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I have no hidden or unlawful assets, says Rohitha Rajapaksa

5 months ago

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  • Tells ‘The Morning’ he’s ready to divulge all details on Sinharaja Green Eco Lodge
  • Aragalaya’ group complains to CID, alleges Rohitha guilty of money laundering  
BY Dinitha Rathnayake    As a complaint was filed against him with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)  yesterday (30), Rohitha Rajapaksa, the son of former President and former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, told The Morning he has no hidden or unlawful assets and that he is ready to declare all details related to the Sinharaja Green Eco Lodge, which he partly owns, if needed. “I’m prepared to declare all details with the authorities if needed as there are no hidden or unlawful assets of mine. I would love to clear my name from all this political drama,” he said. When inquired about the allegations related to the lodge and his brother Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Rohitha Rajapaksa said: “What they claimed to be his (Yoshitha Rajapaksa’s) property is a different venue. This property is in the Kolonna area in the Ratnapura District and not in the Sinharaja area and the name is also misleading. My brother (Yoshitha Rajapaksa) has even filed a defamation suit against the accuser.” Meanwhile, the “Sarvapaakshika Aragalakaruwo” (All-Party Activists of the Struggle) movement filed a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to ascertain the truth about the alleged resort owned by Rohitha Rajapaksa yesterday. The complaint says that regarding the hotel, “it was initially stated that it belongs to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Yoshitha Rajapaksa, but that information was denied by Yoshitha Rajapaksa. We believe that this incident and the circumstances surrounding it will cause consternation to the people of this country because as far as we know, Rohitha Rajapaksa is not engaged in any kind of work, and there is no evidence that his father was engaged in any private job during the time when he was the Prime Minister or the President or in those Governments.  “In such a backdrop, the people of this country, including us, are surprised that Rohitha Rajapaksa is the owner of such a very high-valued resort. However, as per Section 4(b) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, No. 05 of 2006, this Sinharaja Green Eco Lodge resort cannot be a property acquired out of his known income or receipts. We allege that he is guilty of money laundering under Section 3 of the said Act,” the complaint said. Meanwhile, a total of 21 suspects who were arrested on charges of having set fire to and stealing property from the hotel in Kolonna have been enlarged on bail. Speaking to The Morning, the Kolonna Police claimed that all the suspects who had been granted bail had stolen property from and set fire to the said hotel in the Gongalakanda area on 10 May. A total of four suspects had been arrested on 22 and 23 August by officials from the Kolonna Police Station. They were identified as residents of Kolonna, aged between 25 and 50 years. When inquired, the Kolonna Police said that the Sinharaja Green Eco Lodge is owned by Soysa and Rohitha Rajapaksa. The Kolonna Police is conducting further investigations, and more are expected to be arrested in connection with the incident. Previously, Sajeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform alleged that a hotel named the Sinharaja Green Eco Lodge was causing great damage to the Sinharaja ecosystem through the development of a road leading to the hotel, and that the hotel project is linked to Yoshitha Rajapaksa.  “Until recently, the hotel operated under the name Sinharaja Green Eco Lodge, which was the name given to the hotel by the first owner. However, the board has been removed now, and a by-road leading to the hotel is being repaired. This is a 1.5-kilometre stretch of road. Those constructing the road are excavating the forest for the soil to be used to expand the road. There are a number of species of lizards, geckos, amphibians, snakes, and frogs that only live in this area, and most of them face a severe threat of extinction,” he claimed.  The hotel is situated near the Sinharaja Forest Reserve on the eastern slope of the Gongala Mountain at the Boraluwage Aina Grama Niladhari Division in the Kolonna Divisional Secretariat in the Ratnapura District. The initial owner of the hotel, which spans around 12 acres, was a person called Roshan Wijesinghe, the owner of Asiri Cake, Deniyaya.  “The property was later bought by Soysa, an employee of the Rajapaksa family. Wijesinghe apparently had to sell the property under pressure for Rs. 40 million. Soysa is currently in charge of the management of the property. Several other nearby lands too have been purchased by associates of Yoshitha Rajapaksa, on his behalf, following the acquisition of the hotel,” alleged Chamikara.  “Moreover, the Hayes Estate had donated 20 acres of tea land that adjoined the hotel. This donation followed moves by Yoshitha Rajapaksa to take over the entire estate. A director of the Mathurata Plantation Company had proposed the donation of 20 acres as a ploy to prevent Yoshitha Rajapaksa from taking over the entire estate.” When contacted by The Morning at the time, Sinharaja Green Eco Lodge owner Soysa claimed that this was just a personal and political issue created by villagers and people involved in politics. When questioned about his relationship with the Rajapaksa family, he declined to comment, saying that it was his personal business and not something he wished to comment on to The Morning. He added that the developments in Gongala have no relation to the Sinharaja Green Eco Lodge, and that they have other access routes to reach the place. Speaking to The Morning at the time, Yoshitha Rajapaksa said that he had no connection to the Sinharaja Green Eco Lodge, adding that this case had been brought forward by an environmentalist a year ago, and that he (Yoshitha Rajapaksa) had also sent a letter of demand against the same person last year, through his lawyers.  “Since this issue was not publicly raised after that, I did not take any action. I have no lands in Sinharaja, and neither does the said lodge belong to me. I have no personal connection with Soysa.” He also claimed that he was dragged into the matter due to his political background.

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