Sri Lanka Brief
Situation AnalysisWeerawansa Family And Friends’ Joyride At State Expense

Weerawansa Family And Friends’ Joyride At State Expense

by

(Wimal Weerawansa)

A fleet of 40 vehicles hired for State Engineering used by ex-minister’s cronies,

by Nirmala Kannangara.
Weerasangilige Wimal Weerawansa who mouths slogans and gives breast-beating displays of patriotism from political platforms despite his involvement in large-scale corruption and undercover activities, has once again been exposed as a corrupt politician. This time around, details have emerged of how he allegedly hired a fleet of 40 luxury vehicles spending millions of rupees of taxpayers’ hard-earned money, to have relatives and friends travel in luxury.

The Sunday Leader this week exposes how Weerawansa misused State Engineering Corporation (SEC) funds to pay the hiring charges for this fleet of vehicles when he was Housing and Construction Minister in the Rajapaksa regime. Earlier this newspaper exposed how Weerawansa who was operating a small telecommunication centre in Kadawatha and whose sole asset was a four perch land in Millegahawatte, Pahala Biyanwila in Kadawatha at the time he entered parliament in 2000, became a multi-millionaire in no time after he extended his support to Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2008. Despite portraying himself as a patriotic, clean politician, the renegade Marxist has now been exposed as a wheeler-dealer who made money through various nefarious deals.

When accused of hiring vehicles using state funds for his relatives, Weerawansa had responded that none of these vehicles were used by his relatives or friends but were used for official work.

Be that as it may, The Sunday Leader is in possession of details of the 40 SEC vehicles hired during Weerawansa’s tenure. However the details of how some of these vehicles were assigned to are not known as all the detailed files relating to this fraud have been taken over by the Commission to Investigate Allegation into Bribery or Corruption, said Deputy Chairman SEC, Mahen Pelpola.

According to the SEC Sectional Heads, although they requested vehicles for official purposes, mainly for its site work, the then Deputy General Manager (Human Resources and Administration) Samantha Lokuhennadige allegedly hired the vehicles without calling for tenders and assigned them to Weerawansa’s relatives and friends instead of to the SEC officials who had made the requests. According to them, Lokuhennadige maintained records to show that those vehicles were used for SEC work.

According to the sources, it was Samantha Priyanath Lokuhennadige that was responsible for releasing vehicles for Weerawansa’s family and friends but the then Ministry Secretary Wimalasiri Perera had not taken any action although he was informed of what was happening at the SEC.

“Wimalasiri Perera was a stooge of Weerawansa and he gave his blessings to this racket as he too obtained one of these 40 luxury vehicles for his wife’s use. Lokuhennadige was loyal to the minister as it was Weerawansa who had offered the job as Deputy General Manager (Human Resources and Administration) to Lokuhennadige at the SEC after he (Weerawansa) became the subject minister. Lokuhennadige was an Army Captain who had been sacked for a financial fraud,” sources who wished to remain anonymous alleged.

Weerawansa was appointed as the Housing and Construction Minister in 2011 and according to the documentary evidence, those vehicles had been hired in 2012. For the year 2014 alone, SEC paid Rs. 41.073 million for the 40 vehicles.

The sources further said SEC should hold a separate inquiry to find out how these 40 vehicles were hired without calling for tenders.

“Although the normal procedure is to call tenders and obtain the vehicles for a fixed rate, on the instructions of Weerawansa, Lokuhennadige obtained most of these vehicles from parties known to Weerawansa and even from his relations,” sources alleged.

KR-7730 (Suzuki Alto car) had allegedly been used by Dushmantha Abeysinghe who was the Parliamentary Affairs Secretary to Weerawansa. According to 2014 running charts, this car has never been used for any SEC head office work or at any of its sites. Although Deputy General Manager (Constructions) A. A. Piyadasa had made a request on February 10, 2012 for a vehicle for the SEC Angulana site and the Transport Officer had recommended the request, Lokuhennadige had allegedly hired the vehicle from Nuwan Indika Perera on February 14, 2012 and had given it to Weerawansa’s Parliamentary Secretary instead of to the Construction Division. On March 13, 2014, Rs. 38,000 had been paid as February hiring charges while Rs. 56,240 had been paid on May 2, 2014 for the month of March through cheque Nos: 172314 and 172506 respectively.

