By Nirmala Kannangara
More explosive details of the ‘golden gift’ scandal at the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) have been unearthed by The Sunday Leader.
Startling revelations have now emerged as to how Chairman, NGJA, Anil Koswatte demanded gold from gem miners free of charge prior to the ‘Jewels Sri Lanka 2010’ exhibition which is believed to have been used to craft a gem studded golden replica of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Senior Development Manager – Lands/ Mining Technology and Miner Interests, NGJA, G.W. Amarasiri confirmed the receipt of gold from a gem miner prior to the Jewels Sri Lanka 2010 exhibition while the miner himself, Ananda Samarathunge of Ananda Miners admitted to The Sunday Leader that he presented gold to the NGJA Chairman.
According to Amarasiri, Ananda Miners had given between 200 g – 300 g of gold to Chairman Koswatte but he was unable to give the exact date when it took place, as he was out of Colombo when The Sunday Leader contacted him.
In the meantime NGJA sources confirmed to The Sunday Leader that Ananda Miners had given more than 300 grams of gold free of charge to the Chairman at his request. However now Koswatte is pretending that the gold he received from Samarathunge was not a gift, but was gold powder that had been discovered at the Diyathalawa gem excavation site.
Questions have now been raised as to what Koswatte has done with this gold if he has not given any gold gifts to the Chief Guests and the VVIPs as claimed in his letter to The Sunday Leader last week.
In his letter he claimed, “I have purchased nine gift items for the Chief Guests and other VVIPs who attended the Jewels Sri Lanka 2010 Exhibition, from Stone N’ String to the value of Rs. 98,949 using my personal funds.”
In a related development, The Sunday Leader is in possession of undated vouchers where 11 gem studded gold Sri Lankan maps and 200 ruby tie clips had been purchased by NGJA from Rathna Jaya Gems of No: 233 Galle Road, Dehiwala and Mohksha Ltd (without any address) respectively. The 11 Sri Lankan maps have been purchased to the value of Rs. 209,000 while the 200 ruby tie clips to the value of Rs. 368,041. The question is this — where have the golden gifts gone?
Chairman Anil Koswatte meanwhile continued to vehemently deny to The Sunday Leader that he had misappropriated state funds insisting he will resign with immediate effect if any evidence is found proving him guilty.