The Sunday Leader

Money Laundering The CSN Way?

  • Million Dollar Question The Rajapaksas Can’t Answer

By Nirmala Kannangara

Legal action taken by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) against the Board of Directors of the Carlton Sports Network (CSN) over its failure to divulge the sources of funding that was invested in the Rajapaksa clan-managed TV network cannot be disputed, opine legal luminaries.

According to them, the FCID was in fact too late to arrest the Board of Directors of CSN on the alleged breach of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act No 05 of 2006, as there was substantial evidence to prove that CSN investments were made from monies of questionable sources.

Hence, it is alleged that this questionable money amounting to a staggering US$ 2.3 million had been earned through illegal means and money laundered in a foreign country by illegal means.
“As the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CSN, Nishantha Ranatunga and the rest including Yoshitha Rajapaksa and Rohan Weliwita have failed to divulge as to how they acquired such a magnitude of wealth to invest in CSN, it is the duty of the law enforcement authorities in the country to take legal action against the Board of Directors of CSN under the anti money laundering laws. When Yasara Abeynayake, a one-time Head of the CSN Channel was questioned by the FCID she spilled the beans on CSN, how its capital was obtained and who the unofficial ‘boss’ of this Channel is. When the FCID got all the computers and other accounts checked, the evidence they wanted to establish were found and it was based on this information, they arrested the CSN Board under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Hence why should anyone say it is a political revenge,” a Spokesman for the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said.

 

Foreign jaunts

Meanwhile, Navy Spokesman Captain Akram Alavi said that Sri Lanka Navy is conducting an inquiry on Lt. Yoshitha Rajapaksa whether Navy Act had been violated but added that the investigation had to slow down after he was arrested last week.

Till the time of his arrest there was an ongoing inquiry. We were in the process of conducting the inquiry on Rajapaksa’s foreign tours without the Navy and Defence Ministry approvals and for his involvement in politics whilst in service. This is the preliminary stage of the summary trial and if found guilty for violating the Navy Act and depending on the severity, the punishment could vary. Either he will be demoted, his rank removed, dishonourably dismissed or could be court marshaled,” the Navy Spokesman said.

When asked what action would be taken if Rajapaksa find guilty for engaging in business whilst holding office at Sri Lanka Navy, the Spokesman said it all depends on the inquiry outcome. However he said that Rajapaksa had travelled overseas on more than 70 occasions from the time he joined the Navy but had not obtained the Navy Commander’s approval for 25 trips which has led to a preliminary investigation.

Meanwhile a reliable navy official on conditions of anonymity queried as to how Lt. Yoshitha Rajapaksa’s father – Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa could say his son is happy to be in prison rather than in the custody of the Navy where according to him, his son did not receive ‘any facility’.

“Mahinda Rajapaksa loved to tell the people that as navy personnel, his son was treated the same way like his fellow sailors. This is absolutely misleading. Senior Rajapaksa can fool the general public but he cannot fool us sailors who knew the reality,” sources said.

 

Yoshitha Rajapaksa and Nishantha Ranatunga and Rohan Weliwita

Best of facilities

The source further said that Lt. Yoshitha Rajapaksa was given the best of facilities at the Navy and added as to how he ‘discharged’ the duties as a navy officer by not reporting for duty most of the time. The sources further said that it was disheartening to see a senior navy officer- a Lieutenant Commander being appointed as Personal Assistant to Lt. Yoshitha Rajapaksa who was one rank below the Lt. Commander.

“Mahinda Rajapaksa is now talking as if he has forgotten everything. He brought down the honour of all navy officials. We as navy officers would like to ask the Kurunegala District UPFA MP as to who gave permission to Yoshitha to use a chalet in Trincomalee instead of staying with his fellow navy staff at the camp? Didn’t his father know this nor gave instructions to the Navy to provide his son the best of facilities? Who wanted the navy to appoint a Commodore to look into Yoshitha’s requirements whilst he was on training? Who gave permission to Yoshitha to use a separate navy vehicle and a driver?  Who gave permission to the Navy to appoint a Lt. Commander as Yoshitha’s personal assistant? Can Mahinda Rajapaksa tell the people as to whether his son took any active part in the war and whether he served in the operational areas during his regime or allowed the Lt. Son to be overseas or in the High Security Zones surrounded by the Presidential Security officers?” Navy sources queried.

