Updated April 25, 2019​ 

Sri Lanka Express

Disgraced Billionaire Raj Rajaratnam in Latest Trove of Panama Papers
List of Sri Lankans in Panama Papers

Yapa Hetti Pathirannahalage Nissanka Yapa Senadhiathi – Avant Garde Pte Ltd
Y H P Kithsiri Manjula Kumara Yapa – Avant Garde Pte Ltd
Senerath Bandara Dissanayake – Avant Garde Pte Ltd
Prasanna Athanasius Sirimevan Rajaratne – Avant Garde Pte Ltd
Kenneth John Pendigrast – PASKEVILLE TRADING LTD
Kenneth John Pendigrast – SCATOLA FINANCE LTD.
Jayakody Arachchige Dona Marian Srini Pamela Jayakody – GRAND RISE INDUSTRY LTD
Jayakody Arachchige Dona Martin Srini Pamela Jayakody – Lucky Stone Indus Ltd.
Palavinnege Sumith Cumaranatunga – EMPIRE STAR HOLDINGS LTD.
Tristan Laurens Bernard – Hotel IQ International Ltd.
Nicola Dawn Hakansson – NETWORK LIMITED
Michael Robert Nasmyth MacPherson – KACHINE LIMITED
Aroon Hirdaramani – Brown International Limited
Mona Hirdaramani and Aroon Hirdaramani as Joints tenants with Rights of Survivorship – STONECROFT INVESTMENTS INC.
Arun Prakash Mahtani – PASSION CHINA LIMITED
Christopher Rohan Martin -Trump Trading Limited
Raj Rajaratnam
Hassina Leelarathna
Billionaire Raj Rajaratnam who is serving an 11-year prison sentence in the US for insider trading is among the names found in the massive Panama Papers database released May 9.  The Sri Lankan-born founder of hedge fund Galleon Group who is known to have provided support to the Tamil Tigers was sentenced in 2011 to an 1l-year sentence on nine counts of securities fraud and five counts of conspiracy.

The latest update of the Panama Papers first leaked in the beginning of April contain several Sri Lankans including four associated with Avant Garde PTE.  

As exclusively reported on this website, the April release of the Panama Papers contained  names tied to Sri Lankan Airlines’ inflight duty-free sales agent Phoenix Duty Free Services AKA Phoenix Rising Ventures, headed by Canadian resident Rumesh Dilan Wirasinghe.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) database consists of more than 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations, and funds incorporated in 21 countries and names of hundreds of wealthy people who hid their cash in offshore accounts.

Over 11 million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca had been leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The paper shared the information with the ICIJ, which is made up of 107 media organizations in 78 countries.
The global news outlets examined 28,000 pages of documents, also revealing the full scale of the tax breaks won by 340 companies. The ICIJ published this statement on its website along with the documents: “There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.”

Panama Papers: Sri Lankan Airlines & Phoenix Inflight Service Connection

Who owns Phoenix? Who actually ripped off the national airline?

By Hassina Leelarathna

Hidden among the thousands of names of offshore accounts and shell companies leaked by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca is one tied to a shady tender awarded by Sri Lankan Airlines for its inflight duty-free sales: Phoenix Duty Free Services AKA Phoenix Rising Ventures, headed by Rumesh Dilan Wirasinghe.

Phoenix came under intense media scrutiny in 2012 when the national airline bypassing tender procedures handed over the highly lucrative contract for inflight sales of cosmetics and liquor to the little-known Canada firm.  Media reports alleged Phoenix executives Dilan Wirasinghe and Raju Chandiram’s  high-level government connections helped them land the contract projected to net profits of nearly $50 million in the next five years. 

There was widespread criticism of SriLankan Airlines directors at the time for failing to   stand up to  Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe.  Local media accused the board of being afraid to challenge a bad deal because, they alleged, of family connections:  Wickremasinghe’s sister was First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa.

At the same time, allegations of nepotism were thrown across the political aisle: Raju Chandiram, they said, was being given a free pass because he had served on the same Board at SriLankan Airlines during the tenure of former Minister for Aviation Mangala Samaraweera.

Fast forward to April 2015 when the Board of Inquiry investigating Sri Lankan Airlines revealed the Phoenix deal to be a total disaster.   Colombo Telegraph reported that SLA had incurred a massive loss of US $ 865,398 after conceding a retrospective amendment to the original contract with Phoenix.  

Under the terms of the original contract, Phoenix had agreed on a guaranteed per-passenger fee to the airline instead of a portion of the sales of duty- free items.
As reported by the CT, a year into the contract, Phoenix, quibbled over the definition of ‘passenger’ when a single journey consists of multiple segments.  SLA capitulated, apparently without much of a legal battle, and wrote off 37 % of the guaranteed payment that Phoenix owed the airline.
SLA was projected to suffer further losses of US $ 2,596,198 over the subsequent two years of its contract.  According to one newspaper comment at the time, despite the losses, Phoenix would not be investigated because of Chandiram’s connections: “… with his good old friend and Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera by his side, Phoenix Duty Free Services MD Raju Chandiram is untouchable for now or so.”

What do the Panama Papers reveal about Phoenix?

Rumesh Wirasinghe who lives in Canada is listed twice in the Panama data trove, as a shareholder and as a director of Transnational Associates Group, an offshore entity with an address in Ontario. 

But the connection between Wirasinghe and Phoenix is not  readily apparent since Phoenix Rising Ventures lies hidden under the name of Thomas Genthithes, a shareholder of Transnational Associates.    Mr. Genthithes is listed as Phoenix Rising’s director and one  Raspreet Chawla as a shareholder of the firm.   Mr. Genthithes is also listed as a the co-founder of another  offshore entity named Inflight Sales Group.

What is the connection between Wirasinghe and Genthithes other than that the latter is a shareholder in Transnational, the company where Wirasinghe is listed as a director?

Phoenix Rising Ventures LTD
Thomas Gentithes
"  .... despite the losses, Phoenix would not be investigated because of Chandiram’s connections: … with his good old friend and Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera by his side ..."

Canadian business records show Genthithes and Wirasinghe as partners in DFP Canada, Ltd., a company specializing in cosmetics, beauty supplies, perfume, and jewelry, with an annual revenue of $595,491 and five employees.  Perhaps DFP supplies the inflight products sold by Phoenix?

As the ICIJ disclaimer states, there’s not necessarily wrongdoing in the mere fact that a company has set up offshore accounts.  But in the case of Phoenix, people at least have the right to know who actually owns the company, who in the end profited from the inflight sales deal.  Might be worthwhile wading into the labyrinth of shell companies and fake business identities just to find out who ripped off national airline.

April 10, 2016