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Two months after Prez called for report from CIABOC on Pandora Papers: Nirupama yet to appear before investigators

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former lawmaker Nirupama Rajapaksa, named in Pandora Papers that dealt with secret financial transactions, is yet to appear before the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruptions (CIABOC).

Secretary to the CIABOC, Apsara Caldera yesterday (03) confirmed that the outfit hadn’t been able to obtain a statement from the former MP before it handed over an interim report on the issue at hand to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Oct. 06 asked for a report within a month from the CIABOC as regards disclosures pertaining to the financial dealings of Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan. The CIABOC recorded a lengthy statement from Nadesan.

Director General, CIABOC, High Court judge Damith Wijeyaratne was not available for comment yesterday.

The CIABOC promised to get back to The Island though DG’s Office failed to do so up to the time this edition went to press. The CIABOC consists of retired Supreme Court Justice Eva Wanasundera, retired Appeals Court Justice Deepali Wijesundera and retired DIG Chandra Nimal Wakista, one-time head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS).

According to the Pandora Papers, it is alleged that Nirupama Rajapaksa and Thirukumar Nadesan together controlled a shell company the couple used to acquire luxury apartments in London and Sydney and to make investments.

It is alleged that Nadesan set up other shell companies and trusts in various jurisdictions, and he used them to secure lucrative consulting contracts from foreign companies doing business with the Sri Lankan government and to buy artwork.

According to the Pandora Paper leaks, in 2018, one of the companies, Pacific Commodities, transferred 31 paintings and other South Asian art pieces to the Geneva Freeport, an ultra-secure warehouse where assets are not subject to taxes or duties.

In confidential emails to Asiaciti Trust, a Singapore-based offshore services provider, a long-time adviser of Nadesan’s put his overall wealth, as of 2011, at more than $160 million. ICIJ acknowledged that it couldn’t independently verify the figure. It was alleged that Asiaciti Trust managed some of Nadesan’s offshore companies and trusts, with assets valued at about $18 million, according to an ICIJ analysis.

Subsequently, Pandora Papers revealed transactions carried out by R. Paskaralingam one-time Ministry Secretary and advisor to late Presidents Ranasinghe Premadasa, and D.B. Wijetunga and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe using similar loopholes.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told The Island that in spite of the seriousness of Pandora Papers revelations, the investigations were continuing at a snail’s pace. The government owed an explanation how the former MP evaded the police for so long. Lawmaker Dissanayake said that the government should have ordered a multi-agency inquiry instead of calling for an interim report from the CIABOC. The JVPer asked whether the government was genuine in its efforts to ascertain the truth as regards Pandora Papers’ disclosure.



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Holy month of Ramadan begins for Muslims around the world

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A Palestinian girl cleans the stone floor of the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary in front of the Dome of the Rock, as part of preparations for the holy month of Ramadan in Jerusalem's Old City (pic Aljazeera)

Aljazeera reported that the holy month of Ramadan began at sundown on Wednesday, as the faithful prepared for a month of dawn-to-dusk fasting intended to bring them closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.

For the next 30 days, Muslims will refrain from eating or drinking anything from sunrise to sunset. Many will strictly observe prayers, read the Quran and donate to charity as they seek to draw closer to God. They are also encouraged to refrain from cursing, fighting, gossiping and road rage throughout the holy month.

Muslims believe God began revealing the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan more than 1,400 years ago.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and is required for all Muslims, though exceptions are made for young children and the sick, as well as women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating. Travelers are also exempt, including athletes attending tournaments away from home.

 

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Sri Lanka will have best anti-corruption law in South Asia soon – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe said during a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat with the heads of media organization on Thursday (23),  that  necessary steps will be taken to pass the best anti-Corruption Act in South Asia in Parliament soon

The President revealed that cabinet approval for the Bill has already been granted and said that he will discuss it with the Opposition representatives in the future and present it to the Parliament.

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Public sector will stop engaging in business and open it to the private sector in the future – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that due to the public sector engaging in business activities, the money that was available for the construction of 100 projects similar to the Mahaweli during the past decades, has been lost and  noted that in the future, the public sector will stop engaging in business and open it to the private sector to create a free and productive economy.

President Wickremesinghe mentioned this at the 71st commemoration ceremony of the late Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake at Independence Square on Wednesday (22).

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