Former Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa’s name is among 300 high profiled persons whose names have been included in the Pandora Papers, which is a leak of 12 million documents that revealed hidden wealth, tax avoidance and, money laundering by some of them.
The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington DC, which has been working with more than 140 media organisations on the biggest ever global investigation involving more than 600 journalists.
There was no immediate reaction from Ms Rajapaksa on the report which has been circulated worldwide. Ms Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan had declined to answer ICIJ’s questions about their trusts and companies.
The report says:
Nirupama Rajapaksa is a cousin of Sri Lanka’s president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who rose to power during a brutal civil war. She is also a former member of Parliament and served as deputy minister of water supply and drainage from 2010 to 2015.
Her husband, Thirukumar Nadesan, has worked as a consultant and hotel entrepreneur, according to a biography on his company website. In 2016, he was charged with embezzlement in connection with a real estate deal involving another member of the president’s family Basil Rajapaksa, accused of using public funds to build a villa. The case is pending; Nadesan and Basil Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s current finance minister, have denied wrongdoing.
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.