The Hidden Truth Behind CSN’s Money Laundering

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By Ulapane Sumangala Thero

Ulapane Sumangala Thero - Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Front

Is this the result of practicing politics of hate or of politics of revenge?

The answer that is required to be sought in this regard in the first place is whether the CSN channel was started in order to fulfill the role of a media organization or for the purposes of money laundering.

The shortest answer that can be given in this regard is something that needs to be asked from the heads of the CSN channel, in that for the past year having spent an investment in excess of Rs 200 million to implement the project, where is the profit and loss/income statement pertaining to in this endeavor? What are the rewards afforded to those like Ashan Fernando who invested Rs 5 million, Gadiya Karunajeewa who invested Rs 1 million and Kavishan Dissanayake who invested Rs 1 million, whilst being members of the director board.

What is revealed from the CSN company reports is that they were tycoons who received no profit or economic benefit when compared to the investments they made to the CSN company, and therefore that it could be inferred that they made these investments to contribute to a worthy cause and that their expectations were for the benefit and furthering of sports in Sri Lanka.

Therefore, let us for a moment pay attention to their economic and financial backgrounds.

Yoshitha Rajapaksa

Ashan Fernando by profession is a doctor. He works as a doctor in the blood bank of the Mannar Hospital. He received his education at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and was in the same class as Yoshitha Rajapaksa, who is a close friend of his. Ashan’s father is Amarapala Fernando, who is an attorney-at-law who does not make court appearances. Amarapala Fernando is a director of the Nachuran Group. Ashan Fernando states that the amount given by his father had been invested in the CSN business.

Kavishan Dissanayake is the brother of one of Yoshitha Rajapaksa’s friends. His stance is that he had invested Rs 1 million after obtaining Rs 250,000 from his mother, Chulanthi Fernando, a loan of Rs 250,000 from his uncle, Channa Wijemanne, and another loan of Rs 500,000 from another one of his uncles, Priyantha Wijemanne. What is surprising is that these individuals had made no attempt to pay back the loans or attempted to obtain annual dividends from the CSN channel.

The third member of the director board is Gadiya Karunajeewa. She is the daughter of former Chairman of the People’s Bank, W. Karunajeewa. He is a close associate of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. During the time Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son was working in the Sri Lankan High Commission in Britain, Gadiya had served as an attorney-at-law in England. It was Gadiya’s father W. Karunajeewa who had given Rs 300 million for the purpose of constructing the Channel 8 Youth building, where the headquarters of the CSN channel was based. Gadiya Karunajeewa is presently residing in Australia. Reports confirm that she never attempted to obtain dividends for the amount she invested.

While a trio invested money in the CSN channel, Rohan Weliwita served as the fourth director, and he had invested equipment and human resources. According to Weliwita, the investment was Rs 4 million. For this he had given the camera equipment belonging to the “Thinetha” satellite television channel, owned by him and the employees at the said channel to the CSN organization. What is special here is that the “Thinetha” television channel did not possess the license issued by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka. He states that he possesses a letter given by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to institute the organization, and that he had made an investment of Rs 4 million to the CSN channel by giving the equipment and employees of the “Thinetha” television channel organization. Even at the time Rohan Weliwita left the CSN organization’s director board, he had not sought dividends for the investment nor asked for the return of the equipment. Rohan Weliwita served as the media director of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Ghost Directors

What can be understood from all this is that none of these directors were the true investors of the CSN company and that they were namesake directors who had acted as ghost directors for a person or group of persons, in an organization structure built on the same model and framework as the one in the Helping Hambantota case.
It is practically not possible to have maintained the organization solely on the investments made by the aforementioned directors.

It is reported that in order for the CSN organization to be maintained and continued, it had obtained a loan of Rs 200 million from various financial institutions and persons.
It is through this process that it comes to light that the CSN organization was engaged in money laundering. In order for us to ascertain without doubt what happened, let us look at how the CSN channel obtained loans.

Institutions which gave loans and persons, who gave loans

1. The initial Rs 50 million had been obtained as a loan from the Lanka Orix Leasing Company (LOLC). As a guarantee for the amount, the TPL International Private Limited organization had presented Rs 253 million as a fixed deposit at the LOLC organization. The owners of the said TPL International Private Limited organization at the time were former MP Sajin Vaas Gunawardena and his wife, Tiyana Damayanthi Anthonys.

2. As per the CSN organization and documents of the organization, the second Rs 50 million had been given by a businessman named Nimal Perera. He had served for a while as a business partner of the infamous businessman, Dhammika Perera. He presently serves as the Chairman of the Pan Asia Company, and is a main shareholder of the Royal Ceramics, LB Finance, Vallibel Finance and the Kingsbury Hotel. Nimal Perera states that his signature had been obtained for a letter but adds that no money had been given. If it is proved that Nimal Perera gave the loan, the CSN must answer for as to why it did not settle the loan and as to why Nimal Perera did not attempt to get the loan back. If it is proved that Nimal Perera had not given a loan, then the CSN organization must answer as to why false details were mentioned as a monetary investment. Either way, all these statements attest to lies by thieves.

3. Thirdly, a loan of Rs 100 million had been given by the organizations, Cosmos Technology Limited and Cosmos Printing. The owner of both these organizations is former MP Sajin Vaas Gunawardena, who served as the coordinating secretary of Mahinda Rajapaksa. From information that has been revealed thus far, the Cosmos Printing organization has been declared bankrupt.

