Monday, October 31, 2011

Sri Lanka's former Chief Justice says parliament has no powers to investigate a retired judge

Sri Lanka's former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva said to media today that the parliament had no powers to investigate a retired judge.

He made these comments speaking on the the request by 75 MPs submitted to the speaker to appoint a parliamentary select committee to probe his tenure.

Highlighting President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself had given him a letter highly praising his services, the former Chief Justice said that MPs’ request was conflicting with the president’s letter,

Reportedly, 70 government MPs have signed the petition to appoint a PSC to look into the happenings in the judiciary system during the period of Sarath N. Silva. The committee is expected to compensate those who were affected by the unfortunate decisions during his tenure.
Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva who was a close associate of the former President Chandrika Kumaratunga became an ardent supporter of the opposition following his retirement.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sri Lanka major opposition party appoints a diciplinaty committee to probe charges against two members

Sri Lanka's major opposition United National Party (UNP) says that a disciplinary committee has been appointed to probe the charges against UNP Mathara district MP Buddhika Pathirana and Western Provincial Councillor Shiral Lakthilaka.

The diciplianry committee was appointed at the UNP working committee meeting held yesterday.

The disciplinary committee is headed by Thilak Marapana, a former UNP MP and a former Attorney General.

The disciplinary committee is to meet next week, party sources say.

The decisions to be taken in the disciplinary committee is to be reported to the party leader and the Working Committee.

Pathirana and Lakthilaka are accused of violating the articles 7 and 9 of the UNP constitution.

Sri Lanka to increase price of fuel

Sri Lanka government sources say that focus is on increasing the price of fuel.

Sri Lanka Petroleum Corporation says that the loss from petrol is Rs. 2, the loss from diesel is Rs. 27 and the loss from kerosene is Rs. 39.

The loss to the Corporation is reportedly increasing and the government is under pressure for increasing the price, sources say.

Sources further say that the supply of fuel at highly subsidized rates to Sri Lanka Electricity Board is another reason for the losses of the Sri Lanka Petroleum Corporation.

A liter of petrol is Rs. 125, a liter of diesel is Rs. 76 and a liter of diesel is Rs. 61 at Sri Lanka Petroleum Corporation outlets.

Sri Lanka's Norochcholai coal power plant out of operation

Trade union sources of Sri Lanka Electricity Board say that the newly built Lak Wijaya coal plant at Norachcholai remains out of operation owing to technical problems.

However, these technical problems also remain unspecified, according to trade unions.
A move by the CEB Board of Directors to hand over the management of the Lak Wijaya Power Plant at Norachcholai to a Chinese Company for six months, at a staggering fee of USD three million, was turned down last month by the Power and Energy Ministry.

The CEB which is incurring heavy losses due to purchasing of electricity at higher rates from private sector to cope with the demand has already asked for a tariff hike.

The coal power plant now defunct was built by China Machinery Engineering Corporation. It is operated by Sri Lanka Electricity Board since July. The plant was officially handed over to the Sri Lanka Electricity Board since September.

280 employees of Sri Lanka Electricity Board have been trained to manage the coal power plant. Of them, around 100 including 80 engineers were trained in China.

82 doctors idling in the Ministry of Health while 47 medical centers shut in Sri Lanka due to doctor shortage

A spokesman of Sri Lanka Ministry of Health said to local Sinhala newspaper The Diavaina that 92 doctors were idling in government hospitals while 47 medical centers were shut island wide due to shortage of doctors.

These doctors are attached to the Ministry of Health without assigning them proper duty, the spokesman says pointing out that they are engaged in duties of the clerks in some instances.However, many of them report to duty only once or twice a week and sign for the whole week, the spokesman points out adding that they withdraw even overtime.

These doctors are attached to the Ministry of Health in the guise of bio-medical engineers and planners, the spokesman says. But the real motive of them is to avoid service in difficult area with the influence of the senior officials of the Ministry.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jobs had Google phones in crosshairs: biographer - LANKA BUSINESS REPORT

Jobs had Google phones in crosshairs: biographer - LANKA BUSINESS REPORT


What Gadaffi said before he was killed

Gaddafi's Last Words as Rebels Dragged Him Through Street

"Do you know what's right or wrong?"

He is heard to say: "What you're doing is wrong, guys. What you're doing is wrong.

