Sri Lanka Foreign Minister unravels Gota’s rent scam
ECONOMYNEXT – Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told parliament Wednesday that former defence secretary’s son had illegally occupied a house rented for a consulate in Los Angeles and caused millions of rupees in losses to the state.
The minister said the then defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s only son Daminda Manoj Rajapaksa occupied the rented premises even after the fall of his uncle Mahinda Rajapaksa at the January 2015 presidential election.
"This house had been rented even after our government came to power, but when we got to know about it in July 2015 we stopped it," the minister said during the committee stage discussion on the votes of his ministry.
He said Sri Lankan tax payers had to bear the cost of Daminda Rajapaksa’s water, electricity, gas, cable TV and telephone bills in addition to rent which amounted to 27.69 million rupees for 21 months.
The younger Rajapaksa had no official position with the Sri Lankan foreign ministry, but he had also been provided with two Sri Lankan soldiers for his security.
The opposition JVP wanted the minister to recover the payments from officials who had authorised the payments and Samaraweera said an investigation was underway in to the abuse of state resources during the final years of the Rajapaksa regime.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a lieutenant colonel in the army, secured a discharge from the military in 1991 and lived in Los Angeles and obtained US citizenship. However, he returned in 2005 for his brother’s presidential election campaign and went onto become one of the most feared defence secretaries.
"White-vanned" became a verb during his tenure because a large number of people were kidnapped in ubiquitous white painted vans and in most cases the victims were killed for being either political rivals or suspected Tamil rebels or their supporters. He is also accused of orchestrating the killing of prominent anti-establishment editor Lasantha Wickramatunga, a charge he has publicly denied.
He currently faces charges of causing a loss of 11.4 billion rupees to the state by illegally allowing a private company to operate floating armouries. He also faces allegations of siphoning off millions of dollars from a controversial MiG aircraft purchase deal. (COLOMBO, Nov 30, 2016)