Nepotism and financial irregularities in Wimal’s ministry


By Harischandra Gunaratna

The panel investigating the alleged irregularities which are said to have taken place in institutions which came under the Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities Minister Wimal Weerawansa during the UPFA government, yesterday said there had been financial irregularities to the tune of several million rupees and rampant nepotism.

They said the former minister Weerawansa had gone out of the way to provide a taste of luxury to his kith and kin circumventing rules and regulations at the expense of the tax payer.

The members of the panel Lakwijaya Sagara Palansuriya, Chairman, National Housing Development Authority, Purna Chandana de Silva, Chairman Ocean Development Co Ltd and Dinesh Widanapathirane, charged that on the instructions of former minister Wimal Weerawansa, six up market houses with a market value of 71 million rupees constructed by Ocean View Development Co Ltd , a subsidiary of the ministry, at Mattegoda (2) and Kahathuduwa (4) had been given to close relatives of the Minister just on a letter signed by him.

Widanapathirane addressing the media said the criteria laid down for the sale of those houses was to pay a ten per cent of the market value as an advance and pay 75% of the balance before occupying the house and pay the balance within a period of two years.

But the houses had been given to family members of the Minister after some of them paid an advance of one million rupees and others only Rs. 500,000, he said.

According to Widanapathirane, they had failed to pay the stipulated 75% of the full value of the houses before occupying them and after the present government came to power they were ordered to vacate the houses.

Those who had been given houses by the former minister Werawansa were his brothers-in-law Wadachcharige Hemasiri, Palleperuma Gamage Ananda Priyadharshana, Wathsala Kumaarasinghe, and Isuru Tharangamala, it is alleged.

One of the houses had been given to a person named Milinda Ratnayake, who was attached to the former President’s media unit on the orders of the former First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa, Widanapathirane said.

Chairman, Ocean View Co Ltd Purna Chandana de Silva said that the houses had been undervalued before handing them over to the former minister’s relatives and it was quite apparent that they were simply built to be handed over to his kith and kin for a song.

The findings of the panel had been handed over to the Financial Crimes Investigation Division of the police and on April 30 it had submitted a report to the Colombo Magistrate Court, he said.

Another charge was that diaries and calendars had been printed by the Ocean View Co Ltd during the previous government and it had paid Rs.14 million to a company named Imashi printers without following the stipulated procedures.

De Silva said the number printed around 30,000 was superfluous for an institution such as Ocean View and it was done deliberately for political purposes.

There had been 12 persons who had been in the pay roll of the company where they had received salaries amounting to six million rupees and investigations had revealed that they had not reported to any institution coming under the purview of the former ministry but drawn their monthly salaries. The payments were stopped forthwith after the new government came into power, he said.

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