Meanwhile, highly reliable sources from the Welikada Prison said how the five CSN officials were trying to get themselves admitted to the Prison Hospital but were not permitted.

 

Prison Hospital denied

“Up to now they were denied of their request but I don’t know as to what would happen in the next few days,” the sources said on condition of anonymity.

Although the CSN had an initial capital of Rs. 7 million that had been accounted for, the million dollar question is as to how they obtained US $ 2.3 million to invest in this TV network which now appears to have come from overseas. It led the team of investigators to come to the conclusion that the CSN was involved in money laundering.

 

Multiple laws violated?

Further investigations are now underway to ascertain whether the suspects had violated multiple laws including the Customs Ordinance No. 17 of 1869, the Penal Code (No. 2 of 1883) by engaging in creating forged documents, criminal breach of trust, criminal misappropriation and the Offences against Public Property Act (No. 12 of 1982) by engaging in the misuse of state properties.

As claimed by the Rajapaksas, if CSN was not a property owned by Yoshitha Rajapaksa, what made the former President to allow the CSN to operate an office at the Presidential Secretariat in Fort?

“After the defeat of Rajapaksas’ we found out as to how a section of the Presidential Secretariat was used as a CSN office. Later we found so many cassettes of CSN lying at this office at the Presidential Secretariat. In addition a fleet of vehicles assigned for the Presidential Security Division (PSD) had been used for CSN work,” Presidential Media Unit said.

Initially it was said that Cosmos Technology and Cosmos Printing which is owned by one time Mahinda Rajapaksa lackey Sajin Vass Gunawardena had invested Rs 50 million each from both of his companies, another Rs.52 million by Nimal Perera, Chairman of Pan Asia Bank, Rs.25 million by Chesmy Consolidates owned by Himal Lalinda Hettiarachchi and Ranganee Hettiarachchi son and daughter of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s elder sister and the rest of the Rs.50 million on a loan obtained  from Lanka Orix Leasing Company (LOLC).

Although the Rajapaksas had shown that it was Sajin Vass, Nimal Perera, Chesmy Consolidates and the LOLC loan that had provided the funding for CSN, 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 also revealed as to how Perera had allegedly confessed to a UNP lawyer politician and Deputy Minister from Kalutara District that he had no option but to give a letter to Yoshitha Rajapaksa that he invested money in CSN in fear of white vans.

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 wife of Sajin Vass Gunawardena.

Although the Rajapaksas and their supporters claim that CSN is not linked to Yoshitha or has any connection to the Rajapaksa family, it has come to light how 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 the 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 former first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa where another alleged financial fraud is said to have taken place amounting to several millions of rupees too had been registered in the same address. Furthermore, organisations directly owned and linked to the Rajapaksa family – Carlton Pre School, Carlton Sports Club and Namal Rajapaksa’s Tharunyata Hetak too have been registered in the same address at No: 260/12, Torrington Avenue, Colombo 5.This property of the said address was originally not owned by Rajapaksa’s but by businessman Prabath Nanayakkara. After Rajapaksa became the President of the country in 2005 this property had been bought over by Mary Laud Wickremasinghe alias Shiranthi Rajapaksa bearing National Identity Card no: 535233314V on April 5, 2013 for Rs.35 million.

 

Land misappropriated

The CSN office is located at 236/ 1, AB 15, Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, Kotte, a state land obtained for the Rajapaksa Memorial Educational, Cultural and Social Services Foundation headquarters. It was the then UNP government on December 3, 2003 by cabinet paper 10/ 8/ 1/ 602 released this land on the request of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Although the land was obtained for a social services purpose, it was later given to start the CSN Head Office.

CSN got their company registered on February ten, 2011 and commenced its operations on March seven, 2011. The Board of Directors consisted of  S. K. Dissanayaka, A. R. Fernando, Sandya Karunajeewa, Dinesh Jayawardena and Rohan Welivita. Welivita’s wife was the Personal Assistant to Shiranthi Rajapaksa at that time. Later Nishantha Ranatunga, the then secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket became CSN’s CEO.  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 on unfair terms was a great loss to the institution.

“When the bids were called by Sri Lanka Cricket for TV rights to telecast all cricket matches played locally or internationally from 2012 to 2015, CSN was the only channel that presented bids for the rights. When SLRC paid Rs.143 million to broadcast 2011 Cricket World Cup but made revenue to the amount of Rs.556 million, the Sri Lanka Cricket (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 during matches,” reliable SLRC sources who wished to remain anonymous told The Sunday Leader.

