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Mega 'E- Motoring' Tender Fraud at the Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation

There have been widespread reports of large scale corruption and theft at the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation and related agencies.

The corrupt practices have not only drawn the focus of the business community in the country but also that of the citizens. It must be stressed that corruption relating to tenders cannot continue in a political system which has promised good governance to its people.

Therefore, we are forced to reveal three serious corrupt tender deals carried out by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation in recent times. 

01. E-Motoring

Epic Lanka was set and chosen as the suitable company to hand over the tender for the Department of Motor Traffic’s process to computerize all its data and reports along with implementing the E-Governance system. Epic Lanka had obtained 79.03 points in the tender process while Metropolitan, another bidder only received 70.07. The granting of the tender was set to be decided on a system of two envelopes mentioning the two stages of the project approved by the World Bank and the Asian Development bank with 80 per cent for Technical Evaluation and 20 per cent for Financial / Commercial Evaluation. Accordingly, Epic Lanka had more qualifications to obtain the tender than Metropolitan. 
 
Tender Magic shown by the less qualified Metropolitan!

However, much to the amazement of everyone that was bidding, Metropolitan was able to secure the tender despite the price difference. While Epic had quoted Rs. 326 for one service transaction, Metropolitan had quoted only a paltry Rs. 187.97 

One service transaction meant one single transaction that happens within the Department of Motor Traffic, such as registration of a vehicle, transfer or change of vehicle class. While a large number of such transactions happen within a year, prices also change accordingly annually.

Therefore, for an unspecified number of such services, it is not common to present prices up to the last cent while on observation it is clear that the prices have been quoted with prior knowledge of the quote which was to be presented by the competing company. If there is to be such prior knowledge, it is clear someone would have to reveal certain sensitive information. Therefore, the question remains as to who would have done this while the finger of suspicion directly points to the tender committee led by Thushara Suraweera.
 
However, Metropolitan and its heads Ivor Mahroof and Jagath Ravindra had used their influence by giving significant bribes to the TEC committee  (Technical Evaluation Committee) heads and those involved in the tender process to obtain the decision in their favour. In the end, to everyone's shock and dismay, the tender was handed over to Metropolitan in the most corrupt and arbitrary manner.  

2. Vehicle Number Plate Tender Scam !

The other tender fraud being discussed is the one committed by the Access Group and German Company UTSCH AG. The incident has caused other bidders to seek legal advice in order to sue the wrong doers. Therefore, we will refrain from mentioning details regarding the issue and instead bring to your attention, yet another tender fraud of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation. 

3. Electronic Driver’s License

Sources say the newly proposed Electronic Driver’s License Project has also been handed over to Metropolitan and Face Technologies in a highly questionable manner. They have revealed to us that plans have been hatched in the most devious ways to do so. It must also be noted that Metropolitan and its heads, Ivor Mahroof and Jagath Ravindra, are known to provide bribes by way of money, luxury gifts, foreign trips and even prostitutes in order to obtain tenders for their company. 

Ivor mahroofThe duo are so corrupt that they are been known to make money illegally out of education projects meant to benefit school children in Sri Lanka. They have also been linked to several corrupt and fraudulent tenders at the Ministry and Department of Education. They are also said to be the criminal minds behind the deal for 200,000 tablet computers. Despite their disruptive and corrupt behaviour that has affected even the country’s school children, it is remarkable and alarming to see government employees still continuing to support them. 

Mastermind Udith Lokuarachchi! 

The Ministry has already appointed a procurement committee and a TEC committee for this tender with the TEC committee being led by an individual identified as U.J Lokuarachchi. He is said to be the Head of Information Technology  at the Airport & Aviation of Sri Lanka and had previously been employed at Metropolitan. Sources close to him, however, has identified him as the continuous mastermind behind the company’s corrupt practices. 


LokuarachchiWhile taking bribes and various benefits from Metropolitan, Lokuarachchi is tasked with preparing TEC reports to ensure the tender goes to Metropolitan by sitting in as Chairman of various TEC committees in the government tender process.  
 
Electronic Driver’s License taken over by corrupt individuals! 

Sources say U.J Lokuarachchi was instrumental in fraudulently handing over the E-driver’s license project  to Metropolitan and Face Technologies by making TEC reports to suit Metropolitan's tender. 

He is said to have used flimsy excuses to eliminate internationally acclaimed companies that had far better qualifications than Metropolitan. Furthermore, he had called for companies that had inferior technology than Metropolitan on purpose to ensure that they looked better than its competitors.

12 Companies bid for the tender!

During inquiries made, it was found that 13 companies which had the necessary qualifications had presented themselves to the Procurement and TEC committee. While one was struck off for not adhering to tender procedures, it left 12 companies as the final recommendations. 
bidding dataCompanies with qualifications left behind! 

The goons behind obtaining these tenders on behalf of Metropolitan and Face Technologies as mentioned before are the duo Ivor Mahroof and Jagath Ravindra. Known to take any risk or pay any price to obtain tenders in a corrupt way, in this instance, it is clear how they were able to get government officers to help them in their underhand work to ensure internationally recognized companies were dropped. The best evidence for this are the strange recommendations made by the officials making Metropolitan and Face Technologies the company chosen for the E-driving licence project. 

Follow the link for evidence.

The Cover up!

However, it has also been revealed that Mahroof and Uditha who went to every extent to obtain the tender, also tried to cover up their corrupt practices during the deal by getting the committee to handover the tender to Metropolitan with Face Technologies but also deflecting any suspicions by allowing the three weakest companies to apply by mentioning that in the tender rules. But this fraud is blatantly visible despite their efforts. 

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Incredible TEC committee!  

But the most laughable thing is the composition of the TEC committee. Other than its Chairman U. J Lokuarachchi, the only other member with a background in Information Technology (IT) is a university lecturer in the subject. Other than him, the qualifications and suitability of other committee members are highly questionable. It is also suspicious that the Commissioner for IT at the Department of Motor Traffic has not been included in this committee. Neither has a member from the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) attached to the Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure been included. 

