- “Ranil and Malik did not deliver – I did”: Sabir Hussein
By Faraz Shauketaly
Sensational new information obtained by The Sunday Leader show that the former Chairman of the UNP and Ranil Wickremesinghe-confidant, Malik Samarawickrema, collected on behalf of UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe a huge Rs. 48 million from one “donor”. Swedish based Sri Lankan businessman, Sabir Hussein, 50, contacted The Sunday Leader with details.
Hussein gave documentary evidence of one such donation he made from Sweden, and claims that it was part of a substantial donation of approximately USD 460,000 made to the UNP. The bulk of these funds were given to the Leader of the Opposition, according to Hussein.
Malik Samarawickrema last week claimed that he had no knowledge of funding from foreign countries; in this instance however, the transfer is from an individual based overseas. Samarawickrema who was Chairman of the UNP at the time, at first denied that Hussein had made any donations at all. But when told that The Sunday Leader had documentary evidence to prove otherwise he said that it was possible that Hussein had indeed made a transfer of “perhaps Rs. 2 million” and that he had to check his records.
The Sunday Leader has documentary evidence which proves a transfer of USD 9000 in November 2001 to Penguin Sportwear Ltd. which company Samarawickrema confirmed belongs to him.
Due to the fact that Hussein’s claims would make him a well known donor, The Sunday Leader spoke to many prominent UNP members: Lakshman Seneviratne said that he was not aware of Hussein but that in itself was not unusual – he was aware of many others who had also made donations but were not known to other party leaders. Seneviratne did not wish to disclose any specific names in the interest of discretion. Dayasiri Jayasekera said he had not heard of Hussein and that was probably because he did not get involved with funding issues.
Sajith Premadasa, who is widely expected to succeed Wickremesinghe as party leader, confirmed that he was aware of Sabir Hussein, describing him as a “friend.” Premadasa however was unable to confirm details of any donations as he was not involved in those matters, he said.
Malik Samarawickrema meanwhile called The Sunday Leader to disclose that he had information to suggest that Hussein had a criminal record in Sri Lanka. Independent checks by The Sunday Leader confirmed that Hussein did not have any criminal record in Sri Lanka. Later, Samarawickrema contacted us again to say that he was unsure whether Hussein indeed had a criminal record and that in fact it had to do with an issue with the Swedish authorities. If it is the case that Hussein has a criminal record and that Samarawickrema was aware of it , it proves that Ranil Wickremesinghe had no qualms about taking huge amounts of money from criminals.
Ranil Wickremesinghe was said to be out of Colombo without his mobile phone and returning only on Sunday. His security officer SSP Wicremesinghe said that the leader’s mobile phone was with him and he would attempt to contact the Leader of the Opposition “somehow” and get him to return our calls. Wickremesinghe did not. For good measure we left a message with the security officer asking that he return our call as we were going to press.
According to Hussein, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Malik Samarawickrema hatched a plan and virtually coerced him into making sizable donations to the UNP promising “deals”, a “diplomatic position” and exclusive rights for a super luxury entertainment centre in Colombo complete with a high-end casino. (See inside pages for full story.)
Sabir Hussein is a self-made millionaire who made his money in the internet boom years. He was a pioneer operator of internet gaming businesses and made his specialty in the marketing of these sites – at one time he had millions of internet users logging on to sites that he worked with. MSN reported during the triumphant days of the internet, that Sabir Hussein was one of the largest advertisers on MSN portals. We carry a full interview and report within this edition.