Pandora Papers: Govt. under pressure to probe Nirupama Rajapaksa, husband

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TISL asks for domestic investigation into secret offshore accounts

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has called for a thorough government inquiry into one-time Deputy Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan named in the Pandora Papers as having offshore accounts.

TISL Executive Director Attorney-at-Law Nadishani Perera told The Island that her outfit had issued an initial statement on the matter.

Nirupama, a member of the ruling family, served the SLFP-led UPFA governments during the presidencies of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa. She represented the Hambantota District.

The Pandora Papers investigation has exposed the secret offshore accounts of about 35 world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers and heads of state. They also shed light on the secret transactions of more than 300 other public officials such as government ministers, judges, mayors and senior military officers in more than 90 countries.

More than 11.9 million financial documents were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington. The outfit has shared access to the leaked data with select media partners including the London Guardian, BBC Panorama, Le Monde and the Washington Post. More than 600 journalists have sifted through the files as part of a massive global investigation.

The Pandora papers represent the latest – and largest in terms of data volume – in a series of major leaks of financial data that have convulsed the offshore world since 2013.

The following is the text of the TISL statement: “Once again, the secret dealings of world leaders as well as public officials have been laid bare before the world through the Pandora Papers. The expose also provides clear evidence of how the offshore industry promotes corruption and emphasizes the importance of maintaining open beneficial ownership registers, including in Sri Lanka.

The Papers refer to extensive assets held offshore by former Deputy Minister of Water Supply and Drainage Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan.

Transparency International Sri Lanka calls on Sri Lankan authorities to ensure that independent investigations are carried out expeditiously into the revelations made by the Pandora Papers. This would entail allowing law enforcement authorities and the judiciary to pursue and complete the existing pending investigations pertaining to the implicated persons without interference.

TISL reiterates that it is imperative for Sri Lanka to domestically carry out a comprehensive investigation to determine if any of the wealth identified in the Pandora Papers emanates from the abuse of Sri Lanka’s public resources.”

Asked whether the TISL would lodge a complaint with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), lawyer Perera said that it was too early to provide a definite response. “But, we are looking at all possibilities,” she said.

Responding to another query, lawyer Perera acknowledged that the Parliament as the custodian of public finance should be concerned about the latest revelations. The top TISL spokesperson underscored the importance of the Parliament looking into the matter and taking appropriate steps to have a no holds barred investigation into Pandora Papers.

Our attempts to contact Dr. Harsha de Silva to obtain the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) for its reaction failed. (SF)

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