With the Driving licence being an important proof of identification as much as the NIC, it is confusing as to why those who not only have expertise in IT but also high security printing standards and international experience were not included. Bidding prices should have also been considered in this regard. It must be questioned whether this TEC committee had the necessary expertise to ascertain these details and information. 

TEC
While Metropolitan with Face Technologies has been producing the driving licence issued by the DMT, however, it has to be noted that this tender is for an Electronic Driver’s License and companies who not only have the facilities but also international experience had bid for this tender for competitive rates that cannot be matched by Metropolitan with Face Technologies. 

Therefore, it is important to cancel this tender and call for an investigation in this regard immediately. At the same time, it must be questioned as to why the Minister of Transport Nimal Siripala De Silva, Commissioner General of Motor Traffic A.H.K.Jagath Chandrasiri, Secretary to the Ministry of Transport as well as other senior officials have kept mum with regard to these corrupt practices.

If the public is aware of such tender frauds,  how the officials could deny any knowledge is a question that must be raised within the general public. For these officials, the only way to show their integrity is to stop the tender and ensure that a proper investigation is carried out. Failure to do so would only result in what the general public is already inclined to believe; that all of you are active stakeholders of a perpetuating vicious cycle of corruption.

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Prawn as dangerous as AIDS a lie cooked up by businessmen tricks media!

It is now being reported that the news claiming Sri Lanka has imported a type of disease-ridden prawn called Vannamei a complete lie cooked up by businessmen.

A news that had appeared on the Sinhalese daily, Mawbima claimed one disease human can contract from the species can be dangerous as HIV AIDS.

However, on investigation, it has been revealed that the news has been spread by a group of businessman in the fisheries trade by the name of Sri Lanka Aquaculture Development Alliance who are against the Vannamei breeding project.

While business ploys aimed at revenue alone are common however it should be noted that even businesses should be more cautious when spreading news which may have serious negatively affect the economy and public. However social media page admins too do not heed this and shoot themselves in the foot such as in this incident

Ploy by Businessman

Firstly the objection to importing prawns as raised by business association engaged in the businessman. An individual claiming to be its President pretending to have medical expertise claimed that the prawns were ridden with diseases while going on to claim that laws have been thwarted to import the stock.

He has also said that the prawns are not being bred in Sri Lanka currently due to six unidentified diseases associated with them. According to him, the Prawn industry in the country is facing a serious issue which they then went on to file a complaint with the Police.

Despite having to respect him as a businessman however he along with media organisations for spreading misinformation among the public.

Vannamei speciality!

Currently, Monodon species of prawns are used in Sri Lanka while the importation of Vannamei has been decided due to more harvest and low cost.

Therefore India too has turned to farming Vannamei prawns. These prawns are also bred in Thailand, Vietnam and amounts around 70 percent of the prawns grown there. These are possibly the positive reasons which upset the business associations.

Everything was done legally!

While this is only a pilot project it was to be put in place under the guidance of the Ministry of FIsheries but was handed over to a private company due to difficulties in raising capital for the project. The company too are not taking part in the project to create a monopoly in the business but to gain more harvest through less cost by increasing the number of prawns bred.

Their aim is to use the harvest to increase the export revenue USD 2 Million. However, the association of businessman are said to have created the fear mongering to hamper the efforts.

While the import has been done legally while it has been certified by the Hawai Biological Research Institute.

Meanwhile the prawns after being imported, its samples have been sent to Peradeniya, as well as the laboratory of the Aquaculture Development Authority of Sri Lanka in Baththuluwa. The project is set to take place in an area not connected to other aquatic systems.

In case if it is revealed that the stock is ridden with diseases then the Aquaculture Development Authority and the Private company have agreed to destroy the batch.

What must be noted is that those spreading these rumours themselves in 2015 requested approval to import this type of prawns only going on to prove their real intention behind spreading misinformation regarding the project.

 

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A controversial revelation by Avant-Garde's Nissanka! 

President of the Avant-Garde Maritime Services Nissanka Senadhipathi claims a project which would have brought USD 800 Million to the country while generating a large amount of jobs was lost simply due to the opportunistic decisions taken by the Ministry of Defence.

According to him, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that looked into the Avant-Garde issue found the organization to be beneficial to the national economy as well as being able to generate a large number of employment opportunities.

Senadhipathi made these claims in an interview held with the Voice Tube website. Please find the link to the video below. 

According to him, Avant-Garde is one of the three leading companies that engages in Martime Security Services in world and is only second to the renowned American privtate military company, Blackwater.  Senadhipathi pointed out that it is unfortunate that the government has resorted to taking revenge on a company that could compete with the leading private security firm in the world and help to increase the inlow of foreign exchange to the country. Furthermore, he underscored that it was the misfortune of all the employees that were under contract, with the vast majority having served in the defence sector and in the Sri Lankan armed forces previously.

Avant-Garde released after Presidential Investigation!

Mentioning the report of the Presidential ICommission of Inquiry into Avant-Garde, he said that despite the company being proven innocent, political revenge and haughtiness have caused the country to lose out. 

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He said the country could have earned around USD 800 and the Ministry of Defence had to merely give a 'No Objection' letter with regard to the project and the government need not have spent a single dime on it. 

Ministry of Defence all quiet! 

However, he said that after presenting a letter with the project report and explaining the situation, he is yet to hear from the Ministry. “We tried to get in touch with several of those who are responsible but it was to no avail” he added. 

Nissanka gets calls from two Ministers! 

Meanwhile, Senadhipathi said that even though he hadn't received a response from the MoD,  two top ministers from the government had called him to find out more information regarding the project after seeing various news that were circulating widely on social media. 

Accoridng to him, both ministers had claimed that the project would help to bring economic stability to the country if implemented. Nissanka said that he explained to the ministers that all he needed was support from the Ministry of Defence in the form of a 'No Objection' letter and at least part of the project could still be salvaged if the necessary help from the relevant government agency could be expedited. 

Opportunity to bring USD 1 Billion lost!

