It has been revealed that former media minister Keheliya Rambukwella hired two people as consultants at Lake House on December 7, 2020, and paid more than Rs. 1.8 million as consultancy fees. These two people are accused of the shameful crime of stealing and pulverizing the historical Sandagala in Kandy.
They were accused of stealing the artifact, weighing one tonne, that was located in the ancient palace of King Kethi Sri Rajasinghe in Kundasale and reducing it to small particles, suspecting that it contained a hidden treasure. One of the consultants appointed by the minister to the Lake House had been identified as the main culprit behind the crime.
This accused, whom the police identified as being involved in the Sandagala robbery, is the business coordination secretary of the minister, Keheliya Rambukwella, who resides in Aruppola. He was attached to the Lake House and received a payment as a consultant. However, Lake House sources said that he has not set foot inside the company during the time he has worked as a consultant.
The intelligence agencies had reported that the suspect had disappeared from his Aruppola residence and was under the protection of the minister since the investigation related to the Sandagala crime was handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department.
It was recorded in the CCTV footage how this coordinating secretary gave cover and protection to the theft by using his Defender Jeep.
Later investigations revealed that this person also owns the boom truck used to remove the artifact.
The police said that the other person who was paid by Lake House as a consultant on the orders of Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was the person who threw the crushed pieces of the Sandagala stone into the Mahaweli River from Aruppoli after crushing it on the assumption that it contained a treasure.
During the questioning in this regard at the COPE Committee, the Additional General Manager of Finance of the Lake House stated that the salaries of these two persons were paid on the recommendations of the Board of Directors as per the recommendations of the Minister.
During the questioning conducted by the COPE Chairman, Prof. Ranjith Bandara, and Member of Parliament, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Lakehouse Chairman, and Secretary of the Ministry of Media, Anusha Palpita stated that the institution has made a serious mistake and will ensure that such mistakes will not be repeated.
“I admit… I did not get the service commensurate with that money. Currently, we are releasing employees to the President’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Office on secondment. Employees have also been released when requested by the Ministry of Mass Media.
From now on, under no circumstances will that situation be allowed to arise for any reason.”
“And it must be said. No incident of this nature has been reported during the time of Minister Dallas or during the time of Minister Bandula. I say that with responsibility. This has been a serious mistake. and we can’t do anything about it now. I believe that even if these people did not serve us, they may have served the minister in charge of the subject. However, I do not approve of this. “
Anusha Palpita, Lakehouse Chairman and Secretary, Ministry of Media, said
Auditor General W.P.C. Wickramaratne, who intervened at this point in time, pointed out that a salary is given to an employee based on the service rendered by that employee, subject to conditions and an organizational legal framework, and if an organization pays a salary to a person who does not meet those conditions, the officer who recommended the payment of that salary should be responsible for those payments.
The COPE committee ordered the board of directors to look into the matter and submit a report in weeks’ time