By Sandun A. Jayasekera
Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka yesterday alleged that former President and SLPP leader Mahinda Rajapaksa accepted a bribe of USD five million (Rs.900 million) from the Shangri-La land deal. He added that Basil and Namal purchased properties using the money.
He threw an open challenge to Mr. Rajapaksa to declare before November 16 that he did not take such a bribe.
Minister Ranawaka told a news briefing that Mr. Rajapaksa, during his presidency, sold six acres of prime land at Galle Face in December 2010 for USD 75 million which was dirt cheap.
“Mahinda has said he would cut his throat and commit suicide if anyone proved he sold an inch of land in Sri Lanka to a foreigner. Here is documental and judicial evidence to prove beyond doubt how he sold six acres of prime land at Galle Face to Shangri-la hotel chain in Hong Kong outright for USD 75 million. What Mahinda has to do before November 16 is to say he did not do this and not commit suicide,” he said.
“The deal to sell six acres of land in Galle Face for USD 75 million to Shangri-La to construct a five-star hotel was inked on April 29, 2010. Subsequently, TPL Inter and Helliard companies were set up and registered in British Virgin Islands to provide consultancy services to Shangri-La (Colombo project) and a bribe of USD five million had been transferred to this company,” he said.
In addition, another portion of the USD five million of ill-gotten money had been used to purchase properties in Gampaha and Matara. When asked by Daily Mirror as to why these allegations were levelled now, he said they were not new and that court cases had been filed in connection with the matter.
“I must say that court proceedings are slow and lethargic. We will expedite them under a new government led by President Sajith Premadasa,” he said.
According to court proceedings, it was revealed that this money had been deposited in two fixed deposits under the account of Amtrad, a private company.