"Do you know what is right or wrong?"

As they continued to drag the 69-year-old through the street he whispered: "What are you doing? It's haraam [forbidden].

"It's not allowed in Islamic law. Haraam.

"What you are doing is forbidden in Islam!"

A rebel drowns him out by screaming: "God is great! God is great!"

Another shouts: "Shut up you dog."

Read the full article

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A denunciation of the 'Rat Man' (A review on The Meaning of Sarkozy by Alain Badiou)

Wangees Sumanasekara has translated this book into Sinhala. The launch is organized and addressed by former X Group members and their current mentors. We adopted this review because of it. 

Nicolas Sarkozy once spoke admiringly of Tony Blair and of Britain's economy. Lethargic France, Sarkozy suggested during his campaign to become the country's president, could learn a thing or two from zesty, entrepreneurial Albion. That was spring 2007, which feels now like a different political era. Sarkozy won. Blair retired. And then the British economy, and the global financial system that sustained it, broke down.

So what does Sarkozy stand for now? What, for that matter, does Gordon Brown stand for? Or David Cameron? Their strategies, their movements, their rhetoric, were all variations on a theme of liberal, free-market capitalism. Suddenly the music stopped and, like children in a party game, they were caught striking meaningless poses.

That is what western politics has always looked like to Alain Badiou. The eminent French philosopher is not tuned into the music of liberal democracy. He refuses to accept any of the premises of what he calls "parliamentary cretinism", preferring to judge politicians by their proximity to the absolute moral truth contained in "the communist hypothesis". On those terms, it isn't surprising that he finds the current French president deficient. In The Meaning of Sarkozy, the first English translation of Badiou's angry meditations after the election, the author can hardly bear to write his subject's name, referring to him mostly as "the Rat Man".
In Britain, this brand of ultra-leftism rarely leaves the university campus. But in some quartiers of Paris, Badiou is practically a celebrity. Salons erupted with feverish chatter when The Meaning of Sarkozy was first published. So when he quotes Mao approvingly and equivocates over the rights and wrongs of the Cultural Revolution, it is hard not to feel a certain pride in workaday Anglo-Saxon empiricism, which inoculates us against the tyranny of pure political abstraction. Badiou erects a huge theoretical edifice, heaping abstract nouns on top of each other, unhindered by any apparent obligation to cite data in support of his views. He thinks, therefore it is.

Yet the book is strangely compelling. Badiou is a serious philosopher, literary critic and dramatist. While the destination of his intellectual march is borderline Bolshevik, he makes some sensible observations about conservatism along the way. And since Britain's next prime minister is probably going to be a conservative, it is bracing to see that ideology assailed with such passion. After all, no one in the Labour party is doing the job.

So what is the meaning of Sarkozy? In Badiou's analysis, the conservative proposition in the election was basically fear. Sarkozy conjured a spectre of social breakdown and moral decline, playing on public concerns about crime and immigration. He had already cultivated a reputation as a hard man as interior minister under President Jacques Chirac and famously responded to race riots in Paris suburbs in 2005 with a promise to "hose the scum" off the streets.

That message was refined, in the presidential campaign, into a more nuanced promise of purgative change: a return to traditional social values and a "rupture" from social malaise, for which, Sarkozy implied, the left, with its fetish for all things anti-establishment, was to blame.

And how did the left respond? Demoralised and infiltrated by free market ideas, the Socialists, lead by Ségolène Royale, could only muster an appeal to fear of a different kind: that the right would tear away what few protections the state still offered against the ravages of a sink-or-swim capitalist economy. Badiou scorns this proposition as a vacuous derivation of Sarkozy's fear-mongering. He calls it fear of fear.

In such circumstances, the act of voting, he says, is senseless complicity in corruption. The lesser of two evils is still evil. He is particularly disgusted by the idea that popular consultation is supposed to bestow moral legitimacy on the winner. He deconstructs, with languid, sarcastic ferocity, the notion that "France chose Sarkozy". Which France? On whose terms did it choose?

Badiou's proposition is that rather than vote, the individual should reject all conventional political parameters and anchor himself to a transcendent "truth proposition". By that, he means an idea - artistic, social, political - that does not depend on the surrounding commercial or cultural climate to give it meaning, and that expresses in some way the collective will of humanity to advance towards its ultimate emancipation. (If that sounds abstract, consider a fragment of the prose Badiou uses to develop the thesis: "In this way, we construct, in the temporality of opinion, a different duration, distinct from that which we have been driven into by the symbolisation of the state.") In other words, any belief that reinforces the capitalist status quo is morally suspect.

