Date
21 September 2017
President Maithripala Sirisena vows to take legal action against his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers if investigations show they are involved in corruption. Photo: Reuters
President Maithripala Sirisena vows to take legal action against his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers if investigations show they are involved in corruption. Photo: Reuters

Sri Lanka to probe Rajapaksa financial deals

Sri Lanka’s new government will investigate all financial deals sealed by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers during his term as head of state and will take legal action if they involved any corruption, Reuters reported.

Also, President Maithripala Sirisena has reinstated controversial war-time army chief Sarath Fonseka as general and removed punishments imposed on him by the previous regime, BBC News reported.

Rajapaksa lost his bid for a third term in an election on Jan. 8 after a campaign that had focused on misuse of public funds and on his powers and those of his family members, many of whom held public office during his decade in power.

“All the alleged deals by the Rajapaksas will be investigated,” government spokesman Rajitha Senarathne, who is also health minister, told reporters.

Rajapaksa and his brothers have denied any wrongdoing.

Senarathne said former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who oversaw the military defeat of Tamil Tiger separatists after a 26-year war, was alleged to have maintained a “private military” with a floating armory.

Police on Sunday seized more than 3,000 weapons in 20 containers from the armory, run by private security firm Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt.) Ltd. and docked in the southern port of Galle.

The police also found 151 arms in a cache on Tuesday maintained by state-owned Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Ltd. in a Colombo convention center where Pope Francis attended an inter-faith meeting during his visit to Sri Lanka last week.

Senarathne said a further 3,000 weapons had gone missing from the Colombo cache.

“A private firm can’t have so many weapons … They could stage an armed rebellion very easily. We have stopped these operations,” he said.

The former defense secretary has denied the allegations.

A second brother of the ex-president, former economic development minister Basil Rajapaksa, faces allegations of misusing state resources during the election, Senarathne said.

Basil Rajapaksa left for the United States where he has citizenship soon after the election, and could not be reached for comment.

The government is also reviewing all large Chinese-funded infrastructure projects signed under Rajapaksa to check whether their prices were inflated.

Meanwhile, the government has restored Fonseka’s right to vote and stand in elections, the BBC said. His rights were removed after he was jailed for corruption and other crimes.

Fonseka and the former president oversaw a military campaign against Tamil rebels, before they had a falling-out.

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CG

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