Lasantha admits obtaining vehicles, denies wrongdoing

Ashu claims innocence


By Shamindra Ferdinando


Deputy Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Lasantha Alagiyawanne, MP, yesterday told The Island that he had intervened to obtain vehicles for three persons assigned the task of supervising State Engineering Corporation (SEC) implemented projects in the Gampaha District during the then president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term.

At that time, Gampaha District MP Alagiyawanne was the deputy to National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, who held the construction, engineering service, housing and common amenities portfolios.


Alagiyawanne said that his relatives hadn’t been among the recipients and proper procedures had been followed in the procurement. The SLFPer said that he had personally made a written request for the vehicles as he didn’t have anything to hide.

The MP sided with President Maithripala Sirisena following parliamentary polls in August 2015.

The Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) or any other agency could easily verify facts as all documents pertaining to the release of three vehicles on his intervention were available, MP Alagiyawanne said.

Alagiyawanne said that as a member of parliament representing the Gampaha District, he had taken steps to supervise projects estimated to be worth over Rs 800 mn that were being implemented.

The Deputy Minister was responding to former MP and NFF spokesman Mohammed Muzammil allegation that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had prevented the FCID from arresting Alagiyawanne. Muzammil told The Island that both Alagiyawanne and UNP National List MP Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, too, should be arrested on the same charge as MP Weerawansa.

The Deputy Minister said that the SEC had provided only three vehicles as requested by him though NFF accused him of obtaining four vehicles.

UPFA MP and Joint Opposition heavyweight Weerawansa and former General Manager of the State Engineering Corporation (SEC) Samantha Lokuhennadi have been remanded till Jan. 24 by Fort magistrate Lanka Jayaratne.

They were arrested on charges of causing a loss of R. 90 mn to the state by hiring and releasing about 40 vehicles placed at the disposal of various persons including some close relatives of the then minister, members of the clergy, civil society and journalists.

MP Alagiyawanne said that he had no option but to point out that Weerawansa had obtained vehicles through the SEC without making official requests in writing.

According to the FCID, the investigation was launched following a complaint received from Dr M.E. Joachim on Sept. 21, 2015.

However, Muzammil insisted that the FCID couldn’t leave Deputy Minister Alagiyawanne and the then Chairman, State Engineering Corporation Prof. Marasinghe out of the investigation.

Denying any wrongdoing on his part, Prof. Marasinghe yesterday told The Island that the FCID had recorded a comprehensive statement from him. "I didn’t want to discuss the issue with the media," the UNPer said, assuring that procedures were followed during his tenure as Chairman, SEC for exactly a year commencing May 2010.

Responding to accusations that former General Manager of the State Engineering Corporation Lokuhennadi had received instructions regarding the releasing of vehicles, Prof. Marasinghe said that nothing could be further from the truth as he hadn’t been with the SEC when the official concerned moved in.

Muzammil said that those who had been given vehicles worked for the ‘Jana Sevana’ housing project.

Responding to another query, MP Alagiyawanne said that there had been separate agreements between the SEC and those who received vehicles through his intervention. The MP stressed that the vehicle recipients hadn’t violated the agreements. The Deputy minister insisted that releasing of vehicles through his intervention couldn’t be compared with charges brought against MP Weerawansa. "Slinging mud at me will not help Wimal. Inquiry will prove that I didn’t provide vehicles at the taxpayers expense to my relatives."



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