News

Politics

Focus

Issues

Editorial

Interviews

Insight

Review

Sports

Business

Arts

Letters

Nutshell

Now

Fashion

Archives

29th October, 2006  Volume 13, Issue 16

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

Spotlight

The gory story caught on camera

Blackmail, threats and videotape -Part II 

By Sonali Samarasinghe

Last Sunday this newspaper exclusively broke the inside story behind the crossover of 21 CMC councillors and gave our readers details of a tape in our.....

More....


 More Spotlight

> Seagull's flight of fraud and how it rooked the poor of millions

> Sajin's  budget airline gamble at public expense

> Dhinakaran's April prophesies come true...


The gory story caught on camera

Blackmail, threats and videotape -Part II  

President was scared his role will come out, says Rajendran

If I am killed Pastor Daniel is responsible

President said to put my daughter as Mayor

I worshipped the

President and told him I don't want any of that

President said I also have three children and you are talking like this

I was forced to sign documents

They asked me to bring my wife and children

I threatened to jump out of the Taj Samudra

Mervyn Silva, Sirisena Cooray, Rajendran and (inset) document of   The MoU signed between Cooray and Rajendran on May 17, 2006 and Rajendran appoints Stanley Jansz by letter to the Elections Department but later withdraws and appoints himself


By Sonali Samarasinghe

Last Sunday this newspaper exclusively broke the inside story behind the crossover of 21 CMC councillors and gave our readers details of a tape in our possession.

Today as promised we publish below the relevant excerpts of the video taped conversation between UNP Mayoral Candidate, Sirisena Cooray and Deputy Mayor Annapillai Rajendran of the Independent Group III also known as the Spectacle Group.

According to Rajendran the mass exodus to SLFP ranks was founded on a gory mess of threats, drugs, kidnappings and foul betrayal. Even the highest in the land were said to be involved in some of the events leading up to this game of intrigue, while it was the modern day andare and Deputy Labour Minister,  Mervyn Silva, together with his  longtime buddy, Lal Peiris alias Kudu Lal who girded their loins and got into the bog to make the mass crossover a reality. However according to Rajendran it was President Mahinda Percy Rajapakse who orchestrated the deal.

In a nutshell that story was this.

Earlier in May this year the UNP nomination list was rejected by the Department of Elections on a technicality. To overcome this difficulty and still be able to contest the sure fire election, the UNP agreed on a modus operandi with the Spectacle Group and later signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 17, 2006 between UNP Mayoral Candidate Sirisena Cooray and Leader of the Independent Group III (Spectacle Group) Annapillai K.M.S.Rajendran.

The UNP then rigorously and successfully campaigned under the slogan, 'a vote for the spectacle is a vote for the UNP' and the Spectacle Group won the election securing 23 seats in the council.

However after nearly five months of enjoying the fruits of UNP labour and in total contravention of the signed agreement, Mayor Uvais Mohamed Imtiyaz, Deputy Mayor Annapillai K.M.S.Rajendran and 18 others from the Independent Group III that won 23 seats at the CMC together with Lal Peiris alias Kudu Lal the Leader of Independent Group II with one seat in the CMC took up membership of the SLFP on October 17. (See last week's The Sunday Leader for details).

The gory events that followed the nomination fiasco confused even those playing the dirty game with members of the Spectacle Group being kidnapped or mysteriously going missing at crucial stages in the game in the immediate aftermath of the election on May 20, 2006.

The upshot of it all was that Rajendran who had agreed with the UNP candidate to nominate one Stanley Jansz as deputy mayor as per the MoU went underground for whatever reason and on resurfacing was to immediately fire a letter to the Elections Secretariat nominating himself and finally being appointed the deputy mayor instead.

Stanley Jansz has challenged this subsequent appointment by Rajendran and the matter is now before courts.

Threats, lies and video tape

Be that as it may, now The Sunday Leader is in exclusive possession of video footage where Rajendran himself makes startling revelations of how he was kidnapped and by whom. In a conversation he had with Sirisena Cooray after the dust had subsided for a space, Rajendran reveals all as he describes the threat he was facing and the fear in his heart and the times he wanted to commit suicide.

He says that Mervyn Silva and his goons kidnapped him on two occasions; first offering him trips abroad and the post of commissioner and on the second occasion threatening him and his children in order to get him to support the UPFA so that the government could take control of the council.

Here are excerpts as promised.

Sirisena Cooray (C): Now this is all I want. You went there no. Earlier was there a talk about Mr. Karu Jayasuriya telling you to come there? I don't know that.

Rajendran (R): Yes. I also don't know that.

C: I don't know. This one said there he went there then I said okay then you come here. I didn't know Mr. Karu Jayasuriya had asked you to come. That's a different story. But what did you later talk with the Leader?

R: I told him the story and said everyday I will do for our Mr. Cooray. But this is what happened. Then I said that even Mr. Asath Sally was involved in this sir. Then you know what happened sir. Aney sir I am afraid I will be killed, that is why I am hiding some facts. At 9.10 some people with weapons came to my home and took me away. I told the home folk.

C: Who came?

R: Mervyn Silva's crowd. It is Kudu Lal, Prince etcetera that came sir. I wept before the leader and said please don't publicise this incident.

C: Yes it won't be good no.

R: Later sir, two days earlier Cyril spoke to me sir.

C: Who is Cyril?

