Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and his family leased out a penthouse at Monarch Residencies for eight months with the monthly lease rental Rs.1.45 million being paid by Arjun Aloysius, a key witness revealed at the PCoI proceedings yesterday.
Testifying at the PCoI, Construction Company Director Anika Wijesuriya said she had owned a Penthouse at Monarch Residencies in Kollupitiya which she wanted to rent-out during December, 2015.
Subsequently, in early January, 2016, former finance minister Ravi Karunanayake and his wife Mela had inquired from the witness' brother about renting the apartment. Later the witness contacted Ms. Karunanayake and carried out initial negotiations about renting the apartment.
It was revealed that the Karunanayake family was looking for an apartment to stay during the renovations being carried out at their residence in Rajamalwatte, Kotte.
Ms. Wijesuriya had later asked Ms. Karunanayake to visit the apartment to examine it. It was revealed that during the examination Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. owner Arjun Aloysius had also arrived at the apartment and had assured the witness that he would lease out the apartment.
Ms. Wijesuriya said she was aware at the time that Mr. Aloysius would be the lessor while the Karunanayake family occupied the apartment.
The witness also explained that she developed a friendship with Mr. Aloysius and his wife before the lease agreement was signed.
When questioned by the PCoI, the witness said the apartment was leased at a monthly rental of Rs.1.45 million.
The lease agreement amounted to Rs.7.3 million while an additional Rs.1.4 million was paid to the witness by cash.
Ms. Wijesuriya said she entered into a lease agreement with the Company called Walt and Row Pvt Ltd, to which the Rs.7.3 million was transferred by the Perpetual Capital Holdings Pvt Ltd, to be paid to her.
The witness confirmed that the Karunanayake family occupied the penthouse.
In July, 2016, there was news published on websites regarding the incident highlighting the Karunanayake family occupying an apartment, with the rental paid by Mr. Aloysius.
In the wake of media reports, the witness revealed that Mr. Aloysius had asked her to destroy the lease agreement.
“He said he destroyed his copy of the lease agreement and asked me to do the same, but I was confused with the request because the documentation would generally be available at the public records room and did not do what he asked me to do,” the witness said.
She said she also contacted Ms. Karunanayake afterwards and talked about the media reports and their negative impact on her as the owner of the apartment.
The witness said she had asked Ms. Karunanayake to either purchase the apartment or vacate it considering the circumstances.
However, the witness said she allowed the Karunanayake family to occupy the apartment for another two months allocating the refundable deposited money into it because the renovations of their residence were not concluded.
Then the witness had called Mr. Aloysius and informed about the extension of the lease agreement.
The witness said the Karunanayake family later conveyed their willingness verbally to buy the apartment and settled on a price of Rs.165 million.
She said a Company known as Global Transportation and Logistics Pvt Ltd, in which Ms. Karunanayake and her daughter Onella were directors, purchased the apartment in September 2016.
When questioned by DSG Yasantha Kodagoda who led the evidence in chief, the witness revealed that Ravi Karunanayake had phoned her father last Saturday prior to testifying at the PCoI.
President’s counsel Kalinga Indatissa also crossexamined the witness. (Shehan Chamika Silva)