The newly installed Sri Lanka government has arrested the former Secretary Common of the United National Celebration,(UNP) Tissa Attanayake for allegedly displaying a forged document claiming it to be true. Nevertheless the government has so far failed to arrest Chairman of DCSL Sri Lanka Plc businessman Harry Jayawardena, also identified as “dirty Harry‘, who was named in a Police “B” report by Sri Lanka Police’s Commercial Fraud Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department, Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.
Even though the high profile businessman Harry Jayawardena was questioned by the Police and in spite of the Police obtaining filed a ‘B’ report as far back as November 2013 Jayawardena was in no way arrested by the Police or the case proceeded with.
Businessman Harry Jayawardena has been named by the Sri Lanka Police’s Industrial Fraud Unit of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in connection with a complaint that a forged document was supplied to the Gibraltar based bank ‘SG Hambros’. The businessman, who has been in the news on a range of subjects, is accused by the complainant of obtaining forged a letter purporting it to have been issued by the Company Secretaries.
The Organization Secretaries have denied ever issuing the letter and have confirmed this to the bank in question – and to the Police as well. Though the B Report was filed on the 22nd of November 2013, the Police questioned Harry Jayawardena as late as the first week in January 2014 in the comfort of his personal premises. Jayawardena’s answers had been then put to the complainants who firmly stood by their original complaint as becoming bona fide. The Police are now anticipated to go ahead and file charges against Harry Jayawardena.
Harry Jayawardena is a higher roller: with extensive links and useful ownership of many corporates he was listed as Sri Lanka’s third richest man in 2013. He maintains close links with all political parties he accompanied president Mahinda Rajapaksa right after he addressed the organization gathering in Colombo at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel. Jayawardena was also a high profile presence for the duration of the ceremony for John Ameratunga taking up his new appointment. It did not go amiss that Ameratunga’s ministry is accountable for the Police department.
The existence of the forged document came to light when Harry Jayawardena’s partners Raj Obeyesekere and Zaki Alif received a routine fax from their business bankers in Gibraltar asking for their account to be put into credit. Their company, Milford Exports Ceylon Restricted was confirmed as becoming the useful owner of 5 Gibraltar firms that have been designed and managed by Hambros Bank Nominee solutions under trust arrangements for Milford Exports.
Obeyesekere and Alif have been practically barred from their offices by safety guards employed at the major gates. Most apologetically they have had to tell Obeyesekere and Alif that their orders were to stop their entry to the organization premises – a company to which they have devoted thirty plus years of effort and where they robustly keep their shareholding. Significantly to the chagrin of Raaj Obeyesekere his workplace of far more than 30 years is now occupied by Hasitha Jayawardene – son of the tycoon.
In spite of getting advice from well-placed strategists like by former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa – to “bulldoze their way in” Obeyesekere and Alif have alternatively resorted to the use of eminent legal personalities in their quest to shield their lifetime achievements. Harry J, has apparently carried on regardless and is actively defending these matters in Court.
In documents obtained by the media the Gibraltar Supreme Court received a witness statement from Charles Humbert Gomez in his capacity as a director of Hambros Gibraltar Nominees Limited. Gomez is also a director at Aitken Spence, a blue chip company exactly where the Well-known 4 get pleasure from a considerable indirect shareholding.
Gomez confirms that in 2002 and in subsequent years thereafter, Milford Exports Ceylon Limited (MEL) produced requests for business management and nominee services for Placidrange Holdings Restricted, a Gibraltar firm, whose shares have been to be beneficially owned by MEL. Equivalent written requests had been produced for other Gibraltar companies namely Rubicond Enterprises, Sonetto Holdings, Greenfield Pacific EM Holdings Restricted and Mills Enterprises Restricted. All these arrangements Gomez confirmed had been place in location according to the guidelines received from MEL represented by Harry Jayawardena. Throughout the initial period of setting up, a new organization questionnaire was obtained by Hambros and below details of applicant the names and passport details of Jayawardena and Obeyesekere were provided.
The mandates to operate the account named Jayawardena and Obeyesekere.
In the very same witness statement it has come to be revealed that Hambros ‘took over the accounts with Hatton National Bank plc. of Rubicond and Sonetto and ‘opened bank accounts for Placidrange and Greenfield with the Bank’. Gomez also confirms that Greenfield also purchased a property. Some of the sources we spoke to refer to this transaction as a house in the UAE – though definitive proof was not provided to us.