R: Cyril is Sudda's Massina. Cyril is in London. There is a Pastor Daniel - a dark fellow here. Now he has been sidelined. Nobody knows my number. But somehow Pastor Daniel had given it to Cyril. Cyril called and asked me if I need money. He said we will all give. He said you give this to the UPFA (Podu Peramuna). I told give me 24 hours. I said even if I am killed I will not go back on my word.  I then told my family about it. I said if I am killed it is through Daniel Pastor that it has leaked and I also told Mendis Pastor. I had given this number to only four people. This case came up sir when Prince and crowd came and went here and there and burnt churches belonging to the pastors.

When this problem came up after the election some persons were hit and it is relating to that case that Pastor Daniel said that he had worked it through Cyril. Then it immediately clicked to me and I told my wife if I am killed then Pastor Daniel must be responsible. He said no, no, I did not give the number. But I said I gave my number only to four people and reminded him that he himself has said he had contact with Cyril. He said no... anyway 24 hours went by I said I want to stay here I won't do it and then they took me away at 9.10.

C: Now I am talking ...

R: I will tell everything about this incident sir. They took me behind where a big vehicle was parked, also there were jeeps. There was a white car with tinted glass. I told my home folk these were people I knew. Then we went to Mervyn Silva's. There at the house Vajira Abeygunawardena was talking.

C: To whom?

R: Sir he was talking to Mervyn Silva. He spoke and said now let's go. Then they took me to meet the President.

C: Who took you?

R: Minister Mervyn Silva took me. Also Kudu Lal and about five people. Immediately we were taken in and he spoke and said you are the third citizen in this country. Do you know what the mayoralty means? I promise you sir please don't harass me. I don't go more than that. From here and there the President did not tell me directly. But later they took me away then after bringing me back the home people...

C: So the President didn't tell you anything?

R: The President would be afraid that his part in this would come out into the open. Therefore these people told me on the way back we will give you the chairmanship. You can go abroad. We will give you everything. I said I don't want anything. I can't break promises. Then they brought me home. Later my family was ready to take it. Then only I called you sir. I said I need to go to the toilet. I am a diabetic. Later they took my younger brother and myself.

C: That is at 12.30 in the night?

R: Yes, yes. Sir then they brought me and somehow took us to the Taj Hotel. At that time about 25-30 persons were around. I was on the 4/7th floor. They kept me on the 4th or 7th floor sir and forced me to sign documents. I know that after 30th it is not valid. Later the President told me you put it for your daughter. Put your daughter as the next mayor.

C: Who is telling you all this?

R: The President. You have a history. I said I don't want any of that sir and worshipped and said it. I don't have such expectations I said. Then he said I also have three children and you are talking like this. How can we talk to a man like this? Later they gave two coloured sarongs for my brother and myself. Then all of them surrounded me and then I spoke to the commissioner but the commissioner realised that I was talking to him through fear. But I said accept it sir, accept it. Then they gave me a 078 number as well saying to talk to my home. When I spoke suddenly about 3-4 calls were received to this number. Then I said somehow put it to my home I am going to jump from the Taj Samudra. Then I said I had a stomach upset. I am a diabetic. Now calls have been taken on the phone and there are different numbers no. So when they started drinking I pretended to go to the toilet and kept going in and out of the toilet. Then I went to the bathroom and took one call to Mani Pastor and then cut it off. I came back after cutting it. Then after about two hours I took a call home and again cut it. Anyway I went off after crying. Then they said it was to save me and the next day in the morning they were now getting ready to take me to courts. To get an injunction for our thing. Really sir I got a chest pain. Forgive me sir at that time I ...

C: No no. That is okay. Now I can understand what you went through.

 R: After that sir then these people sir.

C: I thought all this time you were lying. No it is true it is true!

R: Then I said I can' t go against my word. If you want you kill me. I won't do these things. Then they said we can't thrash him either as we need to keep him in good health. By now I am not eating or doing anything. I gave information saying I don't know and it is a wrong number. From police also there is nothing.. later they said they will bring the lawyers . But lawyers didn't come. Later Mervyn Silva came. He came about 3-4 times to the hotel when I was there. He came to the hotel and said your.. good. I said sir for anything I will not sign anything to come to courts. I have already signed one and given. I won't come to courts. I said I will hold your feet and worship, you let me be in peace. Or I will leave politics and go somewhere. I don't want these titles. I have all daughters. Thereafter he said I will go and meet the President and come. Somehow after he met the President and came back may be the President said what this man is saying is also true. Later he said Okay you all better wait with these people and keep acting. Then I also said okay. I will support you all but I will put on an act for them. Now I need to get out of the place no. Later at 8 he said he will release me. Did not. Instead they mentioned my wife and said that woman must be shot. She is the one who spoilt everything. She is the one who went to the police and said all this. Then he said somehow telephone now and get your wife and children down here. I said now they would have all been taken by the UNP. I cannot bring them down. Then they gave me the same 078 phone they gave me in the morning and told me to call my children and get them down. Later they told me they will release me at about 10. Then at about 11 they said sharp at 12 they will send me. Then at that time our minister came and told me all right you must give us your support but you can act for the benefit of the others. I said okay sir I will help don't be afraid. Like you all I am also a UPFA man. Then after I said all this at about 1 in the night they said they will release me. But didn't. Then again a call came saying they will release. Then later they said at 8.30 they will release. Thereafter at 9.30 they came and said the UNP is having a press conference  and we were told to release you before that and they surrounded me and they put me here. Prince and them

C: Who is Prince?

R: There is a chap called Prince.

