Sri Lanka CID to investigate New York Times disclosure of Chinese funding for ex-president’s re-election campaign

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Sri Lanka police has commenced an investigation into the controversial New York Times disclosure that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa had received money from China Harbor company for his re-election campaign.

The New York Times on 26 June 2018 published an articlereporting that at least $7.6 million was dispensed from China Harbor’s account at Standard Chartered Bank to affiliates of Mr. Rajapaksa’s 2015 election campaign.

Demanding an immediate investigation into the claims, the National Movement of Web Journalists of Sri Lanka lodged a complaint with the Police Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) on June 29.

Accordingly, the chairman of the National Movement of Web Journalists has been summoned to the CID tomorrow to record a statement regarding the complaint.

The former president has not yet made any response to the claims made by the New York Times report.

It has been reported that four checks from China Harbor Engineering Company have been handed over to a close relative of the former President to collect money from the relevant bank’s branch at York Street in Colombo.

According to the New York Times, this money has been given several times.

With 10 days before the January 8 5election day, around $3.7 million has been distributed in checks. One check was for $678,000 to print campaign T-shirts and other promotional material and $297,000 to buy supporters gifts, including women’s saris. Another $38,000 was paid to a popular Buddhist monk who was supporting Mr. Rajapaksa’s electoral bid, while two checks totaling $1.7 million were delivered by volunteers to Temple Trees, his official residence.

Most of the payments were from a subaccount controlled by China Harbor, named “HPDP Phase 2”, shorthand for Hambantota Port Development Project, New York Times reported.

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