From the statements produced by Gomez, by Jayawardena himself and by Obeyesekere and Alif too, Harry Jayawardena’s statement created to the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka by way of an affidavit, that he had no interest whatsoever in Greenfield is clearly a blatant falsehood. It is this statement that has led to calls for Jayawardena to be answerable to a question of perjury – unrelated to the forgery charges relating to the forged letter purportedly issued and signed by the Business Secretaries, who have denied that they ever issued such a document.
The magnitude of the greatest fraud in Sri Lanka
A veteran observer of the various stratagems deployed by Jayawardena in his battles with his partners Obeyesekere, Alif and Weinman, says, “to truly recognize the magnitude of what is taking place, a single must realise that the so-known as ‘VAT Fraud’ was identified as possessing an amount of Rs 3.5 Billion in query.
“In this instance the worth of the assets at stake is USD 200 Million – or Rs 26,400,000,000 (Rs 26.4 Billion). For additional comparative purposes, consider that Golden Crucial Credit Card Firm triggered losses to their depositors of Rs 26 Billion. That of course had a depositor base of some 9,054 individuals. In the case of Milford Exports Ceylon Restricted and their assets in Gibraltar, the Rs 26.4 Billion is shared among four shareholders: Harry Jayawardena, Raj Obeyesekere, Zaki Alif and Sonia Weinman”. Jayawardena is disputing that Ms Weinman has shares in Milford Exports amounting to 20% and maintains in his statement to the Court in Gibraltar that her holding is limited to just one particular share. A separate legal case is ongoing in this regard.
Casting aside broadly held perceptions, The Wealthy List 2013 Sri Lanka listed Harry Jayawardena as Sri Lanka’s third richest man with a minimum value of USD 300 Million, behind Sohli Captain (USD 423 Million) and the richest Sri Lankan, Dhammika Perera (USD 538 Million). The book also identified the reality that Jayawardena has just the a single Rs 10 share far more than the other 3 put together. The book refers to the four collectively as “The Well-known Four”.( [email protected])
The Forged Document
The document that was the concentrate of the Police B report was supplied by Harry Jayawardena to SG Hambros in Gibraltar – bankers to Milford Exports Ceylon Restricted.
In the document, Harry Jayawardena states that ‘due to a reorganisation’ of the company a decision was made by the Board to transfer all assets held for the benefit of Milford Exports Ceylon Limited to the individual names of Harry Jayawardena and his wife Priya Jayawardena.
The letter purports to carry an endorsement by the Business Secretaries. Clearly, as the request was asking for the transfer of an asset base of some USD 200 Million – or over Rs 26,000,000,000 (Rs 26 Billion) SG Hambros would have needed some comfort and that comfort would have been offered by the signature of the Firm Secretaries becoming appended to the letter carrying Harry Jayawardena’s signature.
Meanwhile, Raj Obeyesekere and Zaki Alif as effectively as Sonia Weinman were unaware of the moves to appropriate their portion of the Rs 26 Billion fortune held beneath trust arrangements for the benefit of the shareholders of Milford Exports Ceylon Limited.
There had been only 4 recognized shareholders of the organization at that time: Don Harold Stassen Jayawardena, Raj Obeyesekere, Zaki Alif and Sonia Weinman who inherited her shareholding from her late father V.P. Vitachchi.
Sensing grave financial danger, Obeyesekere and Alif contacted the bank to dispute the request and assured the bankers that there was no such restructuring. The bank, employed to dealing in the major with Harry Jayawardena, initially refused to have a dialogue with Jayawardena’s long time enterprise partners, Obeyesekere and Alif.
That situation changed when the duo, acting for and on behalf of the shareholders of Milford Exports Ceylon Restricted, contracted the services of a effectively respected legal team in Gibraltar to petition the bank.
SG Hambros decided to seek guidance from the Gibraltar Courts. The Gibraltar Court ordered that the bank take their instruction not from Jayawardena, Obeyesekere or Alif in any mixture but rather that they take their directions from the majority decision of the Board of Directors of Milford Exports Ceylon Restricted. It was after all the legal entity that instructed the bank in the very first spot.
In the meantime, Harry Jayawardena and his wife each gave undertakings to the Gibraltar Court that they would return the assets to the control of SG Hambros, so that the status quo would be maintained. In essence, the Jayawardenas withdrew their guidelines to the bank to transfer the assets, enabling the bank to sustain the status quo.