KQ-7961 had allegedly been given to a private party (name unknown) and according to the running charts this car has never been used by a SEC official and not driven by their drivers but by Sampath Kumara who was not a SEC employee. This vehicle had been hired from Isuru Travels and Tours who had been paid Rs. 42,620 on March 11, 2014 as hiring fees for the month of January. This vehicle too had not been used for any official work.

JO-5953 (Nissan car) had allegedly been used by Udaya Devamulla, Weerawansa’s Co-ordinating Secretary from June 9, 2012. On the request of Ruwan Nayanananda, the hiring charge which was Rs. 38,000 had been increased to Rs. 45,000 by the then Chairman Jagath Perera and Lokuhennadige. This car has not been used at any SEC sites or at the head office.

KT-2884 (motor car) had allegedly been used for private work at Pannipitiya, Bellanwila, Horana, Wadduwa and Colombo areas and according to the running charts, the drivers of this vehicle were Ariyawansa and Vishwa Wanshanath. At the inquiry held at SEC in May, 2015, Ariyawansa had stated that he has never driven this vehicle although his name had been put on the running chart to mislead the SEC. On the request of U. E. R. Hettiarachchi, Deputy General Manager (Special Operations), this vehicle had been obtained from N. Sriyani Perera, but had never been released to Hettiarachchi to be used at the Horana SEC site or for any other official work but had been given to an unknown party.

GQ-4894 (Mitsubishi motor car) had allegedly been used for private work at Matara, Kekenadura, Kamburugamuwa, Tangalle and Beliatta. This vehicle had been requested on January 10, 2012 by Deputy General Manager (Constructions) K. A. Shantha Kumara to be used at construction sites. However, Lokuhennadige had obtained the vehicle from N. A. Dayananda for a monthly rental of Rs. 45,000 and given it to an unknown outsider. According to the running charts, this vehicle had never been used for any official work in Colombo or at any of the SEC sites in the country.

GI- 4501(motor car) had allegedly been assigned to Weerawansa’s Co-ordinating Secretary Ranjith Wickremasinghe and had been hired from the latter’s sister, Vajira Manohaari Wickremasinghe on October 24, 2012 for a monthly rental of Rs. 45,000. This vehicle too had not been used for any official work but for Wickremasinghe’s private work.

KQ-9762 (motor car) had allegedly been used by A. N. S. Mendis, Public Relations Officer of Weerawansa. The vehicle had been obtained from Isuru Travels and Tours who had charged Rs. 425,700 from January to October, 2014.

PE-3626 (double cab) had never been driven by SEC driver Chaminda Kumara according to the inquiry report but his name had been mentioned in the running chart fraudulently. This vehicle had allegedly been hired on May 8, 2013 for a rental of Rs. 90,000 from Isuru Travels and Tours. Rs. 1.131 million had been paid from January to September, 2014. It has been revealed that this vehicle too had never been used for SEC work.

KU-9867 (motor car) had allegedly been used by the then Director, Urban Development Authority (UDA) Suresh Indika but had never been used for SEC work, according to the running charts. This had been hired from K. S. E. G. M. Kulathilake on November 5, 2013 for a monthly rental of Rs. 38,000. On a request made by Kulathilake on May 28, 2014, the monthly rental had been increased to Rs. 45,000 by former Chairman Jagath Perera without consulting any official. JE-6557 (motor car) had allegedly been driven by Sampath Madhuranga who was not a SEC employee. This vehicle had been assigned to an unknown party but the payments had been made by the Engineering Corporation and Rs. 478,004 had been paid for January to October 2014. This vehicle too had not been used for any SEC work.

KB- 0638 (motor car) had allegedly been hired from M. B. D. N. Gunawardena on May 9, 2011 for a monthly rental of Rs. 38,000 but on October 1, 2014, the same vehicle had been hired through a new agreement from S. T. Edirisinghe for Rs. 50,000 which had been approved by Lokuhennadige. This vehicle too had not been used for SEC work but had been given to an unknown party.

PD-2563 (motor car) had allegedly been used by Ven. Ittekande Saddhatissa Thera of Ravana Balakaya who was the then Director, National Housing Development Authority NHDA). Although he had been given a separate vehicle from NHDA, he had been given this vehicle as well. This had been obtained from D. S. V. R. Karunaratne for a rental of Rs. 38,000 but through another agreement this had been increased to Rs. 69,000. This vehicle too had not been used for any SEC work. In 2014, SEC had paid Rs. 689,000 from January to October.

