Gotabaya Rajapaksa claims cash found at President’s House was to be distributed among people

Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa revealed that the money found by the protesters in the President’s House in Colombo on July 09, 2022 was his personal money and that it was due to be distributed among the people.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) disclosed this to Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage yesterday (February 08).

Accordingly, President’s Counsel (PC) Harigupta Senadheera, who appeared on behalf of the former president, requested that the funds, amounting to nearly Rs. 17.5 million, which is currently in the custody of the court, be handed over back to Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

However, due to the non-conduct of a formal investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering and Bribery Acts, the opposition lawyers, including President’s Counsel Rienzie Arsekularatne, strongly objected to the release of the money back to Gotabaya Rajapaksa and stated Rajapakse’s statement has not revealed how the money was obtained.

Thus, they requested that the court refrain from handing over the money on the grounds that the former President was not present in court, and that the manner in which he obtained these funds are yet to be disclosed.

Attorney-at-Law DIG Ruwan Gunasekara, who appeared on behalf of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), stated that the IGP had ordered the relevant investigations from the Special Crimes Unit be handed over to the CID as per the instructions of the Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles, because they delayed the investigations.

The opposing counsel argued, however, accusing Alles of being the very reason as to why these investigations were delayed, by interfering unnecessarily.

Accordingly, Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage said in open court that if the former head of state fails to reveal how he got the money, an investigation is needed.

Meanwhile, in relation to the incident where the Officer in Charge (OIC) of Fort Police had received a call ordering him to hand over the funds to Minister Tiran Alles, the phone records presented to the court yesterday revealed that Senior Deputy Inspector General (SDIG) in charge of the Western Province, Deshabandu Tennakoon, had in fact made a phone call to the Fort OIC on the day in question.

The money was discovered by protesters who stormed the Presidential Palace on July 09, 2022, during mass anti-government protests.

At least Rs. 17.5 million in cash was handed over to the Fort Police by the protesters who were at the presidential residence on that day, which was subsequently handed over to the Fort Magistrate’s Court three weeks later.