By Easwaran Rutnam (@easwaranrutnam)
Pandora papers, considered the biggest trove of leaked offshore data in history, has mentioned former Deputy Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband, accusing them of setting up shell companies and trusts in secrecy jurisdictions.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington alleged that Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan used the companies and trusts in secrecy jurisdictions to obtain lucrative consulting contracts from foreign companies doing business with the Sri Lankan Government.
Nirupama Rajapaksa and Nadesan together controlled a shell company they used to buy luxury apartments in London and Sydney, and to make investments, according to leaked files. Nadesan set up other shell companies and trusts in secrecy jurisdictions, and he used them to obtain lucrative consulting contracts from foreign companies doing business with the Sri Lankan government and to buy artwork.
In 2018, one of the companies, Pacific Commodities, transferred 31 paintings and other South Asian art pieces to the Geneva Freeport, an ultra-secure warehouse where assets are not subject to taxes or duties.
In confidential emails to Asiaciti Trust, a Singapore-based offshore services provider, a longtime adviser of Nadesan’s put his overall wealth, as of 2011, at more than $160 million. ICIJ couldn’t independently verify the figure.
Asiaciti Trust managed some of Nadesan’s offshore companies and trusts, with assets valued at about $18 million, according to an ICIJ analysis. The firm listed him as a politically connected individual because of his wife’s political position. Asiaciti kept the family as clients even after Nadesan was charged with embezzlement in 2016.
Rajapaksa and Nadesan declined to answer ICIJ’s questions about their trusts and companies.
Some 35 current and former leaders and more than 300 public officials are featured in the files from offshore companies, dubbed the Pandora Papers, the BBC reported.
The Guardian reported that the cache includes 11.9m files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
The files were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington. It shared access to the leaked data with select media partners including the 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. (Colombo Gazette)
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) alleged that Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband used the companies and trusts in secrecy jurisdictions to obtain lucrative consulting contracts from foreign companies doing business with the Sri Lanka #PandoraPapers https://t.co/Py6RQXJDDh
— Easwaran Rutnam (@easwaranrutnam) October 3, 2021