Ramanayake urges media to uncover owner of US $1 million property | Sunday Observer

Ramanayake urges media to uncover owner of US $1 million property

Photograph shared by State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake of the four bedroomed Los Angeles home.
Photograph shared by State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake of the four bedroomed Los Angeles home.

State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake made another explosive revelation last week, urging authorities to investigate the recent purchase of a brand-new luxury house and property worth US $1 million in Los Angeles, California, alleging that the home was owned by a presidential hopeful and his family.

The deed of trust on the property had been signed by a Daminda Rajapaksa and Sewwandi Rajapaksa, according to a document shared by Ramanayake at a news conference on Thursday (12) at his residence in the Madiwela MPs quarters.

“The property is at Canyon Road, West Monroe, LA,” Ramanayake told the media, adding that the location was available on the parcel map. He also revealed several documents relating to the property deed and specifications of the luxury home in what he described as an exclusive neighbourhood.

“I urge the members of the media to trace and track who the owner is. Politicians should declare their assets,” the State Minister urged. “If this person becomes president, it will be immensely difficult to investigate these matters”.

The property was purchased in April 2017, Ramanayake said, presenting documents related to the purchase of the home, now valued at US $840,000 or Rs. 151 million. The State Minister did not disclose any evidence that the purchase was made using illicit funds.

“In the aftermath of the 2015 presidential election, bank accounts of past presidents and politicos were being maintained in Dubai. None of these financial institutions will comply with requests by the Government to reveal details about these accounts, that is how these bank accounts operate since customers are gods in their business,” he explained. Ramanayake said friends in the US had sent him the documents and information with regard to the recently purchased luxury property. The State Minister also presented evidence of a Volvo Sedan worth US $24,500. “The motor vehicle report states that the owner of this vehicle was Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” Ramanayake revealed. “Even recently, Gotabaya Rajapaksa had declared his asset and liability details to a Buddhist priest. Correctly speaking, that should have been done to Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, not to priests,” the State Minister charged.

While there is no law requiring asset declarations by presidential candidates or presidents, Rajapaksa, as Defence Secretary, would have been required to file an asset declaration with the Presidential Secretariat each year from 2005 to 2015.

State Minister Ramanayake said he would be lodging a complaint with the CID soon about the matters. The Minister added that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cousin and former Ambassador to Russia and Ukraine, Udayanga Weeratunge had visited Los Angeles on several occasions since 2015. Weeratunge is currently a fugitive from justice in Sri Lanka, with an Interpol red notice in his name over money laundering charges in connection to the controversial 2006 MiG 27 procurement investigation. Investigators have told the Supreme Court and Colombo Fort Magistrates Court that they suspect Weeratunga and others may have embezzled some US $14 million of Sri Lankan Government funds using a shell company based in the British Virgin Islands during the aircraft procurement transaction.

“Weeratunga is known as the godfather of money laundering, and responsible for transferring the funds,” Ramanayake said, adding “that is how he got caught red handed when his passport was flagged since there is an Interpol notice for his arrest.”

The former Defence Secretary has held citizenship in the US since January 2003 and lived and worked in California before returning to Sri Lanka in 2005 to assist his brother’s presidential election campaign and subsequently take over as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence on November 24, 2005.

His family are American citizens residing in Los Angeles, California. Both his son Daminda and daughter-in-law Sewwandi are qualified professionals. Daminda Rajapaksa is an engineering graduate from Duke University, an Ivy League school in the United States. Sewwandi Rajapaksa is a life sciences technician at the University of Southern California.

MP Keheliya Rambukwella, Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s spokesperson, told Sunday Observer that they do not want to take any claims by the State Minister seriously as he is known to make wild allegations. He did not respond directly to the material released by Ramanayake.

“These wild accusations only show the character of persons who make these wild accusations. Just because you get a few microphones anybody can say some crazy things that comes to your mind. Unfortunately it happens to be a Parliamentarian and once Parliamentarians make a statement, it gets given some space in the media. It is very unfortunate because these are things that should be verified and not be published in the first place,” he said.