by Nirmala Kannangara
Daisy Forest, aunt of Mary Laud Wickremasinghe alias Shiranthi Rajapaksa, is now under an intense probe as to how she collected Rs. 49.52 million to purchase a 30-perch land at Mt. Lavinia and a land which falls under the Dehiwela-Mt. Lavinia Cooperative Society. Ninety-year-old Ms. Forest had bought over the adjoining lands in 2013 and is said to have gifted it to her grand nephew Yoshitha Rajapaksa.
Following charges levelled against Yoshitha Rajapaksa over alleged financial irregularities and criminal breach of trust, Yoshitha and his grand aunt are now being questioned under the Money Laundering Act to find out as to how they acquired millions of rupees to build two palatial houses on the land in question and how Ms. Forest raised Rs. 49.52 million to pay nine individuals in the neighbourhood of 173/2, Mihindu Mawatha, Mt. Lavinia.
The 38-perch land at 173/2, Mihindu Mawatha, Mt. Lavinia was owned by Shiranthi Rajapaksa and she is alleged to have got it extended further to ‘suit’ her family status when her husband was the Head of State.
“This land had been later gifted to her second son Yoshitha Kanishka Rajapaksa on October 12, 2015 through deed number 3221 by Notary Public Weeraman. Since this particular land was ‘too small’ for the Rajapaksas the adjoining lands to the extent of 30 perches had been bought over by Daisy Forest of 210/12, Torrington Avenue, Colombo 05. The Torrington property in Colombo 5 too is now under probe to find out how the Rajapaksas got the money to purchase it as originally it was owned by Prabath Nanayakkara, who was close to Mahinda Rajapaksa from the time he was the Opposition Leader. It was in this house Mahinda Rajapaksa had lived after becoming the Opposition Leader and thereafter when he became the President in 2005, this property had been bought over by Mary Laud Wickremasinghe bearing National Identity Card No: 535233314V on April 5, 2013 for Rs. 35 million. If Rajapaksas and Wickremasinghes are born rich and had wealth, it would not be a problem but if they have not inherited such a vast amount of money, they will have to reveal how they got these money to purchase properties in well residential areas in Colombo 5 and also at Mt. Lavinia,” reliable FCID inside sources said.
The sources, who wished to remain anonymous, said the investigations that are now being conducted into the Mt. Lavinia property to find out how Ms. Forest raised money to the tune of Rs. 49.52 million when her past records shows that she did not have much movable or immovable wealth of her own, have raised serious questions.
“The two palatial houses, which were constructed in the said land, comprises an underground bunker similar to that of the bunker built at President’s House in Fort during Rajapaksa’s tenure as the President, is believed to be worth over Rs. 1,000 million. Yoshitha Rajapaksa was a government servant for a few years and from his monthly remuneration he couldn’t have built such a large house and therefore the investigators have to investigate who gave the money to get this house built.
When tracing back to his parents past wealth, it has now revealed that they did not have such a large wealth at the time Mahinda Rajapaksa entered politics in 1970s nor his wife Shiranthi Rajapaksa from her birth. If so how did Yoshitha get this money? Since legal action had been taken against Yoshitha under the Money Laundering Act with regard to the Carlton Sports Network (CSN) although he claims that he does not own the TV and Radio channel, the Rajapaksas are further getting into trouble for money laundering,” sources added.
According to FCID investigations, the 30-perch land Daisy Forest had bought over was owned by nine individuals – Stephen Fernando, Irene de Silva, Cyril Fernando, Hemalatha Ranaweera, Mebal Suraweera, Patrick Fernando, Asalin Fernando, Admin Fernando and Violet Fernando.
“At the time this land was purchased, there was a patrician case (147/ 95/ P) pending at the District Court Mt. Lavinia. Because of the pending patrician case, through Notary Weeraman, the owners came to a sales agreement with Daisy Forest to sell the patrician land to her. Hence sales agreements bearing numbers 3084, 3085, 3086, 3087, 3088, 3089, 3090, 3091 and 3092 were signed and on August 19, 2013 the land had been sold to Ms. Forest through deed No: 3107, 3108, 3109 and 3158,” sources claimed.
The sources further revealed how Ms. Forest had paid Rs. 7.5 million to Stephan Fernando, Rs. 3.54 million to Irene Fernando, Rs. 7 million to Cyril Fernando, Rs. 6 million to Hemalatha Ranaweera, Rs. 3.34 million to Mebal Suraweera, Rs. 7 million to Patrick Fernando, Rs. 2.5 million to Asalin Fernando, Rs. 1.5 million to Admin Fernando and Rs. 3.34 to Violet Fernando.
“Since there were few others who did not possess deeds for the said land but were claiming ownership to it from the patrician case, the Notary got them to sign a deed of renunciation to renounce their rights and title through deed of renunciation No: 3106 dated March 6, 2013,” sources claimed.
Refuting allegations the Rajapaksas are levelling charges against the FCID claiming the FCID is carrying out a government contract to sling mud at Rajapaksa clan. The sources said that if any law enforcement authority has taken action against them against the law of the land, the Rajapaksas can take legal action.
“Based on a complaint lodged against the Mt. Lavinia property, we initiated an inquiry and had recorded statements from Daisy Forest and Yoshitha Rajapaksa and even from other parties involved in these transactions. In such a background how can the Rajapaksas point the finger at the law enforcement authorities of the country?” sources added.
The sources further said as to how Rajapaksas disclaimed their involvement in the CSN and added that there were no claimers to the money CSN was having in their bank accounts.
“After the FCID started off the investigation on the controversial CSN under the Money Laundering Act, they unearthed how the D. A. Rajapaksa Foundation had breached the agreement reached they entered with the UDA when obtaining the state-owned land, where the CSN building is now situated.
Although this land had been given on condition, that it should not be used for any purpose other than for the D. A. Rajapaksa Foundation, the building in question had been constructed to house the CSN TV network in 2010, and it is alleged that after the fall of the Rajapaksa regime on January 8, a lease agreement has been signed by the Rajapaksa Foundation with CSN hurriedly, to show that this land had been taken over legally from the Foundation.
Although the government valuers have valued this building at Rs. 200 million, they are yet to submit the accounts as to how they obtained the money. Chief Executive Officer of the Rajapaksa Foundation, Upul Dissanayake, had said that the money had been given by W. Karunajeewa, the former Chairman, People’s Bank, whose daughter-in-law was one of the Directors at CSN,” sources said
According to the sources, Rajapaksa offspring have continuously failed to explain how they amassed wealth which runs into several hundreds of millions of rupees to purchase the Dehiwala land at Mihindu Mawatha and to build the two palatial luxury houses, and also to construct the CSN office building at Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, Battaramulla.
“No one is there now for Rajapaksa’s rescue. They have time to tell the investigators who funded them or how they earned the money to spend on these projects,” sources added.