Citrus Leisure claims Lokuhetty not CEO at Serene Pavilions; denies link to alleged assault

Monday, 14 October 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Citrus Leisure PLC yesterday claimed that veteran hotelier Anura Lokuhetty is no longer the CEO of Serene Pavilions and denied any link to the alleged assault on the latter. Giving a new twist to the protracted dispute over shareholding of luxury resort Serene Pavilions, Lokuhetty complained to the Police on Friday of an assault and kidnap by armed thugs for a few hours before he was released by the very abductors with threats to his life. Police have made some arrests and carrying out investigations. Parties to the dispute said there were contradictory statements in Lokuhetty’s statements to the Police whilst his detail account of the Friday’s ordeal to the media via email sent from his hospital bed at Panadura Hospital on Saturday too was somewhat ambiguous though terrifying. This dispute amongst the shareholders is before the judiciary and there is an order given by the Commercial High Courts Colombo on 18 September to maintain the status quo. The case will be again heard on 1 November. Another case is expected to be taken up later this week. Citrus Leisure in a statement said the company was appointed by the Board of Directors of Serene Pavillions Ltd. to take over the management of the property from 11 October 2013. A letter to this effect, followed by a formal agreement was signed by Managing Director Sumith Guruge and Director of Serene Pavillions Ltd. Jit Warnakulasuriya. Citrus Leisure PLC offered these management services on the request of the British national Clive Leach OBE, the majority shareholder on the understanding that these professional services included the revamping and rebranding of the property. Accordingly, the management team of Citrus Leisure PLC comprising of the Director/CEO, Director Operations, Manager Finance, Head of IT and a few other senior officers of the company accompanied the Managing Director and Director of Serene Pavillions to the property on 11 October 2013 to conduct a staff meeting and an appraisal of the way forward. The planned meeting scheduled at 8 a.m. was to present to the Serene Pavillions staff, the operating module of Citrus Leisure PLC, including brand and customer service standards. However, when the Serene Pavillions Managing Director and Director, together with the senior Citrus Leisure officials arrived at the property, a dispute arose regarding the ownership of Serene Pavillions and the Police was called in to resolve the issue. The senior officials of Citrus Leisure PLC who were present gave a statement together with corresponding documents with regards to their presence at the property and the professional involvement of the company, on invitation of the Serene Pavillions Ltd. Board of Directors. Citrus Leisure PLC also vehemently refuted what it described as “baseless and malicious” allegations by Anura Lokuhetty and connected parties, who insinuate that Citrus Leisure PLC had a hand in his supposed assault and abduction. Citrus also said Lokuhetty, “who is the former CEO of Serene Pavillions,” has also been restrained by the Commercial High Courts of Colombo, to act in the capacity of Director of Serene Pavillions Ltd. Lokuhetty, who says he is the rightful owner of controlling stakes in Serene Pavilions, has made a wide range of allegations including intimidation and theft by parties claiming new shareholding and has vowed to fight for justice irrespective of their power and influence.