Sri Lanka to confiscate mansions, millions, linked to Rajapaksa regime

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will confiscate ‘ownerless’ mansions built during the Rajapaksa regime whose registered holders have disclaimed them and more than a million dollars equivalent lying in a bank account that also has no owner, a government minister said.

Court has ordered Rs157 million (about $1.07 million) lying at Colombo-based Pan Asia Bank to be transferred to an account at the central bank, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

The cash had apparently been remitted to Sri Lanka from Singapore, he said.

The money was in the name of an account belonging to Amtrad, a private company, he said.

The funds had come to light as part of investigations by the police Financial Crimes Investigation Division into Carlton Sports Network, a television channel connected to ousted President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Yoshitha.

But Amtrad had disclaimed ownership of the cash, Senaratne said.

Amtrad, a company that supplied concrete paving tiles to government projects, was bought by Ascot Holdings, a firm in which Yoshitha Rajapaksa and his brother were among the top 15 shareholders in 2011.

Nimal Perera, Chairman of Pan Asia Bank, is a top shareholder of Ascot.

Minister Senaratne said a mansion near the capital Colombo, suspected to be owned by former Minister Basil Rajapaksa and in the name of Tiru Nadesan who is an in-law of the extended Rajapaksa family, had denied ownership.

"The government will take it over and use it as a police training centre," Senaratne said.

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In Matara in Southern Sri Lanka, another land in an upmarket areas called ‘Brownhill’, also alleged to be connected to Basil Rajapaksa will be taken over to be used as a tourism training centre, he said.

"This land is worth millions. Brownhill is a top neighbourhood, like Colombo 7," he said referring to posh residential area in the capital.

"The government is taking them over because they are ownerless," he said.

Rajapaksa has been questioned by the police and is currently on bail over several probes.

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