Pandora Papers : SL Ministers scramble for answers

Sri Lanka Govt Ministers scramble to answer Pandora Papers allegations

by Staff Writer 04-10-2021 | 12:34 PM

COLOMBO (News 1st); Ministers Rohitha Abeywardena and Udaya Gammanpilla padded up when grilled by journalists this morning (4) on the shattering expose made in the Pandora Papers Leak.

Gammanpilla, when questioned, noted that the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption will have to investigate the assets of any politician if they are named in the Pandora Papers.

"I am told that a retired politician connected to a business family has been named," said Gammanpila adding the CIABOC must immediately probe the means these individuals generated wealth.

Minister of Ports, Rohitha Abeygunawardena noted that since these were allegations made against individuals, that investigation would have to be conducted and impartial action taken regardless of who the persons involved are.

"Since this is on one individual, it is not possible to immediately comment as a government on this matter," he said.

Pandora Papers is the biggest leak of tax-haven files in history.

The ‘big' names revealed include globally prominent politicians.

Nirupama Rajapaksa, a former Sri Lankan Minister has been named in the Pandora Papers, the most expansive leak of tax haven files in history.

Her husband, Thirukumar Nadesan, has worked as a consultant and hotel entrepreneur, according to a biography on his company website, quoted by international media.

According to the ICIJ, in 2016, he was charged with embezzlement in connection with a real estate deal involving another member of the president’s family Basil Rajapaksa, accused of using public funds to build a villa.

The case is pending; Nadesan and Basil Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s current finance minister, have denied wrongdoing.

The report goes on to detail that Nirupama Rajapaksa and Nadesan together controlled a shell company they used to buy luxury apartments in London and Sydney, and to make investments, according to leaked files.

Millions of leaked documents and the biggest journalism partnership in history have uncovered financial secrets of 35 current and former world leaders, more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories, and a global lineup of fugitives, con artists and murderers.

The secret documents expose offshore dealings of the King of Jordan, the presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the prime minister of the Czech Republic and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Among the hidden treasures revealed in the documents:

- A $22 million chateau in the French Riviera – replete with a cinema and two swimming pools – purchased through offshore companies by the Czech Republic’s populist prime minister, a billionaire who has railed against the corruption of economic and political elites.

- More than $13 million tucked in a secrecy-shaded trust in the Great Plains of the United States by a scion of one of Guatemala’s most powerful families, a dynasty that controls a soap and lipsticks conglomerate that’s been accused of harming workers and the earth.

- Three beachfront mansions in Malibu purchased through three offshore companies for $68 million by the King of Jordan in the years after Jordanians filled the streets during Arab Spring to protest joblessness and corruption.

The secret records are known as the Pandora Papers.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained the trove of more than 11.9 million confidential files and led a team of more than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets that spent two years sifting through them, tracking down hard-to-find sources and digging into court records and other public documents from dozens of countries.