New Delhi: An investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has alleged that former Sri Lankan minister Namal Rajapaksa — son of current PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and nephew of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa — received more than a million euros in payoffs from Australian medical firm Aspen.
Namal has denied the allegations, as has Aspen. The PM’s son resigned as minister of youth and sports last month alongside most of the cabinet in the face of continuing mass protests against the government over the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, marked by high inflation, food and medicine shortages.
The ABC investigative programme Four Corners has alleged that Aspen Medical, a company with no experience in large-scale healthcare projects, laundered millions of dollars from a hospital project in Hambantota in the south of Sri Lanka — the district where the Rajapaksa family comes from.
The investigation claims that Aspen Medical’s first transaction in Sri Lanka, worth 1.4 million Euros, was paid to a “mysterious” company named Sabre Vision Holdings in the British Virgin Islands — a British Overseas Territory that’s one of the world’s leading tax havens.
According to the investigation, Sabre Vision is “secretly owned” by Nimal Perera, a Sri Lankan businessman close to the Rajapaksa family. In 2016, Perera confessed to collecting money for Namal, leading to the latter’s arrest.
Aspen Medical has denied the allegations, saying it had “never been contacted by any authorities, in Australia or elsewhere, about these matters, [or] individuals mentioned in the programme or Sabre Vision Holdings.”
The opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party Wednesday alleged that further payoffs were made in construction projects involving Namal. The party said that Perera’s Sabre Vision had received Euro 4.33 million from NR Projects and another US$555,000 from Aspen, which were then routed to an account held by Namal.
Namal has denied the allegations, tweeting,“Once again a documentary has surfaced with allegations that myself & my family are connected to a transaction between 2 companies that we have no clue abt…”
Once again a documentary has surfaced with allegations that myself & my family are connected to a transaction between 2 companies that we have no clue abt, the yahapalana Govt accused me of many things for which I am still going to court. None have any connection to this!
— Namal Rajapaksa (@RajapaksaNamal) May 2, 2022
Perera, meanwhile, tweeted, “Sabre Vision Holdings was a subsidiary of a diversified business entity founded in 1918 in Sri Lanka & not owned by me”.
Sabre Vision Holdings was a subsidiary of a diversified business entity founded in 1918 in Sri Lanka & not owned by me, though I was named a beneficiary when the company I was employed acquired the company in question & appointed me as the Managing Director.
— Nimal Perera (@nimalhperera) May 2, 2022