Lankan Police Arrests Former President Rajapaksa's Eldest Son

Lankan Police Arrests Former President Rajapaksa's Eldest Son

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa's eldest son was today arrested for allegedly accepting USD 500,000 from an Indian firm in connection with a USD 650 million real-estate project in the heart of Colombo.

Namal Rajapaksa, 30, was arrested after he recorded his statement with Financial Crimes Division (FCID) in connection with the deal with India's Krrish Group, police said.

The Colombo Fort Additional Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne remanded Namal into custody till July 18.

Krrish Group had in 2013 signed an agreement to start a USD 650 million real-estate venture in Colombo's central business district of Fort. Namal is accused of fraudulently obtaining 70 million rupees (USD 500,000) from the company, police said.

There have also been allegations of kickbacks paid to members of the former Rajapaksa regime for granting a prime location for the property in downtown Colombo.

The FCID is probing allegations of pay-offs of 450 million rupees made for various approvals for the developmental project which included construction of four high-rises containing a luxury hotel, apartments, malls and office space, on a 4.3-acre land of the Urban Development Authority.

Namal, the United Peoples' Freedom Alliance Hambantota district MP, was arrested on charges of using money given by the Krrish Group to sponsor a rugby match, for personal use, reports said.

The project was halted after the Urban Development Authority imposed a fine on Krrish Group for failure to meet contractual obligations.

The group has denied the charge and said they have paid all dues to the government.

The FCID, which was set up after Rajapaksa lost presidency in 2015, has been investigating the deal and Namal's arrest was culmination of that inquiry.

Namal's younger brother, Yoshitha, was previously arrested by FCID and was released on bail after being in remand over another business deal involving a sports television channel.

Other than Namal, several members of the Rakapaksa family are facing police investigations for alleged financial crimes. They include Rajapaksa, who was president for a decade until 2015, his brothers Basil and Gotabaya, and his wife Shiranthi.

The Rajapaksas claim that the investigations are a political witch-hunt against them and their sympathizers believe these allegations were brought to tarnish his name after he led the Lankan forces to victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, ending a nearly three-decade war.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who came to power on a pledge to eradicate corruption, is under pressure to act on the allegations against Rajapaksa and those who served in his administration.

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