although they paid SLC only this amount, it is said that they have earned over Rs.3, 000 million revenue solely from advertisements,” reliable SLRC sources who wished to remain anonymous told The Sunday Leader.

According to sources, although international cricket matches could be broadcast only by a state media institution, the Rajapaksa administration in 2011, after CSN was incorporated, took a cabinet decision to allow international cricket matches to be broadcast even on a private channel paving way for CSN.

“It was SLRC that broadcasted all international matches since the broadcasting regulations were introduced, but with the 2011 cabinet decision, CSN got the broadcasting rights for three years at a stretch from 2012 to 2015, although earlier this right was awarded on a series by series basis.

Anyone can argue that there is no wrong by awarding this right to CSN as any other TV channel had not sending their bids, but the SLC had to go through the past records and the performance of the bidder and the financial viability and audited accounts of the bidder before awarding such a responsible bid. If there were no bids from any other party, SLC, which is a public institution, which is run by the tax payers’ money should have called for fresh bids and offered to the highest bidder.

Instead of doing so, SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, who was CEO of CSN offered the contract to a channel that had not even completed one year in business as he (Ranatunga) was working for them,” sources alleged.

The sources further alleged how the SLRC management in 2011 gave some old cricket visuals to CSN although this is strictly prohibited.

“We never give such visuals to any party although CSN was given all the old visuals. They have also been given the SLRC transmission antenna at Karagahatenna and theSri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) tower at Deniyaya free of charge. In addition they have erected their highest tower in close proximity to SLRC tower in Pidurutalagala and the CSN transmission station is within Sri Lanka Navy premises at Piduruthalagala and it is the Navy staff that operates the station even after the fall of Rajapaksa regime. Earlier during the Rajapaksa administration, it was the Navy that paid the electricity bill of this transmitting station but not aware whether it is still the Navy that bares the CSN electricity costs,” sources alleged.

According to sources, CSN had imported a satellite equipped Benz vehicle in the run up to the 2015 presidential election in order to show Rajapaksa election meetings live on TV.

However former Chairman CSN and a share holder of the company, Rohan Welivita refuted allegations leveled against the Rajapaksa family for owning the questionable TV station and added that it is owned by four shareholders – he himself, Sajin Vass Gunawardena, Nimal Perera of Pan Asia Bank and Chesmi Consolidates. When asked as to how he can claim that Sajin Vass has invested Rs.100 million and Nimal Perera Rs.50 million, when both have given statements to the FCID that the latter had not invested any money and Gunawardena only Rs.50 million, Welivita said that the CSN has got all the documents to prove the agreement these two parties entered into with CSN.

“If these two have stated that our claim is wrong and if the FCID has obtained all the necessary details to charge us why are they dragging their feet without taking any action against the CSN? Its more than six months since the FCID was started but why cannot they act against us? Let them take any action we are ready to face it,” Welivita said.

Welivita further said that CSN has never misused state properties as accused by certain politicians. When asked whether they have paid the new tax imposed by the government in January as there are allegations that they have evaded paying this tax to the government, Welivita said that the government never inform them officially to pay any tax as such.

“Yes we know that a new tax was introduced on many profitable institutions but it was mere a media show but was not implemented. Not only for us, the government has not inform this even to telecommunication service providers as well,” he stated.

 

CSN was Welivita’s brainchild

Since Welivita claimed that CSN was his brainchild and it was he who got the institution registered with the Registrar of Companies, when asked in which address this company was registered and who the owner of that premises  was, Welivita said the premises is owned by Prabath Nanayakkara, at 260/ 12, Torrington Avenue, Colombo 7.

When inquired if he doesn’t know that the premises in question was bought by Shiranthi Rajapaksa well before CSN was registered at the said address, surprisingly Welivita, who earlier claimed that it was he who got the company registered with the Registrar of Companies, contradicting his own statement said he knew nothing about the company registration.

However, Welivita admitted that the premises where the CSN office is located at Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, Kotte, was obtained from the D.A. Rajapaksa Foundation.

