X-Press Pearl bribery controversy: SJB MP Mannapperuma outs himself as the whistleblower
Admitting that it was he who had provided information that a certain person had received a bribe of United States dollars (US $) 250 million in relation to the MV X-Press Pearl maritime disaster, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Opposition Parliamentarian Ajith Mannapperuma yesterday (11) said that it was regrettable that Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister, President's Counsel Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe had thus far failed to ascertain the credibility of that information and make a statement in that regard.
Contradicting Dr. Rajapakshe’s statement on the matter, he also revealed that the said bribe had not been deposited to a bank account that is operating in the United Kingdom (UK), but to an account in the Bahamas.
Dr. Rajapakshe recently said that he had received a piece of information that a Sri Lankan had received a US $ 250 million bribe to scuttle the relevant legal proceedings seeking compensation for the MV X-Press Pearl disaster.
While responding to some allegations levelled against him regarding legal proceedings concerning the said disaster by several Opposition MPs in the Parliament on Wednesday (10), Dr. Rajapakshe said that it was Mannapperuma who had provided him with the information.
In response to the revelation of his name by Dr. Rajapakshe, Mannapperuma yesterday admitted in the Parliament that he had provided the relevant information to Dr. Rajapakshe. “Dr. Rajapakshe says that I have given him the information. Yes. I did so. If I was certain about it, I would not have told it to him confidentially. I told him that I have received the information, and asked him to look into it.” He further said: “After providing this information, I said that this sum of money is not in a bank account in the UK and that a person who is residing in the UK had deposited it to a bank account in the Bahamas.”
Speaking further, Mannapperuma criticised Dr. Rajapakshe for having revealed his name as the informant: “When the truth was being revealed, he (Dr. Rajapakshe) started mentioning my name. Why did he not mention my name when he was initially telling this before the media? He should have mentioned my name there too. He only acted out a drama and did not do anything about it. I regret the fact that it has been more than a month since this information was given, but he has not been able to make a statement yet as to whether this is true or not.”
Following the recent revelation that a Sri Lankan had received the said bribe of US $ 250 million, several parties including the main Parliamentary Opposition, the SJB had challenged Dr. Rajapakshe to reveal the name of the individual in question. He revealed the name of the person in the Parliament in response to such requests on 25 April. "I received a piece of information. I shall reveal it in the Parliament, but I do not accept responsibility for it. I do not know if this is evidence or not. It should be ascertained through the outcome of the investigations which are being carried out by the Police," he said. Revealing the name in question, he said: "As a name, this mentions one 'Chamara Gunasekera’."