He also claimed that in 2015, he brought a project worth 1 Billion USD from the Nigerian government. Even though the minister allowed him to sign the agreement, he did not support Avant-Garde during the execution phase of the project thereby causing the country to lose a staggering amount of foreign exchange.

Government continues to hold our warships! 

When questioned if the company has any connection to the government now, Nissanka revealed that even today, a floating armoury of the company in the Red Sea is holding over 800 weapons of the Sri Lankan government. 

I sell Sri Lanka’s Art of War!

Nissanka in his interview also warns that Sri Lanka would become an economic failure such as Greece if it hopes to uplift the economy through traditional exports such as tea and rubber.  As a country that defeated terrorism, it should create a market and sell the ‘Art of War’, he opines.

According to him, Avant-Garde Maritime Services is highly equipped to bring in major profits to the country. However, the company is being prevented as they did not give any financial aid for the election campaigns. He also added that the government has prevented the truth regarding Avant-Gardethe company and its innocence from being revealed to the people. 

He also says that false allegations have been levelled against him in an attempt to jail him but no one is investigating as to how the Navy had managed to accrue losses on the same deals that were very much profitable when Avat-Garde was operating. 

Sailor's Theft!

He also accused the likes of current CDS, Ravi Wijegunawardena, of taking commissions and bribes from foreign parties at the time and running the business in to the ground. 

“It is shameful to call him an Admiral” he said in the interview.

Nissanka also challenged the government to show whether they are able to bring even a small percentage of the dollars that were brought in during his time compared with the amount that was brought in after it was taken over by the Navy.  

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BMW that took a plunge in Thalawathugoda: Owner a Minister’s Brother-in-law?

The owner of the luxury BMW i8 which took a plunge in the Kimbula Ela opposite the Thalawathugoda Keells around 6.15 am yesterday is said to be owned by a Brother-in-law of Minister Kabir Hashim who also works as a member of the Minister’s personal staff according to social media posts going viral at the moment.

According to reports he had purchased the luxury car from BMW- Bavarian Motors Pvt Ltd located on Isipathana Mawatha, Colombo owned by an individual identified as Rishard Hameed.

Hameed is a known close business associate of the sons of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa while Former Minister Johnston Fernando and Yoshitha Rajapaksa are said to have invested in Hameed’s business.

The CID had also previously taken a statement from Hameed regarding Rugby player Wasim Tajudeen's assassination.

Hameed’s wife also became the talk of the town recently for importing a super luxury Lamborghini car to the country

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Daham Sirisena’s connection?

However certain social media outlets had reported that the car was driven by son of President Maithripala Sirisena, Daham dwhen the accident occurred.

However, CCTV footage of the incident does not appear to show Daham Sirisena. While the car had also struck two other vehicles, an advisor to a top businessman in the country has agreed to pay damages to those two vehicles.

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However, CCTV footage of the incident does not appear to show Daham Sirisena. While the car had also struck two other vehicles, an advisor to a top businessman in the country has agreed to pay damages to those two vehicles.

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‘Lost Boys’ case flies into major political crosswinds

At 3.30 am on September 10, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, the country’s highest ranking military official, boarded a Qatar Airways flight bound for Singapore. The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was travelling overseas to attend the 208th National Day celebrations in Mexico, according to his Office. The trouble was, September 10 was also the day Admiral Wijegunaratne was due to report to the CID to record an official statement regarding the allegation that the top military officer had harboured a suspect – a Navy man who was wanted in connection with the abduction and suspected murder of 11 Tamil youth, including five students.

Later that day, a letter was dispatched to the Fourth Floor – the famous CID headquarters. It was delivered by an official from the CDS’ office. The letter officially notified the CID that the Admiral had been called away on an official visit overseas, and would not be able to appear at the CID offices as scheduled last Monday (10). Instead, the letter requested CID officials to provide a fresh date after September 19, when he was scheduled to return to the island.
 
Late last week, the impending questioning and arrest of Admiral Wijeguneratne had taken on new political dimensions.
 
President Maithripala Sirisena summoned an emergency Cabinet meeting at high noon on Thursday, reportedly, to discuss the issue. Ministers have been tight-lipped about the extraordinary Cabinet meeting, but reports surfaced about frank exchanges regarding the CID move to arrest the nation’s highest serving military official on charges of harbouring a fugitive. The suspect was subsequently arrested by the CID last month. A decision on the issue was deferred until the Prime Minister returned from an official visit to Vietnam on September 14.
 
On Friday, during a breakfast meeting with editors, President Sirisena revealed he had pitched into the CID and Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya, over the continued arrest of military officials, including high ranking officers in high profile murder and abduction cases, and their failure to file cases against any of them since 2015. The President said, it was his belief that the CID should not arrest and detain military officials unless they could file indictments because, this was leading to accusations against the Government that it was on a witch-hunt targeting the military. The President said, he had called for progress reports from the IGP on all the controversial cases involving attacks on journalists and the abduction of 11 Tamil youth in 2008. In none of those cases had the CID been able to file cases against any of the officials arrested since 2015, he added. If there were charges against these officers they should be prosecuted, rather than being arrested and harassed for months, only to be released on bail later, the President charged during the briefing. It is not clear why the CID has been unable to prosecute any of these cases so far, but prosecutors and investigators point to procedural delays, capacity issues within both the CID and the AG’s Department, and the difficulty of obtaining information and documents from the armed forces about matters pertaining to the high profile investigations.

On Friday night, the Government Information Department issued a media release, denying it was ‘hunting war heroes,’ as some claim, underscoring the fact that the CID investigation into the abduction of 11 youths commenced in 2009, when the Rajapaksa Government was in power. The Government release said, while reports claiming that the CDS was to be arrested were circulating, the Admiral had only been summoned for a statement to be recorded by the CID regarding the allegation that he had helped the Navy suspect evade court or prevented his arrest by giving him protection. “However, most people and media had reported this situation to indicate that the arrest of the CDS was imminent. The CID had no such intention,” the Government release claimed.

The political firestorm over the alleged involvement of Admiral Wijeguneratne has been some time coming.