C: Ah! That ganang karaya?... contract karaya

R: All of them sir are Mervyn Silva's men. What they want to do is to make me mayor take the opportunity and finish the UNP that is why they are doing this. So I want to tell the truth I told the police, at Kadwatha  bits and pieces later the OIC said we sense that you are not telling us the truth. I said okay I will tell but please don't do anything to me. If I was to give statement I would be killed. And I related the incident later the OIC got to know.

C: Did you tell him? One person from the police has gone and said that there were no vehicles there. So I just waited. Then I thought you must be lying. So that is a different story. Now the problem we are having is to do this according to the way we agreed earlier. Now I can understand we can't do anything through the justice system. Give me the opportunity I will do it correctly. You'll will have to stay there. We will go according to the agreement we signed.

R: Now I promised them sir that the three who come in on preferences will be given. We will talk that out with Saranapala.

C: But you are there and pastor and Jayantha.

R: No, not Jayanthi sir there is a Ratnapala and a Swarnapala.

C: No. After that I saw Swarnapala you brought him later.

R: No sir we originally spoke that three of our people will go from the preference votes.

C: So they didn't come no?

R: The third person from the preferences is Swarnapala. From our whole group he has come in 8th.

C: We will somehow adjust this. This is because Swarnapala went no?

R: No. Swarnapala hasn't gone.

C: I will tell you one thing. Now there is number 1 okay who is the mayor?

R: That is Imtiyaz.

C: What is happening to him?

R: He will be removed.

C: What number is he?

R: Number one mayor. Deputy Mayor number 8.

C: So I also move out and he also moves out. You understand no. Then we put in these people. Then the problem is solved. Later we can see about this problem.

R: The other thing is sir, forgive me sir, I will hold your feet and worship you sir, sometimes I may seem stubborn? But in order to save our party... that time. they put us. They can hit us on our ear and get these things done...

C: Actually. I am not the one who took these decisions. Because I am accustomed to you I put your name. Then Karu Jayasuriya was happy to give...otherwise I will be left alone. I am also a party man no? Now we will appoint one of you anyway I will tell you by day after tomorrow. You name, never mind it's okay. Not right now.  Later appoint as Mayor. Appoint as Deputy Mayor. Okay

R: I will do anything you say sir. If any problem arises if not here I can go somewhere else I am afraid sir. I had a lot of problems due to this.

C: I know now I understand.

R: I couldn't tell the truth sir.

C: No. That you survived all this even is a great thing.

R: I don't know what they will do to me.

C: No, no. Don't do anything. There is evidence now.  You have told these things no?

R: Yes. I have told the OIC police I met the President sir. I was taken to the President's presence and we spoke. He told me to put my daughter. I am trying to save myself.

 C: Nothing will come of it. Even so do not talk about those things now.

 R: However if anything is done it will be Mervyn Silva who will do it.

 C: Do not think so far. I will shape it up. Not to do anything wrong. They are looking to even lie and see how it goes. Let us wait and see for a while. Now what I want is for you to work without breaking the promise that was made to the party.

R: No sir I will not break it.

C: That is all I want...

R: Now we can't do that no sir?

C: No. I will tell you how to do it. That is why I said we are putting Jayantha. For a little time even he is an active person and he is used to it...Now he has lost. If he was there at the start we could have put him at that time itself.

R: That's okay sir. He was the clever one.

C: I don't know about clever one. We don't want that. We are doing what the party says no. I am like that.

R: Sir I have to say something mata ottui sir?

C: I have not been told to do anything wrong. I have to look after your side and also about those.

R: Although sir when you go to the commissioner, when I tried to even call Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe on the phone the commissioner scolded me in filth. Our assistant commissioner..

C: You don't need to go there. You don't need to go for anything. They don't need you. Now I am the secretary no. So when I write they will accept. I also won't go. You also must be like that. Only when you get excited all these things happen.

R: At that time I got excited sir because I was afraid those two would not resign. At that time even Maheswaran MP called me and spoke to me strongly and did not leave me.  So for me sir, really sir about the party I felt these people may not resign voluntarily and I wanted to see it done correctly. On this sir Mr. Maheswaran called me. Actually I did not think it was something like this.

R: Sir I told the leader a true story. Sir it is going on TV that I took money... MP said to ask and to give 50,000 to each of the people resigning. So we gave a part of it. I said that But I did not take a cent. I am not joking sir now sir also must know the truth.

C: I don't know. I have not been told anything. I told you know. He has not told me anything. Really Mahroof hasn't told me. If he told somewhere else I don't know.

R: The paper has that I was given 90 lakhs sir. Am I to find fault with him?

C: No it is okay that you say. I asked him at the start then he said no. I said I don't know anything then only this talk came up but he hasn't told me.

R: He called and asked me.  I said I don't want a cent. Then he said for the members who are their to resign.

C: I wasn't told. But I don't know about the other people. I wasn't told anything about money. But that he has given money and there are cases.

R: It is because of him I came so far. My name, my vote I will give my life even and work for him.

C: I want to get some work done. No, Chandrasena also said about money. Why are these people talking like this?

R: Yes sir. Sir in the Municipal Council Act No. 10, 11 there is no provision which says that when the mayor and deputy mayor resign even the municipal commissioner is invalidated.

C: No we said first there must be a vacancy. Now for Jansz to be brought from the bottom of the list to the top there must be a vacancy no. Anyway the deputy mayor will resign no. He promised to resign. It is okay we can always reinstate him later. Because he is anyway in the list no.

R: He took a promise from me as well.

C: Yes tell me about that.

R: I said I spoke to sir and came.

C: When Ranjith comes he can resign. We will do it like that. You don't get involved in anything. I will arrange  another method for that. 


