South Asia

Colombo seeks Delhi’s help in probe against Rajapaksa

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar (left) exchanges files with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena applaud in Colombo on Friday.  

The Sri Lankan government has asked India to help with its investigation against the former regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa for alleged corruption, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told The Hindu.

Speaking here, after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Maithripala Sirisena, Mr. Samaraweera said: “We need the support of various international agencies to unearth the money ‘looted’ by the Rajapaksa family. We have asked India for help in this and quite a few other countries too.” Claiming that the “money has been stashed away internationally,” he said the government was “going to go after Mr. Rajapaksa’s ill-gotten assets.”

> Interview: 'We are going after Rajapaksa’s stolen assets'

The Sirisena government has already launched several investigations into allegations of corruption against Mr. Rajapaksa’s family and associates. While the international spotlight is on the suspended $1.34-billion Colombo Port City project, where several officials have been questioned, members of Mr. Rajapaksa’s government and family have been investigated for cases of banking irregularities, a computer procurement scam, and most recently the “floating armoury case,” where the former Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa had his passport impounded by a court. In all, more than 1,000 complaints have been received by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABC), its newly appointed Director-General Dilrukshi Wickremsinghe told a local newspaper.

However, in an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Mr. Rajapaksa contested all the charges, saying they were part of a government attempt to “harass” him, indicating that the government’s actions against him could spur him to stage a re-entry into Sri Lankan politics. “If they didn’t [pursue these cases], I would have just supported this government. But now they want to probe, put us in jail, take our passports. They have no evidence. How can I retire like this?” he said. Mr. Rajapaksa also said the government had had to withdraw some of the cases for lack of evidence, including a case against his son Yoshitha Rajapaksa for an illegal airplane which turned out to be false.

> Read the full interview

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 12:53:33 PM |

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