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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Sri lanka: The Lives The Weerawansas Enjoy!

By Nirmala Kannangara

Controversy surrounds over how an owner of a small telecommunication centre became a millionaire within a short span of six years. Complaints have been lodged recently with the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption against the leader of the National Freedom Front and former Minister of Housing and Construction Wimal Weerawansa.

After the complaint was lodged, startling revelations have come out how Weerawansa is enjoying a super luxury life and questions have been raised as to how the former minister accumulated such a vast wealth within no time when his sole income was the ministerial salary and the other perks a government minister is entitled to.

Weerawansa is accused of acquiring wealth to own one mansion and to construct the second in the same compound worth over Rs.70 million at Mangala Mawatha in Hokandara South.

Amongst the allegations levelled against Weerawansas are: from where he got money to construct two houses in Hokandara? How did he earn money to get a 25-room hotel on a 13-acre land in Waga, Padukka? Who gave money for Weerawansa’s wife to own a garment factory in Kalutara? Where did the money come from to own shares of a production house in Polwatte, Pannipitiya? etc.

Weerawansas daughter’s birth certificate where dates of birth of Weerawansa and his wife’s have been changed
Weerawansas daughter’s birth certificate where dates of birth of Weerawansa and his wife’s have been changed

Weerawansas daughter’s birth certificate where dates of birth of Weerawansa and his wife’s have been changed

Meanwhile Mayor of Kaduwela G.H. Buddhadasa told The Sunday Leader that he approved Weerawansa’s house plan in 2009. Buddhadasa claimed that from the time the council approved the house plan, Weerawansa used his ministerial powers to overlook the regulations, change the plan and construct the house.

“I do not exactly remember under whose name the house plan was approved but it was for the Weerawansas. At first I approved the housing plan of which floor extent was closer to 4,500 square feet. While the construction was going on, it was inspected and revealed that it was increased closer to 7,000 square feet,” Buddhadasa said.

He further said that the ground floor consisted of two bedrooms with attached toilets, three verandahs, a large hall, dining room, laundry and storeroom, a large garage, servant quarters, toilets and a pantry. The second floor consists of three bedrooms with attached toilets and large balconies, a large hall, pantry and a dining room.

Weerawansa’s only asset was a four-perch land in Millegahawatte, Pahala Biyanwila that also a property of his wife,” Buddhadasa claimed.

He further alleged that although the extent of the Hokandara South land was 30 perches at the time the building plan was approved, it has now increased to 80 by encroaching on adjoining lands chasing away the neighbourhood. “A few families I know personally complained to me that Weerawansa acquired their lands forcibly and his wife paid them a pittance. The parapet wall around this land alone cost nearly Rs.10 million. When he was a JVP member, he had to donate whatever the salary he obtained to the party’s common fund. It was only in April 2008, Weerawansa left JVP and got a ministerial portfolio,” Buddhadasa alleged.

Accusing Weerawansa of slinging mud at him that he (Buddhadasa) was a cashier of a small hotel in Pettah, the Kaduwela Mayor said that he was not only a cashier but waiter as well in a hotel in Pettah that he owns jointly with his cousin brother.

“I am not ashamed to tell that I worked as a cashier and waiter. Now Weerawansa says he has sent me a letter of demand seeking Rs. 500 million. Although he claims he sent a letter of demand I am yet to receive it. I would be the happiest person to meet Weerawansa in court as I want to expose this big mouth politician who ruined President Rajapaksa’s political career in open courts. I have all the necessary documents to prove what Weerawansa is,” Buddhadasa said.

Weerawansa’s mansion at Mangala Mawatha, Hokandara which is under construction
Weerawansa’s mansion at Mangala Mawatha, Hokandara which is under construction

Meanwhile Attorney-at-Law Namal Rajapaksa who was a candidate at the just concluded presidential election told The Sunday Leader that he was ready to prove allegations against Weerawansa if the Bribery Commission inquires the complaint that he (Namal) lodged two weeks ago against the former minister.

“Before the time when he extended his support to the government (Before April 8, 2008), Weerawansa owned only a small communication centre in Mawaramandiya. His wife’s family gave money for their day-to-day expenses. Up until the time he defected from the JVP and extended his support to Mahinda Rajapaksa, he had to give his MP salary to the JVP funds. He was able to keep his salary for himself only after crossing over to the government,” Rajapaksa said.

Rajapaksa further alleged that Weerawansa’s wife owns the garment factory ‘Rich Look’ and added that he has appointed his party officer to the Housing and Construction Ministry as a field officer and Mohommed Muzamil, the spokesman of Weerawansa’s political party, was appointed a Director to one of the boards under his ministry.

Two Id cards and  two passports
Meanwhile Weerawansa’s wife R.R.M.S. Udayanthi Ranasinghe who goes as Shirsha Udayanthi and Shashi Weerawansa is accused of using two passports and two national identity cards. The Sunday Leader is in possession of all the documents to prove the allegations and how the husband and wife got their date of birth changed a few years ago.