Seagull's flight of fraud and how it rooked the poor of millions

Angry Seagull employees, all victims of the massive fraud gather opposite the Mount Lavinia office, (inset) A hapless victim, police have sealed off the premises for security reasons and document of the MoU and Independent Contractor Agreement signed between the 'employee' and Seagull Softwares, payment card, A receipt given by Seagull for payment of Rs. 6,500 one slot 

By Sonali Samarasinghe

Hundreds of angry young people last week banged on a large black iron gate somewhere on Galle Road Mount Lavinia that once housed the Seagull Softwares Pvt. Ltd. office and demanded justice.

Desperate Sri Lankan youngsters duped again by promises of quick cash and easy money wept bitterly even as a group of conmen now possibly half way across the globe scammed thousands of Sri Lankans  of millions within the space of 11 months. 

The quickness of the operation has shocked the Central Bank Investigations Unit, the Criminal Investigations Department and the Mount Lavinia Police as sleuths try to track down six persons including two Indian nationals. 

Scores of victims rushed to the Mount Lavinia police no sooner they realised they were not receiving their payments and by Thursday (26) the police had already sealed the premises as a security measure. Investigators are likening the scam to the infamous pyramid schemes that also target vulnerable young people luring them with the hope of quick and easy money.

Attractive terms

The racket which involves investing in slots and then raking in a fixed monthly sum for a period of 15 months had attracted not only the poorer segment of society but also hundreds of big time businessmen.

Some businessmen who claimed they have invested upto Rs. 20 million are flummoxed at their own gullibility. The operators had claimed the company was a Business Process Out Sourcing BPO or IT enabled Services (ITES) operation.

Nations Trust

What is even more alarming is that the fraudsters had opened an account, No. 023108000370 in the name of S.P. Wijayakumar of 14/10A Elvitigala Mawatha, Colombo 8,  at the Nations Trust Bank in Dehiwela and had advised all their victims to open individual accounts at NTB Dehiwela as well in order for their earnings to be deposited.

Victims who gathered at No.237/2, Galle Road Mount Lavinia to protest, told this newspaper the Nations Trust Bank( NTB) had even opened up a desk inside the Seagull Software office in order to facilitate  a quicker and more convenient service for the clients.

It is learnt that the NTB has now closed the account of Wijayakumar having realised the fraud. While Officers at Nations Trust Bank remained tight lipped on the issue, Central Bank sources told The Sunday Leader that such an eventuality proves the absolute importance of continued due  diligence in the case of all customers.

Angry Seagull members have now set up a website of support and urge all members to hand over a letter to the Criminal Investigations Department. They have now agreed to form a close knit group and have decided to have their first meeting at 9.30 a.m on Monday (30) near the now closed Seagull Software office in order to create awareness about this scam.

Even though the Seagull office was located in Mount Lavinia there were many persons who sub contracted the slots (see box) and offices sprung up all over the country  and its suburbs. Victims claim the sub contracting offices were springing up in Slave Island, Kirulapone, Kottawa and Maya Towers among other places.

What is Seagull Softwares?

The company Seagull Software Pvt. Ltd. was duly registered on January 21, 2006 having its registered office at 237/2 Galle Road Mount Lavinia, which is a premises they had rented out.

The two shareholder directors were Suppayya Pille Vijekumar, a 42 year old businessman carrying an ID card No.641362964 which was suspected to be a forgery. The other director was Gurunathan Kalaivani described as a computer engineer, both of No.14/10A Elvitigala Mawatha, an address which when The Sunday Leader investigated turned out to be in a tiny dark back alley where neighbours claimed there in fact were two people, the man known as Wijaykumar and a woman going by the name of Kalaivani.

However this newspaper was unable to meet the couple. Authorities suspect that their names may have been used by the fraudsters without their knowledge but investigations are continuing.

The Secretary to the Seagull Softwares company was one Ajith Shyaminda Pallege of 6/56, Kesbewa Road, Boralesgamuwa.

While by Form 5 dated 26/01/2006, A. Bethmage an attorney at law of No. 92/1, Pragathi Mawatha, Maharagama Road, Mampe, Piliyandala was appointed director/secretary. Seagull appears to be a privately owned internet based outsourcing firm that turned out to be an internet fraud scheme.

 What is a slot?

The scam was simple. The company sold slots at Rs.6,500 each and then assigned certain tasks which required a maximum of 10-15 minutes at the internet per day except weekends and public holidays. For this slot you would receive Rs. 4000 per month up to 15 months .Therefore your initial investment of Rs. 6,500 is covered with profit in two months. From then on, its profit all the way. Too good to be true? You betchcha . 

The process therefore requires access to internet once everyday, that's to log-in to SeagullSoftwares.com and to obtain the tasks for the day. The Seagull Softwares head office automatically assigns five products (five tasks) with external web links (eg. View Sonic, Benq, Acer, Dell, HP), and the user has to prepare a specification for each product in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Products could range from cars to ladies shoes to perfumes.

The specifications were already given on the website and all it takes is a copy and paste job. Once the five product specifications are saved into five individual .xls files, the user  has to compress the files with WinZip and upload them back to the Seagull Softwares.com data-base.

It's a 5 to 10 minutes job. Life is not that easy.

Each account (log-in) consist five tasks/products a day and a registration fee of Rs.6500 should be paid to Seagull Softwares before this easy 'work from home' job begins and at the end of the month, each user gets a paycheck of Rs. 4000. Basically, the user can cover the Rs. 6500 he or she spent on the registration with the second paycheck.