According to sources, although the government gave priority to state-owned media institution, after CSN was incorporated under the Rajapaksa regime the Cabinet had reportedly decided in 2011 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 in awarding this right to CSN as no other TV channel had  send their bids but the SLC had to go through the past records, the performance of the bidder, its financial viability and audited accounts of the bidder before awarding such a critical 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, then SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunge who was also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CSN offered the contract to a channel that had not even completed one year in business as Ranatunge was working for them,” sources alleged.

 

Navy bears CSN costs

Sources further said how the SLRC has given its transmission antenna at Karagahatenna and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) tower at Deniyaya free of charge to CSN to telecast and broadcast its programmes. In addition they have erected their highest tower in close proximity to SLRC tower in Piduruthalagala and the CSN transmission station is within Sri Lanka Navy premises at Piduruthalagala. It was the Navy that had allegedly operated the station even after the fall of Rajapaksa regime. Earlier during the Rajapaksa administration, it was the Navy that had allegedly paid the electricity bill of this transmitting station but we are not aware as to whether the Navy still bears the electricity costs,” sources alleged.According to sources, CSN imported a satellite equipped Benz vehicle in the run up to the 2015 Presidential Election in order to telecast Rajapaksa’s election meetings live on TV.

“They also own an Outside Broadcast (OB) bus which cost between Rs 300- 400 million which was later found at a warehouse at Narahenpita together with a helicopter soon after the presidential election. If the Rajapaksas claim that they do not own CSN, then who are its true owners? These are all funded with black money and if found to be so they have to be charged under the Money Laundering Act,” sources added.

 

No answer from Namal

All attempt made to contact Hambantota District UPFA, MP, Namal Rajapaksa for a comment on CSN and his brother Yoshitha Rajapaksa’s involvement in CSN, failed as he did not answer the calls.

 

 

 

7 Comments for “Money Laundering The CSN Way?”

  1. vithura

    Thank you Sunday Leader for publishing the detail account of the CSN scam orchestrated by the Rajapaksa clan.

  2. Lima

    DO NOT WASTE TIME WRITING NOTES ON PAPPERS AND GIVING PROMINENCE TO THE MASS MURDERERS / MASS ROBBER FAMILY AND THEIR CLAN . REMOVE ALL OF THEM FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH. IF THESE MURDERERS / ROBBER FAMILY WOULD HAVE BEEN REMOVED IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE PRES ELECTION ON JAN 2015 , NOW SRI LANKA WOULD BE PEACEFUL. PRES SIRISENA DID THE MISTAKE BY NOT REMOVING THE WHOLE TYRANY FAMILY FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH

    • Podi vija

      Dead set bor, whip out the lot. Butelander murderers, JVP killers and throw in in the UNP street killers in the same lot. Then we can have a new lot. MR learnt the art of killing by the champions of killers the JVP and UNP.

  3. Sima

    MR2- Bring in the $$$ no questions asked.
    Ravi K did not officially try money laundering without
    the previous governments successful trials.

    Public pastime like the gladiators – bring the guy down now that he has fallen from horse.

  4. Kingsly

    It is crystal clear that TONS of evidence as well as common knowledge make them guilty to the core. Shame on MR for sheding crocodile tears as he is guilty for the calamity of his son as he had the authority to put a stop but sadly may have encouraged them as he had done through out his regime. MR and Namal claim to be ‘lawyers’ but for them law of the land did not matter as they thought they are the law. Another big reason to believe that they are bogus lawyers.
    The amount of plundering the family has done amongst others are beyond despicable. While going round the country deceiving people of their service to the poor and hundreds of temples, what they actually have done is to plunder Lanka and its poor.
    Arjuna too should bury his head in sand. Knowing the skeletons in the cupboard of his brother, he promoted him to be in SL cricket board once again. Even when SL cricket was bankrupted by stupid spends on Hambantota stadium etc, he has plundered SL cricket board of further hundreds of millions through Carlton connection!!!! Even if they escape long term prison, such criminals should never be allowed even to use a toilet in a cricket ground!!!!

  5. Udarath

    US$ 2.3 million is very big deal

  6. Very interesting article. Thank you, Sundayleader

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