According to Weerawansa’s daughter’s birth certificate in which the informant’s name is given as Wimal Weerawansa of 570/ 5A, Mawaramandiya, Siyambalape, father’s date of birth has been given as March 7, 1965 and mother’s name as Ranasinghe Randunu Mudiyanselage Shirsha Udayanthi Ranasinghe and the date of birth given as February 1, 1967. However father’s date of birth in the daughter’s birth certificate has been amended on December 10, 2008 as March 7, 1970. Separately the mother’s name and date of birth have been amended on March 28, 2011 in the daughter’s birth certificate as Randunu Mudiyanselage Shehasha Udayanthi Ranasinghe and the date of birth as February 3, 1971.

This paper is in possession of Shehasha Udayanthi alias Shashi Weerawansa’s original birth certificate and the marriage certificate that give the correct date of births. It is questionable why Weerawansa and his wife changed their dates of birth.

Questions have been raised how Shashi Weerawansa obtained a diplomat passport although ministerial wives are not entitled to have the prestigious red passport.

“This is strictly illegal. First we have to find out how Weerawansas got the diplomat passport and who approved it. The person who approved Shashi Weerawansa a diplomat passport has violated the immigration laws of the country. In addition to obtain a second passport with a forged NIC, the Weerawansas have misled and cheated the Department of Immigration and Emigration as well as the Department of Registrations of Persons by producing forged documents. It is up to the departments to take immediate legal actions against Shashi Weerawansa for misleading these two departments which is an offence under the penal code,” close friend of Weerawansa said.

Passport number N1284124 of Shashi Weerawansa has been obtained on May 24, 2004 and its NIC number

was given as 675320233V and the date of birth as February 1, 1967. For the diplomatic passport, Weerawansa

has submitted the NIC number as 715344696V and the passport number is D3642817 and the date of birth given

as February 3, 1971.

Meanwhile startling revelations shows how Shashi Weerawansa has invested a sum of Rs.11.7 million with Sudharma Neththikumara, the owner of Salaka group under the name of one of her friends and obtained an interest from May 2007 up to 2012.

“When this money was invested, Shashi Weerawansa has said that the money belonged to the JVP international fund. This was the time the JVP left the then government and Weerawansa extended his support to the former President. It is said that Neththikumara has agreed to pay Shashi Weerawansa 3% per month and has given promissory notes to the value of Rs.11.7 million.

‘It is up to the Bribery Commission to investigate into the way Weerawansa’s got this money as they did not have any extra income other than Wimal Weerawansa’s MP salary and subsequently the ministerial salary.

Shashi Weerawansa’s lifestyle came to light when Weerawansa was in the JVP as the wife was engaged in small business ventures. First they opened a communication centre “Sashini” and then a tiny dress boutique ‘Sha Fashions’. Since these shops were unprofitable, they were closed down. She even holidayed in Disneyland when Weerawansa said in parliament that he has never been to Sigiriya to prove that he does not have money even to go to Sigiriya,” sources alleged.

According to the sources, although Shashi Weerawansa allegedly invested the said money in Neththikumara’s business under a name of one of her (Shashi) close confidant, Shashi Weerawansa reportedly wanted Neththikumara to draw the cheques when settling the money in favour of R.M.S.U. Ranasinghe which is Shashi’s full name in initials. She was reportedly en-cashed these cheques – a proof that she owned a big amount of money.

Meanwhile it was against this same politician that proof emerged few years ago of an alleged sexual harassment of a 24-year-old girl from Polonnaruwa to whom he secured a job at the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL).

Weerawansa was accused of allegedly requesting sexual favours from this girl for getting her a job and later abused the girl in filth when it was leaked to the media. Later she was transferred to ANCL Anuradhapura branch and her fate thereafter is unknown.

Meanwhile, Weerawansa was further accused of using Air Force aircraft on 10 occasions during the presidential election campaign putting burden on to the taxpayers. Weerawansa’s air travel has cost the country Rs. 5.98 million. He has flown to Ampara from Ratmalana in Y-12 aircraft on December 20, 2014 and he has gone on two trips – one to Moneragala, Walasmulla, Buttala, Kegalle and back to Ratmalana and again from Ratmalana to kegalle and back to Ratmalana on December 21, 2014 in B-412 and Y-12 aircraft respectively.

According to the Air Force report, Weerawansa has further travelled to Kandy from Colombo on January 1, 2015 in B-412 aircraft and on January 2, he has travelled to Kandy, Kantale, Sigiriya and back to Ratmalana in aircraft B-412. The same day he has once again travelled to Hiniduma from Ratmalana and has returned in aircraft Y-12. On January 5 Weerawansa has flown to Weerawila, Matara, Ambalangoda, Matugama and has returned to Ratmalana in MI 17 aircraft.
The Sunday Leader


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