Unlimited accounts

What is more each user can have unlimited accounts with SeagullSoftwares.com, depending how much time the user can spare sitting in front of the PC everyday. Enterprising persons immediately bought 3000 to 4000 slots at Rs. 6500 each and subcontracted to others.

Some sub contractors made it a business by setting up offices while some individual businessman, retirees and house wives  engaged friends and relatives to the task.

How do you get hooked?

The state media carried repeated advertisements calling for people to work from home. For  one gentleman it seemed like the perfect job for a retired man. 'I would go and meet one Rajkumar or Dominic and there were other girls working there as well who would help the Seagull members,' he said.

Initially in order to win the confidence of the people the operators acted admirably and made payments on time. It was only in October that the payments stopped and it was only then the scam was discovered.

Documentation

Not  only that the operators would provide documentation in order to gain one's confidence as well and even provided customers with a contract, receipts, and payment cards.

When this newspaper asked one victim whether he hadn't realised the futility of what he was doing and whether he had not asked them how they made profits out of this, he replied that the operators had told him they were working for an international firm in Canada and they were creating a data base to make it easy for sellers and buyers to access products.

One victim's mother, Chandra said 'One must question what kind of business has to ask its own employees for money to continue the business.'  Another interjected 'these pyramid schemes and quick money schemes are ruining our children who are too impatient to make a honest living on a salary.'

Another said that it was the fact that Nations Trust Bank had been the bankers that gave them the confidence to invest.

Said one young girl, "we heard about this through our friends. We trusted them and so we don't go into too many details as you take your friend's word for it."

 And like pyramid schemes the seagull system depended heavily on a network of friends and relatives even though  initially the scheme was advertised.

Similar to pyramid scheme

However the Central Bank is the regulator of all other banks and has to be itself vigilant to protect the country from these scams which are increasing in number and luring the innocent.

While the present case seems like a pure and simple scam one is reminded of the case of the Red Headed League which offered jobs to red heads at a handsome sum per week for merely copying out the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It was one of the more interesting scams Sherlock Holmes cracked. Perhaps this Wijaykumar saw a certain gullibility in the Sri Lankan people borne out of desperation due to a burdensome cost of living and a bleak future. Elementary m'dear Kalaivani, let's scam them!


New vistas for Mahinda's unofficial procurement clerk

Sajin's  budget airline gamble at public expense

Shops for aircraft in Dubai

Moves to undercut SriLankan and Emirates

HNB hires private sleuths to track down Sajin for debt recovery

Mangala undercut as Aviation Minister by Sajin

Harry J cast aside

By Sonali Samarasinghe

In a move that is sure to shake already flagging investor confidence the government egged on by notorious wheeler dealers and con men close to President Mahinda Rajapakse have decided to start a low budget airline despite the Sri Lankan Airlines agreement with Emirates only due to come up for renewal in March 2008.

This latest blow comes in the wake of another hit to the national carrier with the government advertising for expressions of interest to lease out ground handling to a third party. This would severely affect SriLankan airlines which is now in charge of the ground handling themselves.

Airline sources said in a composite group there is the airline, catering, ground handling and cargo. However the existence of an airline depends heavily on revenue from ground handling and catering support units of the composite.

Sajin de Vass Gunawardena and Letter sent by HNB to private investigators to track down Sajin and his assets

Coordinating secy.

To make matters worse the chief executive officer of this government owned no frills airline is to be none other than the infamous Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, whose suitability for the job is nothing more than his being the Coordinating Secretary to President Mahinda Rajapakse and an alleged habitual fraudster and jail bird. But more on that below. (Please also see The Sunday Leader of July 2).

Sajin Vass Gunawardena is just crawling out from under a huge cloud involving a consignment of Land Rovers and BMWs bought by the government and for which Sajin Vass acts as the chief procurement officer on behalf of Rajapakse and the state.

The proposed airline scheduled to commence operations on Independence Day next year, is to be 100 percent government owned. However the project has been frowned upon by an irate Aviation Minister Mangala Samaraweera who has been increasingly cast aside by Rajapakse due to his affiliation with former President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Meeting

The Aviation Ministry nevertheless last month had a meeting with Director General, Civil Aviation H. M.C. Nimalsiri, Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Minister of Aviation Mangala Samaraweera and four others  on the launching of this new budget airline.

Samaraweera has been many a time humiliated by Rajapakse who prefers to bypass protocol and the Foreign Ministry all together and deal through his dubious Man Friday Sajin Vass.

One would recall the diplomatic embarrasment all round when Sajin tried to broker a meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Rajapakse and it was left to the British Foreign Office  - sticklers for protocol, to call the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry and inquire about it- much to the chagrin of Sajin Vass and Rajapase who had wanted to keep the meeting under wraps.

It was in fact Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal and Sajin Vaas who travelled to Ireland and arranged the visit of the chief negotiator for Sinn Fein Martin Mcguinness, who then embarrassed the government in general and Samaraweera in particular who had personally pushed for it as foreign minister, by calling the EU ban a 'huge mistake.'

Death blow

Meanwhile the decision comes even as the national carrier is reeling under a militarised environment and is trying to survive despite the government's relentless pursuit of war. Some believe the move may even be a scare tactic by the notorious Sajin to get the Maktoums to re negotiate a higher price for an extension of the Emirates privatisation agreement and much more.

While names for the airline are still being looked at, one name that kept coming up was Ruhunu Air and another was Sri Lanka Air.

