Sri Lanka

Death threats target Indian investor for expoing corrupt Lankan officials

The Indian investor K.P.Nagaraj, who complained that President Maithripala Sirisena’s Chief of Staff, I. H.K. Mahanama and Chairman of State Timber Corporation P. Dissanayake, had allegedly taken a bribe from him, has informed the Cinnamon Gardens Police that he has been receiving death threats.

On Tuesday morning, an unidentified person visited the Indian businessman’s office, in Colombo 07, and gave his receptionist a two-page letter, threatening him with death. The man also threatened the receptionist.

“The letter has been handed over to the Cinnamon Gardens Police,” the Police Media Unit said.

Executive Director of Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) Executive Director, Keerthi Tennakoon said the Board of Investment and ministries, established for investment promotion, had done nothing to ensure the Indian’s safety. “There is no one to look after investors. They are harassed by politicians and officials alike. How can we promote investment? SSP Priyantha Chandrasiri, Director of the Investigation Division of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption said that they were continuing with their investigations and they had a strong case against Mahanama and Dissanayake.

Two top Government officials arrested last week for accepting a bribe of Rs. 20 million (US$ 126,300) from an Indian businessman have been remanded until 22 May by the Colombo Chief Magistrate.

When the case was called before the Colombo Additional Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala yesterday, the Magistrate ordered to re-remand the Chief of Presidential Staff I. H. K. Mahanama and former Chairman of State Timber Corporation Piyasena Dissanayake.

The Attorney appearing on behalf of the Bribery Commission informed the Court that an individual named Joseph Pillay, who claimed to be a member of the intelligence wing of the LTTE, had come to the office of the plaintiff K. P. Nagaraj, an Indian national, and inquired about the case.

The attorney of the Bribery Commission stated that this could be an effort to influence the investigations, and the plaintiff had complained to the Cinnamon Garden police as well as to the Bribery Commission.

The lawyers appearing for the defense informed the court that the bail applications could be considered as most of the investigations have been completed.

President’s Counsel Rienzie Arsekularatne with Counsel Ajith Pathirana and Udara Muhamdiramge appearing for the suspects moved Court that their clients be released on bail since most of the investigations pertaining to the incident had been concluded.

The investigation initiated with the complaint that I. K. Mahanama had demanded a bribe of Rs. 540 million (US$ 3.4 million) from an Indian investor who was ready to acquire the Kantale sugar factory. Mahanama had been attending to this matter of settling the transaction some time ago while he was the Land Ministry Secretary.

However, the Indian investor had refused to pay the sum stating that it was high and demanded to reduce it. Within several weeks, they allegedly had agreed to accept Rs 100 million (US$ 632,500). The two were arrested at a car park of a luxury hotel (Taj Samudra) in the capital Colombo, on May 3, by the officers of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption while accepting a bribe of Rs. 20 million.

However, the Colombo Additional Magistrate stated that a number of documents needed for the investigations are still at the places where the suspects worked and the Bribery Commission needs sufficient time to carry out further investigations. He added that even though the requests have been made, the documents have not been submitted. The Additional Magistrate further stated that if the suspects were given bail, the investigations could be disrupted.

The Magistrate also ordered the Bribery Commission to expeditiously complete the investigation into the incident against the suspects.

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