KD-4049 (Jeep) had allegedly been obtained from Isuru Tours and Travels on August 1, 2012 for a monthly rental of Rs. 90,000. It had been used by Lalith Pushpakumara who was not a SEC employee. This vehicle too had not been used for SEC work.

HN-4098 (Nissan motor car) had allegedly been used by Weerawansa’s Co-ordinating Secretary Dharmapala. This vehicle had been obtained from D. V. S. R. Karunaratne but had never been used for any SEC work. The Engineering Corporation had paid Rs. 310,000 as hiring charges from January to August, 2014.

GI-0001 (Nissan motor car) had allegedly been used by Sumith Chanaka, Co-ordinating Secretary to the Housing Ministry. This had been obtained from K. G. C. Damayanthi for Rs. 35,000 but had not been used for any SEC related work. Rs. 139,000 had been paid for this vehicle for four months from June to September, 2014.

GN-5767 (van) had allegedly been given to Manju, Private Secretary to the Secretary, National Freedom Front (NFF) Piyasiri Wijenayake. This had been obtained from Ted Lanka on May 13, 2013 and had not been used for any State Engineering Corporation work. SEC had paid Rs. 611,156 as hiring charges from January to October, 2014.

PC- 2896 (double cab) allegedly had been given to an unknown party and had not been driven by any SEC driver. The monthly rental for this double cab was Rs. 90,000 and had been hired from Ruwan Technologies. This vehicle too had not been used for any SEC work. The SEC had paid Rs. 1.275 million as hiring charges from January to November, 2014.

KC-2431 (motor car) had not been used for any SEC work and had been obtained from Isuru Travels and Tours, Moratuwa for a monthly rental of Rs. 38,000. It had allegedly been given to an unknown party and the rental from January to March 2014 was Rs. 124,822.

GQ-9528 (motor car) had allegedly been used by Pradeep Wijesekera, Co-ordinating Secretary to the Housing Ministry. The vehicle had been hired from Isuru Travels and Tours and Rs. 76,411 had been paid as rental for January and February, 2014.

KL-0812 (Toyota motor car) had allegedly been used by Housing Ministry Secretary Wimalasiri Perera but had not been used for any SEC work. Hired from Ted Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, its monthly rental was Rs. 90,000. From January to October, 2014, the CES had paid Rs. 899,000 as its rental.

PC-9097 (double cab) had allegedly been used by Indika, the Co-ordinating Secretary to the Housing Ministry but not used for any SEC work. This had been obtained from K. G. Siripala for a monthly rental of Rs. 45,000. The State Engineering Corporation had paid Rs. 360,000 as its rental from January to August, 2014.

KK-8491 (motor car) had allegedly been given to an unknown party and also had not been driven by any SEC driver. The vehicle had been obtained from Shyamalee Diluka Senanayake on January 12, 2012 and had not been used for any SEC work. Rental fees amounting to Rs. 342,000 had been paid from January to September, 2014 by SEC.

KI-4648 (motor car) had not been driven by a SEC driver and had been given to an unknown party. This vehicle too had allegedly been hired from Isuru Travels and Tours for a monthly rental of Rs. 43,411. This had not been used for any SEC work and Rs. 477,523 had been paid as its rental fee from January to November 2014.

JR-5353 (motor car) had allegedly been used by Ms Isika in the Housing Ministry and had been obtained from G. P. C. C. Weerasuriya for a rental of Rs. 38,000. This vehicle too had not been used for any SEC work.

GY-4635 (Nissan motor car) had allegedly been hired from Gayani Padmaperuma for Rs. 38,000 but who the vehicle was assigned to is unknown. This vehicle too had not been used for any SEC work.

KH-0883 (motor car) had allegedly been given to an unknown party and according to SEC driver A. D. P. Hemachandra, although his name had been written in the running charts, he had never driven this vehicle nor knows to whom it had been assigned. The car had been hired from M. B. H. Muthukumara for Rs. 60,000 but had not been used for SEC work.

Toyota Corolla 301-6830 had allegedly been given to the Deputy Minister, Lasantha Alagiyawanna for his official work in Nittambuwa, Mahara and Gampaha. The vehicle had been obtained from W. M. P. Bandara of Yakkala for Rs. 38,000 but interestingly, the latter’s name had been noted as the vehicle driver. Although this had been used for Lasantha Alagiyawanna’s official work, it had never been used for SEC work.