Ever since reports surfaced about how the CDS clashed openly with CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekera, at a meeting that included several Ministers and the Defence Secretary, the Navy abduction case has been in the spotlight, and the CID and the CDS have been on a collision course. At the fateful meeting, Wijeguneratne challenged SSP Abeysekera to prove the charge that he had helped Hettiarachchi alias Navy Sampath to flee the country. Abeysekera appeared to have accepted the challenge, reporting details to court citing a navy official’s evidence and an alleged transfer of funds to Hettiarachchi’s account from a Navy account maintained at a state Bank. The court has ordered the bank concerned to release information about the said transaction to the CID.

In its B Report (B2527/80) filed at the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court, the CID observed that the current Chief of Defence Staff, who was Navy Commander at the time, had harboured the suspect – Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi alias Navy Sampath – who was wanted in connection with the abduction for ransom, illegal detention and suspected murder of the 11 youth. The former Navy Commander had failed to produce Hettiarachchi to the CID, despite being officially informed, thereby intervening to prevent the legal arrest of a suspect. The former Navy Commander and current Chief of Defence Staff had committed crimes punishable under Sections 209, 174 and 183 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the CID B Report to court further added. The offences pertain to the omission to give notice or information to a public officer by a person legally bound to give notice or information (174), obstructing a public officer in the discharging of his public functions (183) and harbouring an offender (209).

Based on the CID progress reports on the investigation into the Admiral’s conduct to allegedly shield Navy Sampath, Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne on August 29, ordered the CID to initiate steps necessary to arrest the Chief of Defence Staff if the investigating officials had sufficient evidence to frame charges against him.

A senior investigating officer at the CID admitted that the Department had not seen Admiral Wijeguneratne’s departure overseas coming. In fact, CID officials visited Admiral Wijeguneratne at the CDS office at the BMICH on Friday, September 7, to request him to report to the CID HQ on Monday (10) to record a statement regarding the allegations. News that the CDS has left the country to attend an official function in Mexico, only reached the CID officers at 2 pm last Monday.

The CID investigation against the senior military official has been filed separately under the B Report number B 9527/2018. Lawyers for families of the missing boys expressed fear in court last Wednesday that Admiral Wijeguneratne could continue to evade questioning, which could hamper investigations into the Navy abductions case. Attorney-at-Law for the families, Achala Seneviratne, requested Magistrate Jayaratne to issue a travel ban on the Admiral. The Magistrate said, the request could be made when the case against Wijeguneratne is called under the separate B Report. However, that B Report has no calling date, which means there was still no inquiry worth reporting to Court, even though the Department claims it has enough evidence against the senior military official.

According to the CID, Wijegunaratne allegedly protected the main suspect Hettiarachchi known by the alias ‘Navy Sampath’ as the search for him by the CID intensified. Sources within the CID said it had sent two messages to the administrative branch of the Naval Headquarters, for the attention of then Navy Commander Ravindra Wijegunaratne on March 1 and March 28, 2017, requesting the Navy to produce Hettiarachchi at the CID Headquarters on March 2 and 31 respectively. These requests went unheeded, but evidence and witness statements have revealed that Hettiarachchi was being harboured at Naval Headquarters in Colombo during this time.

Evidence to support this claim comes from the statement made by the wife of Hettiarachchi, herself. She had told investigators that she visited Hettiarachchi thrice while he was housed at the HQ between March 3 and March 31, 2017, despite the Navy insisting at the time that they had no knowledge of his whereabouts. Her statement is also backed by Lt. Commander Geethal Laksiri who cooperated with the CID. In his statement to the CID, Laksiri claimed Hettiarachchi was housed in the adjacent room to his, in the Officer’s Mess when the CID was looking for him. Once encountering both Wijegunaratne and Hettiarachchi in the elevator, Laksiri claimed he witnessed a damning conversation between the two. According to the CID B Report, Laksiri claims that when he saw Hettiarachchi leaving the Mess one day, the then Navy Commander Wijegunaratne had asked him where he was headed. Hettiarachchi had replied that he was going to the Light House to meet his wife, to which the Commander had retorted: “If you wander about and get caught by the police, there is nothing I can do about it,” - according to Lt. Commander Laksiri’s statement reported in the CID’s B Report seen by the Sunday Observer.

According to Laksiri’s statement to the CID, Hettiarachchi had also shown him a bagfull of money just before disappearing from the Naval Command. Hettiarachchi had claimed that Commander Wijegunaratne had provided the money for his expenses, Lt Commander Laksiri told the CID. The CID during a previous court sitting reported that the Sri Lanka Navy had transferred half a million rupees to Hettiarachchi from a special account maintained at the Bank of Ceylon.

The CID told court that it believed the money may have been utilised to obtain false ID documents found in Hettiarachchi’s possession when he was arrested in August 2018. OIC of the Gang Robberies Unit of the CID, Nishantha Silva told Court at the last hearing on Wednesday (12) that the Department was investigating the money trail further.

An initial tip off by the then Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda in 2009 led to the explosive revelations about a chilling abduction for ransom racket, allegedly run by officers serving in the Sri Lanka Navy. Investigations into the racket began in 2009, but picked up steam only after the fall of the Rajapaksa regime in 2015. The case has implicated several senior naval officials, including former Navy Spokesman D.K.P. Dassanayake. Rajiv Naganathan, the A/L student from Kotahena who had just got admission to a university overseas and four friends who had gone out with him to celebrate ahead of his departure to the UK went missing from Dehiwala in September 2008.The other boys were abducted from other suburbs in Colombo, residents of Mannar and Trincomalee who were working in the capital or visiting the city. The other six young men were abducted between August and October 2008. The abducted boys were initially held in detention at the Naval Prison at Chaithya Road, and subsequently transferred to the ‘Gunside Base’ at the Navy’s Easter Command HQ in Trincomalee, CID investigations have revealed. CID officials have visited holding cells in the ‘Gunside Base’, where they have studied etchings on the walls, to determine if the handwriting matched any of the boys who went missing in 2008.