The position of the CSN Company has been that the aforementioned Rs 200 million had been obtained as loans from the relevant institutions and persons. However, what we with responsibility say is that what these institutions and persons have turned into loans has been monies deposited with these persons and institutions, monies which had been obtained as commissions and bribes through various foreign deals.

The LOLC organization has issued a loan of Rs 50 million, against a fixed deposit of Rs 253 million by TPL International Private Limited placed in the LOLC organization. What we say with responsibility is that the said fixed deposit was made up of a part of dollars 5 million obtained as commission for selling a piece of land from the Galle Face Green front to the Shangri La Hotel. The sale had been done by a foreign company called Haliyard and the TPL International Private Limited.

The CSN company had never attempted to pay back the Rs 50 million and afterwards, the LOLC company had calculated the amount of the loan and interest owed to them and taken it from the fixed deposit of the TPL International Private Limited at the LOLC.

The TPL International Private Limited may have let go of the large fixed deposit of theirs because they may have considered Rs 253 million an insignificant sum.
Also we say with responsibility that the Rs 100 million which was given by Cosmos Technology and Cosmos Printing, is part of the commission obtained by TPL International Private Limited from the Shangri La deal.

Whether or not the said amount would be asked back from the CSN company is something Sajin Vaas Gunawardena must state. Yet even at present, he has yet to make a claim for the amount from the CSN company. Why does he not ask for the amount to be paid back? Whether it is because the said amount does not truly belong to him is a question that remains to be answered.

Another incident that proves that money laundering took place at the CSN company is based on how the CSN organization conducted itself with a British company with regards to obtaining equipment for the CSN organization.

1. In 2012, for an OB bus of the CSN organization and equipment needed for it, steps had been taken to import the said OB vehicle and equipment after placing an order with a company called Arina in England and the ES Broadcasting company.

As per documents submitted by the CSN company to the Sri Lanka Customs, the price of the bus was Sterling Pounds 23,000 and Dollars 3,200 for the equipment.

However, the true invoice for the bus reveals that the bus was priced at Sterling Pounds 300,000 and the equipment at Sterling Pounds 140,000.

The difference between the invoice presented to the Customs and the true invoice issued to the “Thaarunyata Hetak” organization is around Sterling Pounds 409,800.

In Sri Lankan Rupees the said amount would be Rs 890 million.

We responsibly say that the said Rs 890 million or Sterling Pounds 409,800 had been paid off through a personal account of former Chairman of the Ports Authority, Wickrema Priyath Bandu while in Britain.

What is special in this process is that the aforementioned OB bus and the equipment despite being continuously used for activities of the CSN channel for the past three years are never mentioned in the inventory of the CSN company. After 2015 January 08, the said OB bus was parked in a room inside the economic centre in Narahenpita. The Police have presently seized the vehicle.

In the room adjacent to where the bus was parked was a plane with antiquarian value (museum piece) actually belonging to Ray Wijewardena, even though it was told that it belonged to Yoshitha Rajapaksa.

We responsibly say that the reason why the OB bus and equipment worth millions, which had been released after paying duty, which were not entered in the inventory of the CSN company, which were by 2015 January 08, hidden at the economic centre in Narahenpita, was done so in such a manner because their worth could not be established through the investments of the CSN company and the incomes of the CSN company.

Monetary laundering – further?

To date, the CSN company conducts its business activities at a five storey building in Battaramulla. The address is 236/1, Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha. The said building belongs to the D.A. Rajapaksa Foundation. It has been instituted and established by an Act of Parliament (No. 23 of 1998).

The building belonging to the Rajapaksa Foundation has been constructed on a land leased by the Urban Development Authority. The contract for the construction had been given to the Nawaloka Construction Company. In 2010, the building had been constructed and handed over to the CSN company. Afterwards, the CSN company and the D.A. Rajapaksa Foundation had entered into a lease agreement. The annual lease of the relevant land is Rs 163,125. The Nawaloka organization states that in 2010, Rs 3,000 million was spent on the said construction. The said amount had been given to the Nawaloka company by W. Karunajeewa, who is a former Chairman of the People’s Bank, a close associate of Mahinda Rajapaksa and the father of Gadiya Karunajeewa, who is a director of the CSN company. It is a fact and a truth that W. Karunajeewa does not in any way possess the personal means to pay Rs 3,000 million for the construction of the building belonging to the Rajapaksa Foundation, from money earned by him.

If so what is the source and origin of the said amount? W. Karunajeewa is no longer amongst the living in order to answer this question.

All of the aforementioned examples prove amply that the CSN company was a fake company maintained in Sri Lanka for the purpose and objective of laundering money. Therefore, let us now find out what is meant by money laundering.

“The concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money typically by means of transfers involving foreign banks of legitimate business. It is a process of transforming the proceeds of crime in to ostensibly legitimate money or other assets.”

The legal framework in Sri Lanka in relation to money laundering:

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, No. 05 of 2006 was passed by the Sri Lankan Parliament into the law of the land.

As per the provisions of the said Act, if any person,

In the event that s/he indirectly or through direct means, gains a property, through wealth obtained through indirect or direct means by an illegal activity or deal.