Gammanpila’s Signature Scams

by Nirmala Kannangara

Yet another Rajapaksa follower is soon to be arrested by the Police Special Investigation Unit (SIU) for allegedly cheating an Australian national of more than Rs. 1,000 million.

The long delay at the Attorney General’s (AG) Department over the past few months has prevented the SIU from arresting the ever-pontificating leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya and Colombo District UPFA MP, Udaya Prabath Gammanpila for allegedly using a fraudulent power of attorney to sell 4.1 million shares of Pan Asia Bank and later other assets in Sri Lanka which belonged to Brian Shaddick of Western Australia.

The SIU had questioned Gammanpila and those who aided and abetted him in these frauds and also the two parties that purchased Shaddick’s Pan Asia Bank shares. When the power of attorney was sent to the Examiner of Questioned Documents (EQD) by the SIU, to ascertain the authenticity of Shaddick and his wife Janet’s signatures, it was revealed that Janet Shaddick’s signature had been forged in the power of attorney document and Brian Shaddick’s signature had been cut and pasted.

 

The mass-scale frauds

The mass-scale frauds committed by Gammanpila are now unfolding and astonishing revelations have now surfaced of how he swindled Shaddick’s wealth together with one Sydney Jayasinghe who happened to be a Director at Pan Asia bank when the illegal share transaction was performed.

Gammanpila began working for Shaddick at his Colombo Scrap Metal Company which later became the Metal Recyclers Colombo as its Assistant General Manager (AGM), and was able to win his heart and established himself as a confidante of Shaddick, and became its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). It is from this point that Gammanpila allegedly began swindling Shaddick’s wealth.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader from Australia, Brian Shaddick explained how he came to Sri Lanka to invest in the scrap metal industry and started his first business venture, the Colombo Scrap Metal Company, which was a BOI project.

Lasitha Perera who holds the power of attorney for Brian Shaddick’s local affairs meanwhile explained how Shaddick got Sydney Jayasinghe involved in his businesses through a local employee at the Australian High Commission in Colombo.

“When Shaddick first came to Sri Lanka, one Eeriyagama, who was working at the Australian High Commission, had introduced him to Sydney Jayasinghe. Since a foreigner cannot start a business in Sri Lanka without a Sri Lankan investment, Shaddick wanted Jayasinghe to become his partner in his business ventures but made the full investment without any financial support from Jayasinghe. However Jaysinghe got 50 per cent ownership of this company for being Shaddick’s local partner,” Perera said.

According to Perera, Sydney Jayasinghe became Shaddick’s local partner not only at Colombo Scrap Metal Company but also at Ceylon Tea Garden.

“At this time, Jayasinghe had requested Shaddick to help him to educate his two sons as he did not have the funds to spend on their higher education. Shaddick had agreed to help Jayasinghe to educate his sons, and they were taken to Australia and enrolled at Monash University out of his own money. It was at this point that Jayasinghe’s son Muditha and Udaya Gammanpila who too was studying at Monash University, became good friends. After returning from Monash, Muditha introduced Gammanpila to his father Sydney Jayasinghe and he was offered a job at Shaddick’s company. That was how Shaddick met Gammanpila,” Perera said.   Since Metal Recyclers Colombo became a thriving company, it was listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange in 1995 and issuing its shares to the public, the company earned Rs. 460 million.

In order to invest more in Sri Lanka as his businesses were booming, Shaddick had purchased 4.1 million Pan Asia Bank shares to the value of Rs. 110 million. Knowing well that Shaddick had purchased shares from Pan Asia Bank and also had Rs. 460 million in bank accounts from selling Metal Recyclers Colombo shares and also had other assets worth several hundreds of millions of rupees, Gammanpila had told Shaddick that Sydney Jayasinghe’s son Muditha had a plan to murder him and that he should leave the country at the earliest if he wanted to save his life.

According to Shaddick, he had no other option but to leave the country immediately, leaving behind all his businesses in the hands of Gammanpila.

It was only after this that Gammanpila with the help of Sydney Jayasinghe, swindled Shaddick. It was only in 2004, seven years after leaving Sri Lankan shores that Shaddick discovered that his Pan Asia Bank shares had been sold to two companies.“Although Shaddick was in Australia, he had been in contact with the Pan Asia Bank from the time he left Sri Lanka in May 1997. After seeing a Pan Asia Bank advertisement issuing shares, Shaddick had decided to sell his 4.1 million shares and had spoken to the company secretary in 2004. He was then informed that all his shares had been sold. Shaddick had wanted the bank to inform him how the shares that had been bought under his company, Digital Nominee (Pvt) Ltd, had been sold without his approval. The bank had informed him that Gammanpila had sold the shares to two companies using Shaddick’s power of attorney given to Gammanpila,” Perera said.After selling the Pan Asia Bank shares, Gammanpila and Jayasinghe had shifted Metal Recyclers Colombo from Peliyagoda to Enderamulla and had later sold the Peliyagoda property with the buildings therein for Rs. 100 million.