Tomorrow, September 17, marks a decade since families of the 11 boys began their long struggle for answers about the fate of their sons. Sarojini Naganathan, the mother of starry-eyed university freshman Rajiv, had thought the investigation was getting traction in recent months. But with the case into her son’s abduction flying into massive political crosswinds this week, her quest for justice just got a little harder. 
 
Source : Sunday Observer

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Kiriella’s stooge gets into trouble: Chairman of Maga Neguma caught working as UNP election campaign head

Reports claim that the Chairman of Maga Neguma, affiliated to the Ministry of Higher Education and Highways, Rajiv Seneviratne has acted as a political activist while engaged in public service during the last provincial council election.

This is because he is said to have served as the UNP election campaign office head while working as the Chairman of the Maga Neguma.

Regulations grossly violated

Working as the Chairman of the Maga Neguma while also acting as the head of the UNP election campaign office, abuse of state property during LG polls and violation of the establishment's code and financial regulations are serious offences and election monitors CaFFE has now lodged a complaint with the Election commission in this regard.

According to the complaint lodged by CaFFE Seneviratne had even exchanged communiques with the Election commission, election monitors and other organizations while functioning in both roles.

Evidence presented by CaFFE

CaFFE has made note of this in their complaint while bringing in to focus how Seneviratne had even signed official documents relating to the election which has now been presented as evidence.

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The first thing CaFFE alleges is that it is Rajiv Seneviratne who is the Chairman of the Maga Neguma which is affiliated to the Ministry of Higher Education and Highways and has been named in its official website as the Chairman. http://maganeguma.lk/about-us/.

The other thing brought in to the focus is that during the local government election, Rajiv Seneviratne had received salaries and allowances from the Consolidated fund of government while serving as the head of the election monitoring office to promote the UNP without due approval.

According to CaFFE Seneviratne has sent letters as the UNP election campaign office head to the Election commission, election monitors, Police and other department while working as a government employee to promote a election party violates Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) states that not only orders or measures issued by the Election Commission but also the provisions of the Establishments Code and the financial regulations of the government have been violated.

Evidence of misuse of public property

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Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) has complained to the Election Commission that dozens of letters have been sent to the Election Commission during the last election is evidence that public assets, state employees and human resources are a living evidence misuse of state property to promote a party.

CaFFe also mentioned that if Rajiv Seneviratne has committed such acts can be verified through a proper investigation on whether the taxpayers funds were used for the election campaigns, vehicles, vehicles and other materials.

The highest number of complaints during the Rajapaksa regime

While pointing out that it was Seneviratne had made the most complaints of state property being misused during the Rajapaksa regime, CaFFE expressed their shock as to how him committing the same acts while dealing with the election commission was kept a secret. As a result, CaFFE has requested an inquiry be carried out in this regard.

A personal grudge: UNP

When asked by isis.lk, a spokesman for the UNP said the Executive director of CaFFE, Keerthi Tennakoon is acting on a personal grudge against the party as he was reported by them to the commission for acting in a partial manner during the recent elections.

The spokesman also said he is unaware if Seneviratne was acting as the Chairman of Maga Neguma during the LG polls but if he had resigned then he had not committed any wrong. He also said this has to be looked at prior to accusing him of any wrong.

Prove these accusations: UNP

When pointed out that he has been mentioned as the Chairman of Maga Neguma in the official website the spokesman said there are issues in updating government websites adding that there should be evidence to prove that he acted in both roles during the recent polls.

He said if evidence is presented the party will support any action against him and Minister in charge of the Ministry at the time, Lakshman Kiriella should apologise to the country.

Legal background

The constitution explains state employees violating election laws as mentioned below :

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003The gazette notification issued by the Election Commission in that regard

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Country to face a loss of Rs. 50 Billion: Underhand dealings of Power and Energy Secretary B.M.S Batagoda revealed! 

Ministry of Power and Energy, B.M.S Batagoda is said to have sent a secret letter to the Procurement Appeal Board requesting that the tender to build the propose Kerawalapitiya LNG power plant be granted to a Chinese company disregarding the local company who had submitted the lowest bid to obtain the contract.  

According to reports according to the recommendation of Batagoda, if the contract is granted to the Chinese company, the country is set to lose Rs. 50 Billion with the funds being diverted to China instead. 

The tender which had caused much controversy in the country recently had been posed to be granted to a local company after the necessary technical and financial assessments were completed. 

However ignoring the recommendations of the TEC committee and the Sri Lanka cabinet approved procurement committee (SCAPC) which he, himself is a part of Batagoda has vehemently opposed this move from the inception which was revealed by the Sathhanda newspaper as well.

At first, Batagoda had attempted to grant the contract to the Samsung company of South Korea however due to the serious errors in the tender bid of the company it was ruled out. Therefore he has been campaigning vigorously to handover the tender to GCL China instead.
An individual who was taken to task before the supreme court for purchasing coal out of the proper procedure is considered to be one of the most ineffective and questionable state sector officers and as this incident proves is also possibly a corrupt government official. 

The local company which had quoted Rs. 14.97 per unit and was the lowest bid is also experienced in constructing Integrated Circuit Power Plants. However, the Chinese company which has no previous experience in such a project is said to have quoted Rs. 15.98 for per unit. 
Once the plant which has a capacity of 350 MW is constructed, annually CEB is estimated to purchase around 2500 units from the plant. Therefore if the contract is given to the Chinese company the expected loss is massive.

However, sources say the letter consisting of serious errors sent by Batagoda had been drafted in favour of GCL China. But according to trustworthy sources, the most significant factor is the Secretary had sent in the letter presenting it as the official stance of the Ministry even though the Minister and the State Minister had no knowledge of the matter. 

While working towards granting the contract to the Chinese firm and thereby making an undue profit Batagoda has also continuously delayed the tender process thereby pushing the country into an energy crisis forcing the CEB to make emergency power purchases to earn large commissions through the process.  

Since being appointed as the Ministry Secretary, Batagoda has failed to even add one Megawatt of power to the National grid. 

While the current government has taken steps to eradicate corruption from the state sector by introducing the Public service commission however corrupt individuals such as Batagoda becoming stronger and taking serious government decisions based on personal benefit is an unfortunate situation for the country.