Harry sidelined

What is also ironic is that Chairman SriLankan Airlines - the all powerful Harry Jayawardena has been sidelined by Rajapakse in favour of a young pup with a dubious record. While Harry Jay has desperately tried to keep his peace with Rajapakse for which he was earlier well rewarded by being appointed chairman of the national carrier, Harry is now a dejected man. It was Harry Jayawardena who personally brought up the airline before its privatisation in 1998.

However Sajin Vass has an axe to grind with Jayawardena. While the young Sajin may perhaps be able to hide behind President Rajapakse to shield himself from the law, Harry Jay's Hatton National Bank would have none of it.

Sajin Vass Gunwardena as one of the directors of the company called Tapes International Pvt. Ltd. defrauded the bank and the bank filed CHC (Civil) case No. 13/98/1 against the company and the two directors Sajin and one Ms. Charini De Silva, his ex-wife. Judgement was entered in favour of the bank for recovery of all outstanding monies but Sajin did not comply with the judgment.

Writ

Thereafter a writ was issued against him and his ex-wife Charini. Even the writ could not be executed funnily enough due to non availability of information with regard to the assets and whereabouts of the defendants.

On July 20, 2006 the Hatton National Bank was compelled to use the professional services of a sleuthing company in order to trace the whereabouts/assets of Sajin Vass Gunawardena and sent them a letter detailing the case by registered post.

The name of the security company is withheld by this newspaper. (See elsewhere on this page for letter HNB sent to the security firm.)

According to this letter the last known address of Sajin Vass was 4/1, 1st Lane, Egodawatte Road, Boralesgamuwa. Funnily enough Sajin is one of the most visible of Rajapakse's henchmen accompanying the President everywhere and taking control of the peace process. Even as you read this article Sajin Vass is at the Verembe Conference Centre in Geneva bossing such senior diplomats as SCOPP Chief Palitha Kohona who bow deferentially to his dictates.

When he is not in Geneva, London or Dubai negotiating a deal, all one has to do to find him would be to take a casual visit to Temple Trees. But it is this very brashness and audacity that has helped him survive.

Grudge against Harry

But Vass Gunawardena may not like Harry Jayawardena for another reason. His half brother, Manoj Vass Gunawardena is the head of sales at SriLankan airlines. Life was not always so rosy for Manoj. It was in fact Harry Jay when he was chairman Airlanka prior to the privatisation who fired Manoj from the airline for irregular behaviour.

Sajin Vass Gunawardena and his family aside, the fact is that the tit for tat Galle naval base attack by the LTTE dealt a devastating blow to the economy, to the southern hitherto 'safe' tourism industry and to airline traffic.

It demonstrated the capacity of the Sea Tigers for covert action remains strong despite government claims of destroying naval capability, a move that will be noted by diplomatic missions when updating their travel advisories.And it creates an anxiety among foreign tourists especially during Christmas and New Year - high season.

Nevertheless the budget airline is slated to commence operations on Independence day, February 4, 2007. However if the government meant the gesture as a celebration of freedom then it has conveniently forgotten its agreement with Emirates and its commitment to the national carrier which is 51% government owned.

Just two weeks ago Sajin visited his old employer - Trico in Dubai in order to market for aircraft. He was accompanied by none other than Chandrasekara, a former chief financial officer of Airlanka who left the national airline after it was privatised by the Chandrika Kumaratunga government on April 1, 1998.

While Chandrasekera is said to be Sajin Vass Gunawardena's financial advisor, it is one Sugath Rajapakse also an ex Airlanka employee who is billed to handle the commercial aspect of this budget airline.

Sajin also went to Abudabi to shop for aircraft.

Mission to Dubai

Ironically even as Sajin and Chandrasekera were leaving on a mission to Dubai on Emirates, who should be on the same flight but a worried Sri Lankan Airlines team who were also on a different sort of mission to Dubai. Sri Lankan Airlines CEO, Peter Hill, Regional Manager Barry Brown and the rest of the management were visiting the Emirates head office to plan out survival strategy at this bleak moment in history.

Sajin and Chandrasekera were in Dubai to discuss aircraft leasing, computer systems, fuel buying etcetera. It is speculated that two floors of a popular building in Colombo have been leased out to house the offices of this new airline. Meanwhile Sajin Vass Gunawardena has told close confidants the carrier would initially service the work force in the Middle East and move on to India.

SriLankan Airlines sources say that if such an airline plying the Middle East and Indian routes were to commence especially at a time the national carrier had taken its heaviest blows due to the war it would debilitate the carrier and hit up to 40 percent of its market.

Under the open-skies policy with India, SriLankan operates some 62 flights per week from Colombo to 10 Indian destinations. Apart from India being our largest tourism trading partner, we also cater to a large number of migrant workers that travel from all parts of India to the Middle East.

Aircraft business

Meanwhile Sajin it is reliably learnt is looking for the small to medium size aircraft perhaps a maximum of 150 seats which would be sufficient as the Middle East is a 3-4 hour route.

Of course negotiating such deals come with many side benefits and that is what Sajin has his sights  on, details of which will be bared in the coming weeks.

Who is this man, what does he do?

Sajin de Vass Gunawardena comes with a dubious track record dotted with remand time, fraud bureau investigations, unpaid loans and unfulfilled promises.

President Rajapakse's style of choosing his advisors and close allies become even more pertinent given that Sajin de Vass Gunawardena was refused a place by Ranil Wickremesinghe when the then prime minister was told that Sajin had a criminal track record. Wickremesinghe was to advice the young man to clear his name first.

 It was after this that Sajin went off to Dubai to work with Trico and even there allegedly fell out with the management. However by a happy coincidence he was to meet the then Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapakse who was in Dubai on a visit and young Sajin showed him around.