“There is no issue about it. How much of land that had been given for charitable purposes, are now been used for offices and business ventures? We were asked to take this land by the D.A. Rajapaksa Foundation and we obtained it,” he said.

However, Welivita said that he doesn’t know whether the CSN has failed to pay its electricity bills, used Presidential Security Division (PSD) vehicles and even whether the CSN transmission station at Piduruthalagala is situated well within the Navy camp and it is the navy officers that operate the stations.

“I am only a shareholder and do not attend to CSN work as I am now working for the former President. So I am busy and have no time to look into CSN work now,” Welivita added.

 

12 Comments for “Carlton ‘Sports’ Uncovered By Probe”

  1. Anton

    We all know these improper financial acts by former big family.Rather than writing and talking about these thieves why go and arrest them.WE THE GENERAL PUBLIC SICK AND DISGUSTED LISTENING TO THESE BULL SHIT OVER AND OVER AGAIN.GOD BLESS SRILANKA.

  2. Ponil Sevalasena

    Here in this article there are lot of unsupported claims, statements.
    If yo are so much in to the truth, please be objective and truthful. Otherwise you are no different than the politicians.

    Remember what goes around comes around. Just because you are a journalist does not mean you are protected from all wrong doings. You have the same responsibilities and rights as the rest of the Sri Lanka.
    So next time be truthful otherwise close shop and go home.

    • iemerald

      we all know that the rajapakses and their cahoots are thieves and frausters also verging on criminality.
      pull your buried head from under the sand and you will seeyour arse and everything around you

    • abey

      Ponil Seva or ponna sena

      What do you want Sunday Leader to do. Take Rajapaksha to courts. That is a job for the Police and hopefully the will do that. Are you a Rajapaksha boot licker?

  3. amden

    “SLC, which is a public institution, which is run by the tax payers’ money”
    SLC IS NOT A PUBLIC INSTITUTION RUN BY TAXPAYERS’ MONEY!
    Get your facts right.

  4. renu

    These fellows have hoodwinked everybody using their power. Can this kind of thing be allowed or is this Yahapalanaya Government going to take stern action against Rajapakse and the Clan. They have to account for the money invested

  5. Don

    “Horungeth horu Cambahoru” If this happened in UK they all will be in jail for Life.

  6. Jake Appuhamy

    Lies, Lies and Lies. This Welvita fellow thinks he has succeeded in spinning the facts about Carlton very well. But I believe his days in the prison is not far away. He may have conned his way into High places of the nation. He and Alibaba’s family may even succeed evading justice within the present inept judicial system, However, trust my dear fellow readers this Alibaba’s family and his cohorts will never escape from the appropriate verdict of the “PEOPLES COURT”.

  7. daggy

    Aside what has been done or taken place, eager for vengence against the rajapakshe family, Nirmala is tripping in her own vomit.

    OK…. exposed. When was it exposed? What since then?
    Nirmala kanangara after any award??????

    Wonder whether there were any suicode boms on the way Nirmala had to experience on her way to work?????
    Whether she and her family go to work in different vehicles?

    Wonder whether there is any foreign service appointment in the horizen?

  8. sunimal

    The most corrupt past president of Sri lanka must face justice,please do not allow this paraya to escape law and Justice

  9. mr Rajapaska from the you lost the election you have ask to came for bribe department scams and corruption you and your family. the attorney general department same like last regime. why not take action you have to face punishment by the judicial .remove from parliament rest of the life.

  10. Yasin

    There are countless numbers of persons like Sajin Vas Gunawardene whoare the avatars of MR & Co. and they were all involved in varied business activities on behalf of their Master.
    So what about it ?. Even if a dozen Sajin Vas’s revealed the facts behind the
    deals, what are u going to do about ?
    Write what you want but please remember that VVIP’s of the past are well protected by none other than our leader of the nation………. My3……………………….
    the Champion of Yahapalanaya and enemy of nepotism.

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