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SLFP divided over proposal for a unitary UNP govt; Here are the two sides

The SLFP led coalition in the unity government have been split into two camps following the proposal by the UNP to form a unitary government led by the latter.

Although the UNP as a party had decided to form a unitary government by last evening (13), discussions between the President and the diplomatic community has led to the appointment of a special committee to decide the future course of action of the government after considering the prevailing political situation.

It was also decided that the country should remain stable until the committee arrives at a decision.

 UNP will accept Members coming from the SLFP

However, at the Cabinet meeting that was held today, the current political climate had reinforced the need to form a unitary UNP government and as such, the UNP had conveyed its inclination to accept Ministers from the SLFP led alliance who were willing to join them.

According to reliable sources, after the Cabinet meeting today (14), a special meeting was held between the Ministers of the SLFP led Freedom at the Presidential Secretariat.

Let’s go to reaffirm the January 8 mandate - SLFP strongmen

At that meeting, a group had proposed that they work to reaffirm the mandate that was given to the government on January 8, which also included the UNP.

This group included Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Mahinda Amaraweera, Duminda Dissanayake, Sarath Amunugama, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Vijith Vijithamuni Soysa and Faizer Mustapha.

 Thilanga propositions flower bud when Susil says NO

The group had pointed out that it is imperative for them to support the UNP government on the basis of the mandate that was given by 6.2 million Sri Lankans and that it would also provide them with an opportunity to protect the President politically.

They vehemently opposed the notion of joining the Rajapaksa camp as both the SLFP and the UPFA will be at serious peril if such a situation were to occur.

However, a group including Minister Susil Premajayantha had protested against this suggestion stating that that they could not support the UNP on any ground. They also pointed out that it is against party principles and that it’s more important to remain in Parliament.

In this backdrop, Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala has stated that instead of working under a unitary UNP government or the current unity government, they could set up their own government by forming an alliance with the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). A proposal to this effect was forwarded by the SLPP and as such, there is a real possibility of displaying the majority of 113 parliamentarians without any problems.

President's position

However, a majority of the SLFP led alliance had not agreed to the proposal, and posited that it was more dignified to work independently in Parliament than to go back to the Mahinda faction. They pointed out that it is important for the party to obtain the role of the Leader of the Opposition, thereby acting as the real opposition in Parliament.

The President who listened intently to both sides had informed the group that anyone was free to join the UNP and the rest were welcome to act independently in Parliament.

Accordingly, around 10 MPs of the SLFP have agreed to join a UNP government while the remaining 32 MPs are expected to act independently and vie for the Leader of the Opposition.

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History of the Rs. 2 billion bribe!

The anti-corruption stance of many in the government is now being questioned after the recent arrest of President’s Chief of staff and the State Timber Corporation chief in connection to accepting a bribe of Rs. 2 Billion.

The reason for the government to earn flak for it was that they failed to heed the warning given by the Sathhanda newspaper on March 19, 2017.

An article run under the headline “The first investor of the 100-day government gets fed up and is ready to leave the country” is important as it proves that corruption is not only relating to a person or people but is also fueled by carelessness and oversights.

සන 2Here is the Sathhanda revelation 
Courtesy - Sathhanda Newspaper March 19, 2017

‘The first inventor of the 100-day government gets fed up and is ready to leave the country’

MG Sugar Lanka is said to be unable to commence its operations in Sri Lanka as the officials of the Ministry of Land has failed to grant them the necessary land provisions for its business for over one year. MG Sugar Lanka is the first investor that had arrived in the country during the 100 day governments time.

As reported to us MG Sugar Lanka had arrived in the country during 2015 according to an agreement with the Board of Investments (BOI) to restructure the Kantale Sugar factory and the worth of the direct investment by them is said to be Rs. 15, 000 Million.

According to that agreement the company was to get 500 Acres of land for 30 years while they had agreed to renovate the now broken down Kantale Sugar factory. The company has fulfilled all the stipulated regulations for investors by August 2016 to commence its investment development process. At the time all government agencies other than the Ministry of Land had provided for the legal provisions needed for the investor to commence its operations. Despite the company’s repeated attempts to inquire as to why land was not being provided by the Ministry of Land, they had not received any response.

Therefore the foreign director board of MG Sugar Lanka had even informed of their difficulties to the Prime Minister and several other top government officials while expressing their severe disappointment at the unfair treatment being meted out to them despite their efforts to accept the open invitation by the new government to foreign investors.

When inquired sources from the Prime Ministers office confirmed this adding that during a meeting held on March 15, all parties were called for a meeting and was advised to resolve this issue expeditiously.

Sathhanda also reached out to the Secretary to the Ministry, Dr. I.H.K Mahanama who said the delay was due to several legal issues to release the lands. He also said after the meeting with the PM, the ministry has informed the Attorney General regarding these and the issue is expected to be resolved in a matter of days.

But the question remains as to why these legal issues could not be resolved for two years and what these so called legal issues are. When asked the Secretary was unable to pinpoint these issues exactly and only goes on to show that even through an official agreement the necessary provisions for investors cannot be given and issues cannot be resolved unless the President or the Prime Minister getting involved in it leaving investors without an alternative solution than reach out to them as it drags on for many years

With the country's economy in dire straits and direct investments as expected by the government not coming in, we wanted to give special focus to this issue. 

MG Sugar Lanka arrives at an agreement with BOI Chairman Upul Jayasuriya to restructure the Kantale Sugar factory on July 27, 2015. While the agreement was signed by Jayasuriya and Mendel Glik on behalf of MG Sugar Lanka at the time the Minister of Lands was the late Minister M.K.D.S Gunawardena and its Secretary was Dr. I.H.K Mahanama. 

According to this agreement even if MG Sugar fully modernizes the factory the government was to hold 51% of its ownership while the company was to have 49%. It was also expected to produce 80,000 Metric tonnes of Sugar in order to reduce 20% of the cost spent on importing sugar to the country. The investment of MG Sugar Lanka in this regard was a estimated Rs. 15,000 million which was a direct investment.  