Rajapakse comfortable in the vernacular and a more simple way of life was rather enamoured of the well spoken young man who was both good in his English and rather spiffy on the computer. To Rajapakse this made Sajin seem like an excellent catch. "Why don't you come and work for me," the Opposition Leader invited. Sajin de Vass Gunawardena didn't have to think twice. All his life he had wanted to get into politics. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.

So much so Sajin was very involved in the lucrative Maga  Neguma projects of Rajapakse in 2005 and was even appointed the Consultant to oversee the Palaly runway rehabilitation project, the KKS breakwater project and even provided with executive authority in the decision making procedure and implementation thereof.

 Maga Neguma

While this was a project under the Maga Neguma Road Construction Equipment Ltd. he would in any event sit in by invitation at all the board of directors' meetings held at the prime minister's office on Flower Road, Colombo 7.

Sajin is the son of A. De Vass Gunawardena who was for a space after Chandrika Kumaratunga's regime took over government in 1994, the Director General of the Board of Investment. It was during his father's time at the BOI in 1995 that he got involved with the Grayline Group which at the time was considered controversial in their business dealings.

At Grayline owned by Lal  Wijeratne, as the new project development manager Sajin proved a useful tool able to have easy access to the much sought after BOI due to his father's position.

Sajin was still a young buck of 22 and was described by those who knew him then as an enthusiastic gung ho chap with a silver tongue and a smooth and slick manner.  This always fooled the gullible person into helping him with money matters.

And Sajin had one flaw. He couldn't stop borrowing money and not paying back, until the police came knocking on his door. Before long, due to various issues he parted company with Grayline.

Loan

Sajin then decided in 1994 to launch into business at the Biyagama Free Trade Zone. He set up a company called Tapes International Pvt. Ltd.

Incorporated on October 11, 1994 in order to start the company at the time he was to obtain a loan of Rs. 2.5 million from a couple, Wimalasiri and Shirani Fernando of 14, Gregory's Road, Colombo 7. A cheque was accordingly made out and one of the witnesses to the transaction was his father A. D. de Vass Gunawardena.

After a couple of months however Sajin began to default on his interest payments and the Fernandos filed action for Rs. 3.5 million inclusive of interest in the District Court of Colombo.

That apart, the subscribers to this company were of course Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, his brother Rohan de Vass Gunawardena and Charini Vilakshana de Silva of 117/18, Jaya Mw; Temple Road, Kalubowila who was his first wife.

The smooth talking Sajin is currently in his third marriage and the relevance of that is only to focus on a financial issue involving the second wife.

As at the annual return date of 14/01/1997, Sajin held the majority shares in the company while CF Venture Fund Ltd. was the only other major shareholder.

CF Venture Fund Ltd. was the finance management company that Sajin approached to finance his FTZ venture. One Hiniduma Liyanage Lakpriya Manoharan Nanayakkara who was on the board of CFVF backed his venture for approximately Rs. 2-3 million.

At the time 40% of the funding was provided by CFVF. Approximately 20% by the NDB through equity injection and the rest of the funds was provided by Sajin himself.

Siphoning funds

It was not soon after that it was discovered that he was siphoning funds from Tapes International Company account to a private bank account. He was in fact drawing out money and issuing certificates on board resolutions even though the board had never met or resolved any such money transactions.

On June 21, 1996 Sajin was to bring in his father Abeydeera De Vass Gunawardena as a director. Be that as it may, it was now discovered by the board that Sajin had allegedly claimed he had paid a sum of approximately Rs. 5 million to a construction contractor, Sarath De Costa.

By this time one of Sajin's close friends, Manoharan Nanayakkara had taken majority control of the company. But Sajin and Manoharan were to fall out. Manoharan Nanayakkara was to resign as a director of Tapes on October 29, 1996.

In January 1997 Manoharan more famously known as Mano Nanayakkara was to sell his shares in the company to a Korean company called Young An Lanka Pvt. Ltd. of Export Processing Zone Malwana, Biyagama. Thus on February 5, 1997 Choon Jo Kim, Sang Heon Lee and Hyn Jun Lee of this company were appointed as directors of Tapes.

It was on the very same day that Charini Vilakshini De Silva, daughter of former SSP Carlyle Silva resigned. Charini was of course Sajin's first wife.

Subsequently the Korean company was also to become suspicious about the financial activities of Sajin de Vass Gunawardena. They immediately prepared to bring in lawyers from the United States and to retain other legal luminaries from Sri Lanka to look after their interests at Tapes.

It was at this time that one Sharma of Indian origin was brought in to pump money to the ailing Tapes International Pvt. Ltd. Somewhere in 1999/2000 relations began to sour between Sharma and Sajin.

On a complaint made by Sharma the Fraud Bureau filed a case against Sajin in the Maligakanda Magistrate's Court. Sajin was then remanded for a period of 10 days in the Mahara remand prison.

However his father again had to rescue the young alleged habitual fraudster and pull some strings in order to place him at the Mahara prison hospital instead.

The debt recovery action filed against Gunawardena by HNB over Tapes International was won by HNB.

 It was not long after the Sharma affair that Sajin left for Dubai to work with Trico.

If this were all it would yet be sufficient. The list goes on. Please refer The Sunday Leader of July 2 for further details of President Rajapakse's blue eyed boy and coordinating secretary often entrusted with public funds, and as a delegate at the ongoing peace talks also with the future of this country.


Dhinakaran's April prophesies come true...

