Garlic scam at Welisara Sathosa Warehouse: “How can a whistle-blower become a suspect?” – Hard talk | Daily Mirror
Posted on February 12th, 2022

Mahinda Gunasekera Toronto, Canada

Honourable Minister,

This appears to be a politically spun web to make the whistle blower a suspect in a clear case of wrong doing by the corrupt officials and politicians in charge of the operations at the Lanka Sathosa by cooking up some false allegations against Mr. Thushan Gunawardena, former Executive Director of the Consumer Affairs Authority who initiated action to expose the racket taking place involving a consignment of 56,000 kg of Garlic that had been sent to the Sathosa Warehouse.  The LINK to the article carried in the Daily Mirror on February 7, 2022 is given below for your easy reference:

Mr. Thushan Gunawardena who is a well educated person having held a responsible position in a large establishment overseas had left his employment to come and work in Sri Lanka at the request of Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse who at the time was making preparations to contest the post of President of Sri Lanka.  He had come to discover that a corrupt set of officials, politicians and their relatives working at Sathosa along with a mafia of corrupt traders were carrying on a well organized racket of supplying items to Sathosa, having these condemned as being unfit for human consumption, and thereafter taking back the stock and reselling the same lot at twice or three times the price at which they take the condemned stock back to Sathosa thereby cheating the consumer of receiving these goods at reasonable prices.

In fact, I watched another video discussion with Chamuditha where representatives of the original importers of the Garlic said that two containers of the 17 or so containers of Garlic brought to the country by them awaiting clearance pending release of US Dollars to cover the LC’s opened for same had been taken over by the mafia of suppliers with the knowledge or complicity of the Customs authority and shipped to Sathosa to be repurchased after the bogus condemnation and resold at an excessive price back to Sathosa for distribution to the public. They too have complained of the unauthorized release of part of their shipment of imported Garlic, and are today under death threats they assume is from the mafia of traders to the three executives of the importing firm and their families asking them to withdraw their case.  Chamuditha Samarawickrema had also previously interviewed Mr. Thushan Gunawardena after he had taken steps to report the racket to investigating authorities at the initial stages on being tipped off by an unnamed source, and his having documents to prove the charges.

The whistle blower who acted in good faith later becoming a suspect in the whole affair is subsequently stopped from boarding a plane at the Katunayake airport at the Immigration Desk in the Departure Lounge, and his baggage already delivered by him at the airlines counter has to be offloaded from the plane, and he is compelled to cancel his prearranged trip overseas.

It is a disgrace that such corruption and racketeering takes place in Sri Lanka with the knowledge of politicians who are influential enough even to have the Police name the original whistle blower who took action to have the matter investigated declared a suspect and his freedom of movement to be so blocked and baggage to be pulled out of the airplane.  Even he did state that he had death threats coming to him over the telephone apparently by the racketeering mafia of traders or the politicians involved who wish to cover up their being exposed of corrupt dealings at Sathosa. I find it difficult to understand how the Police proceed to make this gentleman a suspect without even notifying him purely on the basis of senior politicians interfering in the work of the service.

Mr. Thushan Gunawardena did state in one of his video interviews that he had even brought his detections to the attention of H.E. the President, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse, and made suggestions to having the establishment reorganized to run for the benefit of the consumer.  I too personally wrote to H.E. the President asking him to have the Sathosa audited in respect of all operations and take action to clean up all irregularities and get rid of the wrongdoers.  Trust you will look into this matter on an urgent basis and ensure that the Police follow the rules in the conduct of their affairs without bending the rules to wrongly frame persons to please their political superiors.

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera
Toronto, Canada

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