The project was also expected to generate 2500 direct employment opportunities while 15000 indirect employment opportunities was also expected to be generated. The company was also set to bring the latest technology in sugar production to the country. 

Therefore it is questionable as to how Secretary Dr. Mahanama was not aware of possible issues in this economically important project and how he failed to inform the investors and other relevant parties in this regard. And it must be stressed that if this is the situation then no matter what the government does to attract direct investments they will not bear fruit due to these issues.

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CID's comedic act and Sirasa's media ethics (Video)

As the country was celebrating its 70th Independence, the live telecast of the arrest of the owner of Perpetual Treasuries Arjun Aloysius and the company’s CEO Kasun Palisena by Sirasa once again has brought in to question the television channels media ethics while also damaging the good name of the Criminal Investigations Department.

As the arrests were being made after a ‘b’ report was presented to the Fort magistrate on Friday by the OIC of the Financial Fraud Division within the CID it has been pointed out that the CID officers had forgotten on important legal principle.

That is, the suspects, Lakshman Arjuna Mahendran, Arjun Joseph Aloysius and Kasun Oshadhi Palisena are in fact merely suspects.

The documents presented by the CID to courts itself says “We plead before the courts that these men are to be considered as suspects”.

But watching the situation that unfolded the question arises if were two out of the three arrested today arrested after being considered as suspects? Or as convicts?

Not notified to hand themselves over

Does the CID not know of the simple legal principle that after being presented to the Fort magistrate the duo is being remanded as mere suspects and not convicts? ?

Despite being granted permission to make the arrests however the CID had at no time informed the suspects to hand themselves over. Instead, while they go on to surround the residences of the suspects a comedy act is acted out before a Sirasa media crew armed with cameras.

While the former governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran is known to be abroad during the presentation of the ‘b’ report by the CID, Alysious and Palisena were in open society within the country at the time.

It is true that on the information presented to the courts the duo is suspected of committing an offence or offences against public property which allows the CID to arrest them sans a warrant due to the crime falling under cognizable offences.

Proper respect and dignity?

But even such an arrest should be done while ensuring every suspect's respect and dignity.

Despite various media reports in the last few weeks predicting their impending arrests prior to February 7 and of the ‘b’ report submitted on Friday these two suspects had not attempted to flee the country at any time. Therefore it is clear would have in fact handed themselves over if they were notified to do so.

But the CID had failed to do so. That is why we are now forced to claim that the script of this comedic act is in fact very weak.

The CID, in fact, has no right to arrest even the most dastardly criminal in the manner of shooting a teledrama as was done during these arrests.

How did Sirasa find out?

The incident also brings into question as to how Sirasa was prior notified of an arrest which was unknown to even Arjun Aloysius.

While some may put it down to their talent however their media ethics has left much to be desired.

Do they have a personal grudge against the arrested men? This charade is in fact yet another display of irresponsible behaviour of this leading TV channel that operates with a broadcasting license in a country full of taxpayers.

One of the fundamental principles of criminal law is that “A suspect is not considered to be a criminal until the end of the court procedure and a verdict is given”

A legal principle known to even school children is called the ‘presumption of innocence’ where a person is considered as being innocent until proven guilty.

This is considered as one of the roots of the rule of law, which has been seen throughout the world for many centuries ‘The rule of law’ which President Maithripala Sirisena continues to evoke on election stages is, in fact, the base of ‘good governance’.

A push for the President’s Independence speech?

Speaking close to the time of these arrests at the 70th Independence Day celebrations President Sirisena said: "Today's patriotism means dealing acting with financial discipline".

Therefore it is questionable if the CID conducted this charade during the arrests connected to what is considered as one of the largest financial frauds in the country to please the President or another powerful politician.

In the past incidents of ‘Kondaya’ and the rapist of Giribawa we have seen the ugly scenes how civilians are dragged away as suspects by the Police. These were also accompanied with cheap media circuses in a similar manner.

But the investigations in to this serious financial fraud was conducted by one of highest authorities of the Police the CID and not the village Police.

While we have commended the behaviours of these officers in instances such as the Vidya sexual assault case however this incident has tarnished the name of the department which is unfortunate.

In the past incidents of ‘Kondaya’ and the rapist of Giribawa we have seen the ugly scenes how civilians are dragged away as suspects by the Police. These were also accompanied with cheap media circuses in a similar manner.

But the investigations in to this serious financial fraud was conducted by one of highest authorities of the Police the CID and not the village Police.

While we have commended the behaviours of these officers in instances such as the Vidya sexual assault case however this incident has tarnished the name of the department which is unfortunate.

Fundamental Rights of the suspects violated :

 They have clearly violated the fundamental rights of these suspects and provided evidence of this live to the country as well due to the live telecast by a television channel.

However the end result is that the CID will be put in a difficult situation. If the CID’s real intent is to ensure justice then they should first stop attemtping to please politicians while not supporting media circuses as seen today.

Source : (lankanewsweb.net)

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Commissioner General of Buddhist Affairs: About what belongs to Kataragama God - Do you have answers to these?

Commissioner General of Buddhist Affairs, Nimal Kotawalagedara decided to immediately suspend Don Piyatissa Kumarage as the Basnayake Nilame of the Ruhunu Kataragama Devalaya on April 10.

The order for the suspension had come from Minister of Buddhist Affairs, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera which was revealed by the Minister himself to the media on April 9.

It must be recalled that the D.P Kumarage was also previously suspended by Kotawalagedara in August 2017. This was based on an allegation that Kumarage had forcefully kept a key of the devalaya.

Two more years to be in the post

However, it now appears that Kumarage is now at the risk of losing his position once more despite having two more years to be in the post of Basnayake Nilame.

According to the Minister, the recent suspension comes after serious financial allegation have been levelled against Kumarage while they have also been revealed in an investigation headed by a retired supreme court judge.

The Minister also said Kumarage was suspended as the Ministry intends to carry out an impartial audit of the financial management of the devalaya. The Minister said it will be conducted by the Auditor General's Department.

