Architect reveals details on Basil’s villa in Malwana | Sunday Observer

Architect reveals details on Basil’s villa in Malwana

24 February, 2019

Information relating to the luxurious villa next to the Kelani river in Malwana which includes swimming pools and a farm on 16 acres owned by former Economic and Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa surfaced for the first time when the case was taken up for trial before the Gampaha High Court.

In the case, charges were filed against misusing state funds and money laundering, naming Basil Rajapaksa as the first accused and Thiru Nadesan, the former owner of the land as the second accused.

The architect Muditha Upali Jayakodi’s evidence was led by Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Thusith Mudalige.

While giving evidence, the architect of the premises made startling revelations about the funds used in the construction. When the DSG inquired as to the progress made by November 2014, the architect said that by then, about 80 percent of the construction work had been completed and about hundred million rupees had been spent by then. The witness attested that the money was provided by Basil Rajapaksa.

He said that Pushpa Rajapaksa had only visited the site twice during the construction, and had instructed the contractors on several issues.

The state’s estimate of the property is Rs. 28 million.

The foundation stone for the villa was laid on February 10, 2013. Pushpa Rajapaksa had also attended the occasion. The witness identified pictures of the premises including the gym, the pool and the cattle in yard during the trial.

The architect has also provided the contractor, Upul Kumara Ramawickrema, with the drawing for the contractor to obtain electricity for the premises. The contractor had applied for the service. When the DSG asked him if he had met astrologer Sumanadasa Abeygunewardena who was gifted a luxury car by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Upali Jayakody said that he had met him on several occasions, including during the construction of a house in Matara, and while laying the foundation stones for the D. A. Rajapaksa Museum and the Malwana premises.

He said that the drawings by him of the premises were handed over to a person at the Basil Rajapaksa’s office when he attended to obtain the approval from the Pradeshiya Sabha.

After he received the approval, I was informed of it from his office, and I sent one of my assistants to collect it from the Pradeshiya Sabha.

The contract has been awarded subsequently for the construction, including the pool and wood work and construction work went until mid 2015. Initial discussions on the construction had taken place at a residence behind the Central Bank. The witness stated that he wasn’t aware if it was a private residence or the official residence of the former Minister who is the first accused of the case.

When questions as to how he received payments for the services, he said that various people would bring him cash and hand it over at his office. “I didn’t personally know any of these people, however, Mr. Basil would call me before he sends someone with cash.”

He said that the second accused, Thirukumar Nadesan, had only contacted him at the time the land was purchased and never during the construction of the villa. After the 2015 Presidential election, Nadesan had contacted the architect and questioned him as to under whose authority he is constructing the house on a land owned by him. By that time Basil Rajapaksa was abroad, hence the second accused was threatening me and tormenting me about the construction. He even tried to sell the land to me forcefully. He threatened to sue me. Finally, Basil Rajapaksa contacted me.

Arrangements were made for my company to purchase the land.When I tried to pay him with the cash I had obtained from Basil Rajapaksa, he refused to take it and ultimately, I obtained an overdraft from my company account and issued a cheque to Nadesan and settled the loan with money I had received from Basil Rajapaksa.

When asked why the witness had made a statement before the Poogoda Magistrate, he said that he was kept in remand custody on an issue that arose regarding a land purchase made for Pushpa Rajapaksa’s sister. “While in remand custody, I decided not to have any relationship, hence I thought of making a statement to the magistrate.”