Feb 11, 2017

FCID Chief narrowly escapes arrest in America Featured

During the Rajapaksa regime, a house had been rented purportedly for use as the Sri Lankan consulate in LA, but it had never been used as an office. Instead it had been used for the private purpose of the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s son. The FCID commenced investigations into this matter and the FCID Chief DIG Ravi Waidyalankara and IP Anura Premaratne had gone to the US to conduct investigations into the alleged misappropriation of funds, but had narrowly escaped from being arrested by the American FBI.

The FCID had expected to interrogate and obtain statements from the former then Consular General in LA, Malraj de Silva and the former Defence Secretary’s personal assistant Brigadier Jayantha Ratnayake.

Malraj had turned down requests to come to Sri Lanka for a statement and also rejected the FCID request to meet with them in Washington to obtain his statement.

Eventually, the FCID Chief and the other officer had agreed to meet Malraj at his residence to obtain his statement, but they were not allowed to question him based on his rights as a US citizen.

FBI questioning:

When the FCID officers had arrived at the agreed location to question Malraj, they were confronted by two FBI lawyers who had denied them the opportunity to question him stating that they had no authority to question a US citizen.

Although the DIG had informed them that they had obtained the permission of the State Department for the questioning, the FCID officials were notified that they had absolutely no right to question a US citizen and that it was in violation of the US laws, which could result in the Sri Lankan officials being taken into custody.

However, being availed a small window of opportunity DIG Waidyalankara and the IP had immediately rushed to the Sri Lankan High Commission in Washington and made arrangements to return to Sri Lanka the same day.

It is reported that the duo had even left back the bag containing the documents pertaining to the investigation as there was a possibility of them being arrested at the airport.

It is a coincidence that the former Defence Secretary too is currently in the US.

Acting without proper understanding:

Due to officials of the FCID and the Bribery Commission officials ignorance of international laws, several other investigations too have been hampered.

One such incident was where the local authorities were unable to receive any information on the alleged bank accounts of the Rajapaksa’s in Dubai.

However, despite the hiccup in obtaining statements from the US parties, the two military personnel who were deployed for security duties at the LA Consular building were interrogated by the FCID recently.

Last Thursday, the FCID had also obtained a court order preventing them from leaving the country.

It has been revealed that the two military personnel were deployed for Presidential security detail and it was totally illegal for them to be assigned for security duties at the LA Sri Lanka consulate.

It is reported that the former Defence Secretary had deployed these personnel for duty disregarding proper procedures according to his own whims and fancy.

For his son’s security:

This house that was rented on the pretext of being used as the Consulate in LA had never been used for the said purpose but the Foreign Ministry had been paying $ 8,000 monthly as rent for over two years.

It is also reported that there is documented evidence to suggest that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s son had been utilising this premises for his personal use until March 2015.

The two military personnel had also been deployed for the protection of the former Defence Secretary’s son.

They had been receiving wages from both the Army and the Foreign Ministry.

Mangala’s complaint:

Investigation into this issue had commenced subsequent to a complaint lodged with the FCID by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on December 3 last year.

In his complaint the Foreign Minister had stated that in addition to the rent, internet charges, electricity and water bills too were borne by the Foreign Ministry. He had further stated that upon assuming office his Ministry had to pay $ 10,000 as payments after returning the premises.

According to police sources, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is scheduled to be arrested upon his return to the country, in connection with the allegations of misappropriation of funds in the MiG deal and the renovations of the D.A. Rajapaksa memorial.

Gota to be arrested?

However, despite speculation, it has been revealed that President Sirisena had informed the Prime Minister and other senior ministers that Gotabhaya should not be arrested. According to the President, it would stir unwanted issues at this point. However he had asked the officials to look into whether charges could be filed against Gotabhaya without him being arrested.

However, as the FCID procedure is to arrest the suspects being investigated, it is highly doubtful if charges can be initiated without Gota being arrested.