The Rajapaksas have continuously come under fire for allegedly obtaining commissions from all major projects initiated during the former regime and now it has been revealed how the multi-billion-rupee worth transmitting equipment, donated by the Chinese government, had allegedly been taken to start their own broadcasting network – the VIS Broadcasting Network (Pvt.) Ltd.
According to FCID sources, the police investigations had commenced after they obtained the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).
“Most of the information were obtained with the TIN No. 114638323 and according to details we are now in receipt, the country has received this stock of transmitters on July 9, 2009 and the customs duty had been waived off on a written request by the then Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunge,” sources added.
VIS Broadcasting Network (Pvt.) Ltd. was registered as a company with the Registrar of Companies on April 11, 2008 (Reg. No. PV 63832) and its first Board of Directors were former Chairman of National Youth Council, Nedigamuwa Lalith Piyum Perera, Kapila Gamini Samarasinghe Dissanayake, Vindya Rangani Hettiarachchi – daughter of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s sister and Kassapa Senarath Dissanayake. The Company Secretary was H. C. Perera and its registered office was at No. 12, De Fonseka Road, Colombo 5 and the city office was at 17A, Ocean Tower, Station Road, Colombo 4. According to FCID revelations, the then Media Minister, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa had given a temporary licence to VIS Broadcasting on May 16, 2008 a few days after it was registered with the Registrar of Companies.
“After the Chinese donation of these transmitters to the government of Sri Lanka on July 9, 2009, VIS Broadcasting Network had entered into an agreement with China Central Television on November 23, 2009 and had funded the VIS Broadcasting Network. Although China Central Television funded VIS Broadcasting after the agreement, it is also learnt that the same Chinese company had funded CSN unofficially,” sources added.
It has been revealed that Kassapa Senarath Dissanayake, when questioned by the FCID two weeks ago had alleged that the transmitter consignment was taken straight to the President’s Office from Sri Lanka Customs.
“When the FCID questioned Kassapa Senarath Dissanayake two weeks ago, he had told the FCID how the transmitter consignment was taken to the Presidential Secretariat from Sri Lanka Customs and later how the ‘President father’ had handed over the consignment to his siblings although it was received on behalf of the people of Sri Lanka,” FCID sources said on condition of anonymity.
According to sources, charges can be levelled not only against the Rajapaksa siblings but also against Mahinda Rajapaksa on Public Property Act, as it now clearly transpires how the former President had misused public property for his children’s welfare which is strictly against the Public Property Act.
The sources further said how two board directors from the initial VIS Broadcasting Network Board, Nedigamuwa Lalith Piyum Perera and Kapila Gamini Samarasinghe Dissanayake resigned and Narendra Seelanatha became a board member in August 2010.
“In November 2011, VIS Broadcasting Network worked hand-in-glove with Carlton Sports Network (CSN) and the FM frequencies VIS was granted. Singha FM and Red FM were started in 2012 and the Tamil radio channel was started in 2013.
Kassapa Senarath Dissanayake and Narendra Seelanatha then resigned from the director board and Kavishan Dissanayake becomes a Director.
In 2012, Menaka Liyanage, son of former Lotteries Board Chairman Upali Liyanage, became a Director but one year later together with Vindya Ranganee Hettiarachchi, Menaka Liyanage too resigned from the board in 2013,” sources added. When the Rajapaksa regime was ousted on January 8, 2015 and since the CSN channel had to face many obstacles and failed to carry on with the Carlton Sports Network further, VIS Broadcasting Network started off their own radio station ‘Sith’ FM closing down Singha, Red and the Tamil FM stations.
“In order to give a new face, Niranga Indrajith Hettiarachchi and Sanka were appointed to the Board of Directors of VIS Broadcasting Network,” FCID sources further claimed.
According to FCID revelations, it was the then Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CSN Nishantha Ranataunga who had managed VIS Broadcasting Management as well. According to FCID sources, although Kavishan Dissanayake had promised to invest in VIS Broadcasting Network, he had failed to invest what he had promised but had invested only less than one sixth of what was promised.
“Kavishan Dissanayake is said to have invested Rs. 150 million in VIS Broadcasting. When the FCID asked Dissanayake to show how he obtained money amounting to Rs.150 million to invest in this broadcasting network, he had failed to do so but has submitted details into his investment amounting to Rs. 24 million. Questions now arise as to how the CSN failed to show how they obtained money to invest the capital. The VIS Broadcasting Network too is now struggling to show how they got the money to start this broadcasting network,” sources alleged.
The sources further said how the FCID had questioned the entire board members of VIS Broadcasting from its inception and also the CSN board members, but added how strange it is that one of the CSN Directors, Dinesh Jayawardena, was not arrested when Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Rohan Welivita, Nishantha Ranatunga and two others were arrested in January this year, on Money Laundering Act.
“The FCID is now in the process of obtaining details from all board members as to how the capital investment was made and by whom. The FCID is also in the process of obtaining Vindya Ranganee Hettiarachchi’s bank accounts as to how she has earned money to invest on CSN and VIS Broadcasting Network and in the event she fails to show how she earned that money, she will have to say who gave her the money,” sources added.