Mahindananda ‘Lands’ Himself In Big Trouble
- Houses, lands amassed by ex Minister and family results in legal action under Money Laundering Act
by Nirmala Kannangara
Following the arrest of Navy Lieutenant Yoshitha Rajapaksa on charges of money laundering, it is learnt that several other bigwigs of the former Rajapaksa regime are now on the list waiting to join him in prison for their alleged involvement in money laundering.
One of these is former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage who is accused of a string of frauds reportedly committed from the time he became Health Minister in the Central Provincial Council in 1995 and later after entering parliament in 2000. The astonishing facts and staggering figures of corruption had first been revealed by none other than his wife who claimed compensation of Rs 500 million in a complaint lodged in the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption in 2013. However, the then Commission led by Justice Jagath Balapatabendi, a Rajapaksa lackey, never initiated an investigation against Aluthgamage as he was a confidant of the then President.
Highly reliable inside sources from the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) who wished to remain anonymous said that action had been taken to file legal action against Aluthgamage under the Money Laundering Act as there is substantial evidence against him.
Under the Money Laundering Act, a ‘B’ report has been submitted to the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court (Case No: B 22467/ 01/ 2015) against Aluthgamage. According to the FCID sources, Aluthgamage had been accused of purchasing a land of 20.85 perches at 66, Kuruppu Road, Borella for Rs 15 million although the value of the land stated in the deed was Rs 10 million. Aluthgamage and his wife allegedly own equal shares of this property.
Another 3.5 perch land had been purchased under Aluthgamage and his wife’s names for Rs 392,000 at 309 B, George E de Silva Mawatha, Kandy, and another 12 perch land at the same address for Rs 7.8 lakhs. Under the same address in Kandy another 18.3 perches had been bought for Rs 1 million.
Another property at 15/ 1, Chandra Wettasinghe Mawatha, Koswatte, Nawala, Rajagiriya had been purchased by Aluthgamage under his wife’s name. Although in the deed the value of this land is given as Rs 11 million for 15.57 perches, the transaction had allegedly been done for Rs 27 million.
A property at 15/ 31A, 3rd Lane, Chandra Wettasinghe Mawatha, Koswatte, Nawala, Rajagiriya has allegedly been bought for Rs 16.672 million, but the value of the property had been given as Rs 8.775 million in the deed. This property had been purchased under Aluthgamage’s wife and son’s names.
A house at No. 153 9/2 at Trillium Residencies had been purchased for Rs 28.5 million under Aluthgamage’s wife’s name while the property at 70/ 3/ 1, Kinsey Road, Colombo 7 had been purchased by the former Minister for Rs 27 million.
Aluthgamage, meanwhile, has stated that his brother, Wijeyananda Aluthgamage who is living in Japan had spent Sterling Pounds 320,000 to purchase a house under the names of his brother and sister-in-law. The former Minister has said that a bank account had been opened by them at the Singapore branch of a leading bank, depositing US$ 5.5 lakhs to facilitate the former Minister’s son who is doing his higher education in UK but had later withdrawn the money. When Aluthgamage’s brother had been questioned, he had stated that he purchased the house in the UK on the request of his brother – the former Minister, and he had obtained money from one of his friends to open the bank account in Singapore. He has promised the FCID he would furnish all details of his properties in Japan for further investigation.
According to investigations carried out, Aluthgamage has allegedly bought assets to the value of over Rs 90 million in his wife’s name. When he was questioned in 2013 regarding this and how he came to possess such a large amount of money since he had been a collecting officer at an insurance company in 1987 receiving a nominal salary until he entered politics, the former Minister had said that of the said money he had made Rs 50 million from selling his vehicle permits. According to him, from the time he entered parliament, up to 2013, he had received five vehicle permits which had been sold for Rs 50 million.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a legal expert from Kandy questioned how Aluthgamage could claim he had sold the vehicle permits he had received from the time he entered parliament when it was only the 2013 budget that allowed permit holders to sell their permits which had been prohibited earlier.
“This shows that the former Minister had sold his vehicle permits illegally by defrauding government taxes. All the assets he had declared were under his wife’s name. The CID is now carrying out investigations to find out what assets are in Aluthgamage’s name,” he said. He further said that while Aluthgamage was working for an insurance company in Kegalle, his wife had been working at Singer Sri Lanka in Kuliyapitiya.
“That was how they started their lives although they have amassed wealth after entering politics. It was Aluthgamage’s brother who lives in Japan that spent for his election for the Central Provincial Council. After he became the Provincial Health Minister he is alleged to have helped multinational companies to obtain tenders and that was how he started to accumulate wealth.”
Meanwhile, parliamentarian Ananda Aluthgamage told The Sunday Leader that he is surprised as to how Mahindananda Aluthgamage who is his first cousin is now claiming that his parents had cardamom estates and that he inherited wealth from his ancestors.
“Mahindananda can fool the people in other parts of the country but not those who are in Nawalapitiya and Gampola. His father who was my uncle was a politician and his mother was a teacher who led dignified lives not like Mahindananda. They did not have estates as to how he is now claiming and whatever the wealth Mahindananda now possess was bought from the money he ‘earned’ after entering into politics. As he is always claiming that he inherited wealth I challenged him to show the people whether he owned two acres of land by the time he entered into politics. If he proves I am wrong, I will resign from my parliamentary seat the same moment,” Ananda Aluthgamage said.
He further queried as to why Mahindananda worked at The Finance Company for a salary of Rs.1,200 and his wife for a Rs. 200 salary if he inherited such a large wealth from his parents.
“It is only the Muslim traders in Nawalapitiya and Gampola that own factories although Mahindananda claimed his father had a factory. Since he did not inherit such a wealth, it is up to the FCID to find out as to from where he got money to pay his wife Rs. 500 million as a divorce settlement. If proper investigations are carried out, he will certainly be charged under the Money Laundering Act. His son is studying at the South Wales University in England and when he was questioned by the FCID he had said that it was his brother who gave the money to educate the son. His brother Wijayananda claimes otherwise.” Ananda Aluthgamage alleged.
Many attempts by The Sunday Leader to contact MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage for comment failed. Although a text message was sent seeking a comment, there was no reply even at the time of going to press.