- Fellow UNP lawmakers back State Minister, says investor had no credibility
By Nuwan Senarathna
Prominent United National Party (UNP) lawmakers came together yesterday to support State Minister for International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe against allegations of corruption and pledged to take steps to clarify the matter and prove his innocence.
Denying bribery allegations over the high-speed railway project, State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe yesterday claimed that he had received death threats. Speaking to reporters during a press conference at Sirikotha, the United National Party (UNP) headquarters, he said that he had logged a formal complaint with the Mirihana Police regarding the threats and false allegations.
Senasinghe alleged the person who threatened him had been identified as Anton Deshapriya, domiciled in Italy.
Senasinghe claimed the alleged death threat was made from Italy via telephone, using inappropriate language. Senasinghe noted that Deshapriya made an initial death treat 13 months ago and he received a second call after he explained the incident at a press conference this week.
He also said the same person had threatened Deputy Minister of Public Administration and Management and Law and Order Nalin Bandara using the same telephone connection.
According to Senasinghe, Deshapriya had been listed in the CRIB (Credit Information Bureau of Sri Lanka) for failing to repay debt while claiming several members of Deshapriya’s family had also been listed in the CRIB.
Senasinghe alleged that Deshapriya had also applied to the Board of Investment (BOI) to build a meat processing factory and managed to obtain concessionary loans form State-owned banks, which he then failed to repay. He also went on to say that he would seek help from Interpol to bring Deshapriya back to Sri Lanka. “I will tender my resignation if he had invested even one tenth of the alleged investments he claimed to be making,” he added.
Speaking to reporters, Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure and Foreign Employment Minister Harin Fernando said that the Government would submit a written request to the Embassy of Italy in Sri Lanka, seeking information on Deshapriya and his investment.
Fernando alleged that Deshapriya was acting on politically motived efforts to blacken Senasinghe’s name and raise doubts on his credibility. He noted that no previous records of any investment or project carried out by the company which claimed to invest in the high-speed railway project were found.
“If someone is going to invest billions of euros, why didn’t he use the correct channels? He should come to the BOI through the Italian Embassy in Colombo,” he pointed out. Fernando also pointed out that the company did not have legitimate office in Sri Lanka and hinted that political opponents were behind the effort to discredit Senasinghe.
Pic Lasantha Kumara