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Sunday, 12 April 2015

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Floating Armoury report due this week

Gotabhaya, other military officers under investigation:

The Government will receive this week the Police Criminal Investigations Department report on the probe into the arms deals and high seas military venture scandal involving the secretive Avant Garde Security Services and Rakna Arakshaka Lanka that may have cost the government billion-rupee losses as well as risked breaches in the global counter-terrorism effort. State Minister for Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, who disclosed this, told the Sunday Observer the CID investigation had been “closely monitored” by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, given its potentially international security ramifications. The State Minister for Defence did not disclose any details of the operations being investigated such as the possibly massive governmental financial losses due to the uncoordinated arms transactions and the costly maintenance of floating armouries and private military units.

A number of retired military officers and private sector business people as well as former Defence Ministry Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse are under investigation in connection with this probe.

Wijewardene said the government-run Lanka Logistics Ltd, which took on the monopoly of military procurement for Sri Lanka’s high-cost war against the separatist insurgency under the previous regime, would be maintained under a new management to ensure that no third party intermediaries get involved in arms procurements thereby avoiding both security risks as well as any commission-based commercial cost overruns.

Wijewardene said the government would continue with Lanka Logistics until an alternative military procurement structure had been devised that would eliminate security loop holes and the possibility of financial corruption.

On January 18 this year, police detained a vessel carrying 12 container loads of weapons at the Galle Harbour.

The Sri Lanka-flagged vessel ˜MV Mahanuwara” was later revealed to be the floating armoury operated by Avant Garde Maritime Services, a subsidiary of private security firm Avant Garde Security Services (Pvt) Ltd. Avant Garde is owned by retired military officer Nissanka Senadhipathi, who is believed to be having close links with the former Defence Secretary.

Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd entered into a joint venture with the Rakna Arakshaka Lanka in a government-owned business undertaking to provide infrastructure facilities for international maritime security services.

The Government is taking steps in order to avoid repeating military procurement malpractices that occurred during the former Government, according to Minister Wijewardane. “To streamline military procurements we took a decision first to change the Board of Directors of the Lanka Logistics and Technologies Ltd. - a fully government owned entity under the purview of the Defence Ministry. A new board will be appointed soon,” he added.

Going on record during a recent press conference, Inspector General of police N.K. Illangakoon said that the floating armoury case is one of 11 major cases currently under CID investigation.

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