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Sri Lanka PM Mahinda Rajapaksa's cousin, husband named in Pandora papers investigation

In 2018, 31 paintings & other art pieces were transferred to a secure warehouse

nirupamaf Nirupama Rajapaksa | Wikimedia Commons

Two relatives of Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have been named in Pandora papers, analysis on documents related to offshore financial companies, led by ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists), a global investigative journalism group showed.

Cousin of both Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president and prime minister of Sri Lanka, Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan has been named in the leaked Pandora papers, which were investigated by the ICIJ in collaboration with the BBC, the Washington Post, the Guardian, WDR/NDR and others.

The details were found among a cache of 11.9 million files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. It was revealed on Sunday, that Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan made investments and bought luxury apartments in London and Sydney through shell companies. The Pandora papers expose secret offshore investments of 35 world leaders, 300 public officials like those holding ministerial positions, judges, mayors and military generals from over 90 countries. 

“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,” the ICIJ report reads. “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,” the report states further.

Pacific Commodities, one of the shell companies identified in the report, in 2018, 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. According to the ICIJ report, Nadesan is connected with Concord Assets Inc, Pallene Investment Limited, Pacific Commodities Limited, Nadesan Trust, The Sri Nithi Trust, Pacific Trust, Challan Oil Exploration Limited, and Rosetti Limited, while his wife, Nirupama Rajapaksa had been connected with Challan Oil Exploration Limited, and Rosetti Limited, the analysis showed.

“Asiaciti Trust managed some of Nadesan’s offshore companies and trusts, with assets valued at about $18 million, according to an ICIJ analysis,” the report said. 

Nadesan's offshore companies and trusts, which held assets worth $18 million, had been managed by Asiaciti trust, a Singapore-based offshore services provider. A 2011 email to Asiaciti showed that an adviser of Nadesan’s had put his total wealth at around $160 million. Both Nirupama Rajapaksa and Nadesan have refused to answer ICIJ's questions about their trusts and companies. In 2016, Nadesan was arrested in a luxury villa property that’s said to be linked to current Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Nadesan was charged with embezzlement in connection with the real estate deal.

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