It was at this session that the duo from neighbouring India uttered the prophesies that, today, four months later, appear to be coming true. "There will be revolutionary changes in the political scenario in Sri Lanka. God will be raising up leaders in all parties who will be tired of having divisions among themselves," Dr. Paul said.

He further stated that new forums will be formed in the country for different groups to sit together in one accord to find ways for development in the country and there will be changes even in the political system of Sri Lanka" 

By Kumutu Amarasingham

The prediction in April  (inset) Dr. Paul Dhinakaran 
and Dr. D.G.S. Dhinakaran

In the April 9 issue of The Sunday Leader, features editor Ranee Mohamed wrote an article on two reverred visitors to Sri Lanka and their prophesies on the country. That it would echo so fortuitously months later was something she would not have considered humanly possible.

Then again, the working and wonders claimed here are not the workings of man. They are, undoubtedly, in the sphere of the divine.

Even for someone practically obsessed with all things spiritual, the only thing that initially struck about Dr. D. G. S. Dhinakaran and his son Dr. Paul Dhinakaran's visit to Sri Lanka last April were the immense banners and calls from numerous Christian friends to come and hear him out. Calls that, for whatever reason, went unheeded.

Questions

To write about prophesies at a time when one's own heart is filled with questions that literally, only 'God' can answer - when one is not sure - spiritually and otherwise, of the road to take, is a trying task to say the least.

But like all things, when the order comes from above (in this case the human, institutional 'above') it must be done. In the end, it proved a task well worth performing - if for no other reason than to watch the sheer bliss and the spiritual ecstasy experienced by the participants of the event.

It was only upon watching a video of Dr. Paul preaching and praying that his passion, total and humbling religious zeal and compassion towards people became apparent. This man was undoubtedly born to do what he has been doing for the past few years.

Many were the testimonials of the healings and miracles that had taken place as a result of his prayer - including stories of the blind seeing, deaf hearing and crippled walking. Indeed one of the journalists who went to write an article managed to avoid an operation that had been scheduled for her, after personally receiving their prayer and blessings. The cause for operating had, according to this lady, miraculously disappeared.

Life stories

That aside, the life-stories of the father-son duo were in themselves amazing. The senior Dr. Dhinakaran had been snatched from the throes of depression and suicide, caused by poverty and want, to the heights of peace and prosperity by a simple prayer.

While awaiting the train at the railway crossing, he was stopped by a policeman who was a relative, taken aside and asked to pray. Four hours of crying and prayer later, his life changed forever.

His son Dr. Paul, a wayward youth by his own admission, and thoroughly confused, was at himself - with the choice of the paths to heaven or hell open before him. He saw Jesus, spoke to him for three hours, and has since been a changed, motivated, extremely enterprising and successful man with a deep purpose.

A  part of the ministry known as Jesus Calls Ministries, Dr. Dhinakaran and his son gave Sri Lanka and its people their love and compassion in full measure. They called out to God to bless people, heal them and take away their worries. They had a day of prayer and fasting, together with the sea of faces that had gathered at the BMICH, to pray for Sri Lanka.

Prophesies coming true

It was at this session that the duo from neighbouring India uttered the prophesies that, today, four months later, appear to be coming true.

"There will be revolutionary changes in the political scenario in Sri Lanka. God will be raising up leaders in all parties who will be tired of having divisions among themselves," Dr. Paul said.

He further stated that "new forums will be formed in the country for different groups to sit together in one accord to find ways for development in the country and there will be changes even in the political system of Sri Lanka."

"When this comes about, there will be great oneness in the country. The spirit of fear will leave the nation and all will be bound in love. Then other countries will come together to help and support Sri Lanka and work towards its development," the Minister stated.

 God, he said in preaching, had shown Dr. Paul the verse in Ezekial 34:36: I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing, and I will cause showers to come down in their season, and there will be showers of blessings.

Cause for hope and joy already no doubt, but there was more. He also spoke of three types of showers: showers of natural rain leading to increase in productivity and natural wealth.

"Rain of knowledge will pour upon youth of Sri Lanka, especially in the realm of higher education," he said. According to Dr. Paul it's God's plan to revamp several systems, so that the young people will be able to access the best education and compete with the best in the world.

When this happens, many international companies will set up establishments for the sake of intellectual capital available here, according to him. He added, "Rains of Holy Spirit will come upon Sri Lanka." It will come like a mighty wind to break the spirit of disunity and break many man-made systems.

The Holy Spirit will bring the spirit of humility among the people of God and they will see the power of God being established through signs, wonders and miracles. Holy Spirit will bring God's wealth to God's people for spiritual and social progress to help the country. God's wealth and riches will come to every ministry, which is faithfully ministering to God, he stated.

"Rain of Prosperity, Rain of Knowledge and Rain of Holy Spirit will come to Sri Lanka. The spirit of fear will go and the spirit of love will be everywhere."

Prayers

So he prayed and so he prophesied, as every citizen, whatever his or  her beliefs, has been doing for a long time. That these glorious prophesies, which have been uttered in various ways by others likewise, come true cannot but be the deepest wish of every heart - whether believer or non believer, sinner or saint, Hindu or Muslim.  

It is perhaps worthwhile to note here that God helps those who help themselves. If each person takes it upon themselves to cast out the evils of hatred, jealousy, ill-will, anger, bigotry and racism from their hearts, there's not a spec of doubt each and every one of these predictions and visions for the country will come true in full measure. 


©Leader Publications (Pvt) Ltd.
98, Ward Place Colombo 7
Tel : +94-75-365891,2 Fax : +94-75-365891
email :
editor@thesundayleader.lk