After Maithripala Sirisena won the presidential election, he made his first visit to India to meet Indian Premier Narendra Modi. At that meet, Maithri appealed to Modi to assist him to recover monies stolen by certain Sri Lankan politicians of the previous administration hidden in other countries. He also asked Modi to help set up a financial intelligence unit in Sri Lanka.
He told Modi that he had information that such stolen funds had been deposited in St. Martin’s Island, Hong Kong and Seychelles. He also informed Modi that investments had been done in Dubai, Uganda and Kenya with stolen funds from Sri Lanka. In addition, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visited United States and appealed to Washington to help detect stolen funds deposited overseas by top figures in the Rajapaksa Government.
When US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Colombo recently, he agreed to train officers in the Sri Lankan Intelligence Unit to detect such stolen funds deposited overseas. That followed an expert team of officials on the subject visiting Sri Lanka a few weeks later. Mangala told the media that billions of rupees belonging to Mahinda Rajapaksa were deposited in overseas banks. Mahinda refuted that claim and even threatened to sue Mangala.
Last week former President Chandrika Kumaratunga visited Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s ministry and said the Rajapaksa Government had obtained a commission of Rs 15 billion from the Chinese Government to set up the Norochcholai Power Plant. Similarly, when Maithri assumed office as President, he halted the Chinese funded Colombo Port City Project stating that massive financial corruption was seen in that deal. It could be that America and India are assisting Sri Lanka to set up a financial intelligence unit to trace commissions made from Chinese deals.
Making efforts to re-commence The Chinese funded Colombo Port City Project was not only opposed by India, but also by America. However, China is yet making efforts to re-commence the stalled project. In the event China fails to get the green light from the present government, the Chinese company in charge of the project has decided to go before the International Court of Justice, well informed sources revealed.
In such event, if America and India succeeds in detecting the monies hoarded overseas by making commissions on Chinese deals that will push the Chinese company in charge of the Colombo Port City Project on the back foot before an international tribunal. It could be that America and India are helping the Maithri Government to detect those hoarded funds overseas to teach a lesson to China. When America and China invest in African countries, it is a known fact that they bribe politicians in those countries. Recently the ‘New York Times’ published acts of bribery behind Chinese funded projects in the following manner; “And in fact, China soon granted Namibia a big low-interest loan, which Namibia tapped to buy $55.3 million worth of Chinese-made cargo scanners to deter smugglers.
It was a neat illustration, Chinese officials said, of how doing good in Namibia could do well for China, too. Or so it seemed until Namibia charged that the State-controlled company selected by China to provide the scanners – a company until recently run by President Hu’s son – had facilitated the deal with millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks. And, until China threw up barriers when Namibian investigators asked for help looking into the matter.
Now the scanners seem to illustrate something else: the aura of boosterism, secrecy and back-room deals that has clouded China’s use of billions of dollars in foreign aid to court the developing world. From Pakistan to Angola to Kyrgyzstan, China is using its enormous pool of foreign currency savings to cement diplomatic alliances, secure access to natural resources and drum up business for its flagship companies. Foreign aid – typically cut-rate loans, sometimes bundled with more commercial lines of credit – is central to this effort. Leaders of developing nations have embraced China’s sales pitch of easy credit, without Western-style demands for political or economic reform, for a host of unmet needs. The results can be clearly seen in new roads, power plants, and telecommunications networks across the African continent – more than 200 projects since 2001, many financed with preferential loans from the Chinese Government’s Exim Bank.
Increasingly, though, experts argue that China’s aid comes with a major catch: It must be used to buy goods or services from companies, many of them State-controlled, that Chinese officials select themselves. Competitive bidding by the borrowing nation is discouraged, and China pulls a veil over vital data like project costs, loan terms and repayment conditions. Even the dollar amount of loans offered as foreign aid is treated as a State secret. Anti-corruption crusaders complain that secrecy invites corruption, and that corruption debases foreign assistance.
“China is using this financing to buy the loyalty of the political elite,” said Harry Roque, a University of the Philippines Law Professor who is challenging the legality of Chinese-financed projects in the Philippines. “It is a very effective tool of soft diplomacy. But it is bad for the citizens who have to repay these loans for graft-ridden contracts.” In fact, such secrecy runs counter to international norms for foreign assistance. In a part of the world prone to corruption and poor governance, it also raises questions about who actually benefits from China’s projects. The answers, international development specialists say, are hidden from public view”.
If China goes before an international Court in the event Colombo permanently halts the Colombo Port City Project, the assumption that America and India’s help to establish a financial intelligence unit in Sri Lanka to detect commissions made under the table is quite clear when one reads the above description.