Minister also said that according to the audit report further action regarding the Basnayake Nilame.

If financial allegations have been made investigations and legal action should be taken while the due process under human law should be followed even in a situation to do with a belonging of a deity. The same rule would apply to the Buddha.

Likewise any establishment too should follow those rules and not work outside the process. If any activity is being conducted not according to book the assumption is that a wrong is being committed.

Candidate who lost election appointed as acting Basnayake Nilame

According to sources from the Minister Dilruwan Rajapakse has been appointed as the acting Basnayake Nilame after the suspension of Kumarage. They say Rajapakshe is a candidate who had contested to be appointed as the Basnayake Nilame previously but had lost out on the chance. Sources go on to claim that therefore this appointment is suspicious and is in fact a plan by Rajapakshe to gain the position by creating issues within the Devalaya. Another reason for the suspicion according to sources is that during in the previous instance an additional commissioner of the Ministry was appointed to look in to the matters of the Devalaya temporarily this time around how a former candidate for the post have been appointed.

Is a 15.1 investigation not needed?

It also must be noted that any issue to do with a Basnayake Nilame must be done according to the Section 15.1 of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance No. 19 of 1931. However action of the Ministry does not appear to conform with the law. If followed the law allows the Nilame to be sacked, take legal action against him and even be fined.

But however the real issue appears to be with several Kapu Rala’s and a group attempting to divide the revenue of the Devalaya amongst themselves to which the current Basnayake Nilame, D.P Kumarage was an obstruction.

Claims of a Ministry Official

Speaking to isis.lk a Ministry official claimed this issue is based purely on money. “As soon as he was appointed Basnayake Nilame got in to a tussle with a main Kapu Rala, Somipala Ratnayake and introduced a lot system to do the services in the Devalaya” he said.

According to the official the Devalaya has five kapu ralas who conducted services one month each for five months. They get the revenue for that month but also give the Devalaya Rs. 2 million. The rest of the 7 months the service schedule was given after casting lots.

The first issue cropped up when Ratnayake had attempted to carry out services other than the month he got through a lot forcefully. This is when the issue of the key cropped up the Official said. According to him this issue that keeps continuing.

Where is the retired Judge’s investigation report?

It also must be noted that the investigations had taken place in a suspicious manner. Firstly during the incident regarding the Key not only as the Minister present for the discussion but his son, top officials of the Ministry, Basnayake Nilame, District Secretaries, Police and Kapu ralas were also present. Due to complaints regarding both parties, the Minister at the time had announced that a committee will be appointed headed by a retired supreme court judge to look in to the matter.

The Minister now claims the suspension comes after the committee report submitted. However various questions pop up on observation.

These are listed below hoping for satisfactory answers from the Commissioner General of Buddhist Affairs.

1. Why is the report made by the retired Supreme Court Judge not published?

2. Is it a secret report?

3. During this investigation are thee not allegations against the main kapurala for violating the lot system?

4. Has the Basnayake Nilame not investigated charges levelled against them?

5.For example isnt it important to check if the Kapuralas have paid the required Rs. 2 Million monthly to the Devalaya?

6. How many complaints have been received against Kapuralas not doing so?

7. Are these not financial issues?

8. Why is an investigation not carried out against the Basnayake Nilame under S. 15.1 of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance No. 19 of 1931?

9. Why was a charge sheet not issue relating to the suspension?

10. Why was Dilruwan Rajapaksa apointed as acting Basanayake Nilame? Why is he so important?

11. Why was an additional commissioner not appointed to the position instead?

12. Can the Ministry assure that Wedihiti Kanda and Kiri Vehera which comes under the Temporalities ordinance is being financially managed property?

13. Why is the Basnayake Nilame of the Saman Devalaya not being removed in the same way Kumarage was removed after even hiding the initial investigation report?

14. Does the Minister and the Commissioner of Buddhist Affairs have no knowledge of the audit report of the financial irregularities that took place in Maha Saman Devalaya in Ratnapura?

These questions arose in our mind while watching this drama that has unfolded which has even left other staff without their salaries. These issues must be answered by officials. Therefore we hope the Commissioner gives us the necessary answers.

It is not to grant justices to infidels who go to Kataragama to over ask but instead to show the calibre of men you are to the people of the country as opposed to God.

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Government institutions made Rs. 25 billion profit due to bond issue: Here’s the proof - Controversial statement from Aloysius

Despite claims that the controversial bond issue incurred serious losses to the government, Attorneys appearing for Arjun Aloysius claim that his client is in possession of proof to render all these claims as false.

Ready to reveal the truth

His lawyers made these claims when contacted by isis.lk to elicit a response regarding the revelations on social media that Arjun Aloysius is scheduled to make a special announcement regarding the controversial bond issue.

Lots of underhand work afoot

Further expressing their views, they said that while various claims regarding the bond issue are made on political stages, their client had wished to remain silent. According to them, however, he has now decided to reveal the truth into the bond issue locally and internationally as there is an attempt to eliminate all businesses of their client’s which is an unexpected situation for a businessman.

A profit of USD 170 Million

They say his client has made the clear calculations regarding the bond transactions and accordingly he now has proof that government’s financial entities involved in the transaction had received a profit of more than Rs. 25 Billion (USD 170 Million).

Speaking further, they pointed out that they also have reports of profit incurred by the three state institutions which got involved in the bond transaction through their client.

Profit of the 3 government institutions

Accordingly, the Employee’s Provident Fund has made Rs. 22.5 Billion, the National Insurance Corporation has made Rs. 2.9 Billion and the National Savings Bank has made Rs. 1.2 Billion, they said.

They also point out that at various times the investigations have mentioned that the government incurred losses due to the transaction but in reality, these are in fact ‘Hypothetical losses’.

Issue has been politicized without knowing the true facts

They also mention that losses are not incurred by purchasing these bonds using government funds in the secondary market but also get the opportunity to trade these and earn profits.

While pointing out that it is a continuous cycle, they say it is unfortunate that the public with no knowledge regarding the functions of bond issues, primary dealers and secondary markets are being misled by politicizing this issue.

 

 

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