Since Shaddick was not residing in Sri Lanka, Gammanpila as the CEO together with Jayasinghe showed the shareholders that Metal Recyclers Colombo was incurring losses and closed down the business fraudulently evading paying dividends to the shareholders. Shaddick had not been informed of the closure of the very profitable venture.

From Metal Recyclers Colombo alone, Gammanpila and Jayasinghe had allegedly windled Rs. 560 million. Later, Gammanpila and Jayasinghe had got Brian Shaddick’s name removed from the Board of Directors of Ceylon Tea Garden which too was owned by Shaddick, in order to sell the company.

“In the event a company is sold, a board resolution has to be taken. Since Shaddick would not give his permission to sell this company, Udaya Gammanpila had informed the registrar of companies that Brian Shaddick was no longer a director at Ceylon Tea Garden and requested that his name be removed from company documents. Later Gammanpila became an alternate director to Shaddick and together with the board of directors, sold the company to Metropolitan Resource Holdings,” Perera added.

Although Perera was able to find out that Brombil Tea Factory Matugama had been sold for Rs. 190 million, so far he has not been able to find out for how much the company was sold to Metropolitan Resources Holdings.

“Fifty per cent shares of Ceylon Tea Garden were owned by Shaddick and he had invested one million Australian Dollars (AUD 1 million) which is equivalent to Rs. 100 million,” Perera said.

According to Perera, 2.1 million Pan Asia Bank shares had been sold to Vanik Incorporation by Gammanpila soon after Shaddick left the country in 1997 and the rest, 2 million shares, to Dhammika Perera in 2002.

“Pan Asia Bank had accepted the fraudulent power of attorney and allegations are levelled at this bank for not revealing the scam. From the time Shaddick left Sri Lanka, he had spoken to the Pan Asia Bank Secretary, but she had never informed him of the share transaction. Sydney Jayasinghe was a director at Pan Asia and he is alleged to have helped Gammanpila to use the fraudulent power of attorney to sell the shares,” Perera alleged.

According to Perera, although Gammanpila’s involvement in these massive scams started to unfold in 2004, neither Shaddick nor he (Perera) wanted to lodge a police complaint due to the country’s prevailing security situation.

“Gammanpila was a supporter of the Rajapaksas and worked hand in glove with the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Neither Shaddick nor I wanted to take a risk and waited in silence. It was only during the 2015 presidential campaign that I came forward and levelled these allegations to which Gammanpila responded that I was making false allegations and that he would take legal action against me. Up to now Gammanpila has never filed a lawsuit against me nor has he sent me a letter of demand.

I want Gammanpila to come for a public debate in any place or even a radio or TV channel so I can prove what a fraudster he is,” Perera said.

After the fall of the Rajapaksa regime, Shaddick had returned to Sri Lanka on August 1, 2015 to lodge a complaint (Case No. 52/ 2015) and had left the country on August 5.

 

Too expensive

Meanwhile Janet Shaddick said that although they wanted to take legal action against the fraudsters they had to drop the idea since international litigation is too expensive and it was difficult to achieve a positive result.

“Udaya Gammanpila and Jagath Wijeratne met Shaddick in the airport and had driven him to the Hilton Hotel. They both worked for Shaddick. Both Udaya and Jagath had asked Shaddick to leave Sri Lanka as Sydney’s son Muditha had a contract to kill Shaddick,” Janet said.

She further said, “We never entrusted Udaya with looking after our three companies; he was employed by us before Brian left Sri Lanka, but we did believe him when he said that Brian was to be killed. We wanted him to inform us of what was going on in Sri Lanka but he never did so.

It was only after several years that we found out that Sydney and Udaya were planning to steal all our assets. All our money in Pan Asia Bank was taken by Udaya with a false power of attorney. The ‘threat’ to Brian was obviously a scam set up by these two criminals, Udaya and Sydney. Udaya is a fraudster hiding behind his religion.”

Responding to a text message, Udaya Gammanpila responded from Italy refuting the allegations levelled against him.

The text message reads, “This is an utter lie and old story for which I have repeatedly replied. I have already taken legal action against Hirunika for making this allegation. I sent a letter of demand for Rs. 1 billion to Lake House for publishing this story two days ago. I am presently in Italy. Udaya Gammanpila.”