KO-5871 (Toyota motor car) too had allegedly been used for the Deputy Minister’s official work and had been driven by W. G. Gamini who is not a SEC driver. This had been hired from K. D. U. Jayasena for Rs. 69,000 on March 21, 2014. From March to May, 2014 this vehicle had been used by Deputy General Manager (Finance) and had been driven by SEC driver Sumith Priyantha.

JL-8058 (Toyota Corolla motor car) had allegedly been given to an unknown party and had not been used for any SEC work.

HA-0800 (motor car) had allegedly been hired from Sumudu Enterprises for a monthly rental of Rs. 38,000. It had been assigned to an unknown party and the driver Thushara Mendis was not an SEC employee. This vehicle too had not been used for SEC work or at any of its sites.

KO-1375 is said to have been used for the Chairman’s work but no details were given in the running charts as to where this vehicle had gone. However, according to details available, more than 200km had been run every day. The driver of this vehicle was A. I. Vitharana. According to the Transport Manager I. D. Dayananda, Vitharana was not a SEC employee. Although it says that this vehicle had been used for the Chairman’s work, it has been revealed that this vehicle had not been used for any SEC work.

CAB-9727 (Toyota motor car) had allegedly been used by an unknown party. According to the Transport Manager, the driver Sampath Sigera was not an SEC employee. The vehicle had been hired from A. R. Wickremasinghe of Athurugiriya on February 3, 2014 for Rs. 45,000. However Rs. 555,252 had been paid to Wickremasinghe as its rental from February to November, 2014. This vehicle too had not been used for SEC work. 250-4713 (van) had allegedly been driven by R. S. Perera and R. Eranga but according to Transport Manager I. D. Dayananda, both drivers were not attached to the SEC. This had been hired from D. M. Karunaratne on August 13, 2012 for Rs. 38,000. The vehicle had not been used for any SEC work and had been given to an unknown party.

GF-0787 (motor car) had allegedly been hired from Ajith Sisira Kumara for Rs. 38,000 on April 1, 2014. The vehicle had been given to an unknown party and had not used for any SEC work.

54-5678 (van) too had been given to an unknown party and had not been used for Engineering Corporation work. It had allegedly been hired from L. C. Kumara on July 1, 2013 for a monthly rental of Rs. 43,320.

KM- 0882 (Micro motor car) had allegedly been given to an outsider and the drivers that had driven the vehicle are not SEC employees according to the Transport Manager. The vehicle had been hired from D. B. R. Jayawardena for Rs. 47,820 per month. This had not been used for any official work. LJ- 7909 (lorry) had allegedly been hired from A. H. Kulathunge for Rs. 165,000 per month but had not been used for any SEC work.

According to a letter dated May 2, 2012, Deputy Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna had made a request to Chairman SEC Jagath Perera to hire the lorry for SEC work and to release it to his Mahara office for Gampaha District Development work.

252-1933 (van) had not been used for SEC work and had been hired from Senaka Priyadharshana Ramanayake on March 3, 2011 for Rs. 36,000. Although running charts had not been maintained, Deputy General Manager (Human Resources and Administration) Lokuhennadige had requested Additional Transport Manager through letter dated January 1, 2012 to hire this vehicle for the Deputy Minister’s official work. Later this had been used for monitoring work of Basil Rajapaksa’s Maganeguma project.

PE-3072 (Navara double cab) had allegedly been given to an unknown party and had been driven by an outsider. There are no details as to how much the hiring charges and from whom the vehicle had been hired. However it states that this vehicle had not been used for SEC work.

Deputy Chairman SEC, Mahen Pelpola said that due to mismanagement of State Engineering Corporation funds by Wimal Weerawansa and his group of henchmen, SEC has faced a huge financial crisis and they are struggling even to pay the employees’ monthly salaries.

“The way the previous management obtained vehicles without calling tenders is a fraud. It was the SEC that had to bear the rental, fuel costs and the salaries and overtime of the drivers who had been hired from outside. For the year 2014 the entire cost for these 40 vehicles was more than Rs. 40 million,” Pelpola said.

Wimal Weerawansa did not answer his telephone when we attempted to get his response to the allegations. Although a text message was sent seeking a comment, Weerawansa had not responded at the time of going to press
Sunday Leader

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