Badiou strives to distinguish his notion of communism from the one that rather conspicuously failed in the 20th century. But it is hard to escape the impression of an ageing class warrior - Badiou is 72 - railing against the waning of his own strength. He is the quintessential soixante-huitard - a veteran of the revolution manque in Paris in May 1968 - who, after climbing down from the barricade, forged a comfortable career teaching successive generations about the moral bankruptcy of the bourgeois state from inside bourgeois, state-funded universities.

No wonder he despises Sarkozy. The "bling bling" president with the pop star wife, who has actively positioned himself as a scourge of all that May 1968 represents in France, is Badiou's existential enemy. He sees Sarkozy as the embodiment of a strain of moral cowardice in French politics, in which the defining moment was the installation of Marshal Pétain as head of the pro-Nazi collaborationist government. For Badiou, Sarkozy is a symbol of "transcendent Pétainism".

This is a very French piece of political venom and many of Badiou's arguments don't apply in Britain. Still, there are motifs that resonate sharply on this side of the Channel. His account of the intellectual flaccidity of the French Socialist party - its fear-of-fear agenda - feels like a summary of Labour's next manifesto, while his attack on Sarkozy's promise of social renewal also applies to the "broken society" theme on which David Cameron campaigns.

Cameron has gone out of his way to avoid sounding authoritarian on social issues (remember the hug-a-hoodie phase?), but he shares with Sarkozy a kind of conservative moralism disguised as social radicalism. The underlying argument, familiar from any number of Daily Mail editorials, goes as follows: politically, the left is obsessed with state power; culturally, it indulges moral permissiveness. As state intervention increases, it creates welfare dependency, corroding individuals' self-reliance and allowing social bonds, such as the traditional family, to atrophy. Meanwhile, absolute moral authority is replaced by cultural relativism and, in the British version, "political correctness".

This argument, suggests Badiou, is a device to woo bourgeois voters, whose two greatest fears are crime and loss of wealth. It would not do for a politician to point out to those voters a connection between crime and inequality, since that would imply that they should surrender some of their wealth to the common good. Instead a new explanation for crime is devised - it is a moral failing among poor people. Better still, it is a moral failing engendered by the left! So not only has the left failed to emancipate the poor, it has actually corrupted them. The middle classes need no longer feel guilty at the sight of poverty. In fact, they can bask in the righteous glow of victimhood, believing themselves besieged by a degenerate, aggressive lower class.

In other words, the whole "broken society" line is an elaborate way of blaming poor people for their own problems and so, conveniently, justifying a refusal to change an iniquitous economic hierarchy. In the context of David Cameron's Tory party, it hardly makes sense to describe this as "transcendent Pétainism". So what, for the sake of argument, would our national equivalent be? Of what political thread might Cameron be the sublime manifestation?

It would be economically liberal - a variant of Thatcherism - but dressed in vague aspirations to achieve social justice. It would eschew any radical assault on the free market, diverting public anger instead against the vice of "antisocial behaviour". And it would embody the politics of winning and wielding power as a glorified public relations exercise. The word for that, of course, is Blairism.

Rafael Behr
The Observer, Sunday 1 March 200

Friday, October 7, 2011

Media under attack in Sri Lanka fights back

Lasantha Ruhunage, the Secretary of Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association has complained to the Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya against the alleged election malpractices of Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Ruhunage a journalist of Ravaya newspaper says “Defence Secretary requested the people to assure the victory of Milinda Moragoda and later he addressed a campaign rally that supports UPFA candidates."

He argues that senior public officers do not have political rights. He further argues that the Defense Secretary's move is against the establishment code and amount to misuse of public assets.

Meanwhile, five media organizations of Sri Lanka vehemently condemned an action what they call as high handed by Moratuwa [p;ice of Sri Lanka.

The police is alleged of erasing a footage of a journalist of Sirasa TV Indika Sri Aravinda.
Issuing a joint communique, the five media organizations urged the Inspector General of Police to conduct a fair investigation on the police action.

The five media organizations, namely the Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association, The Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, The Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, The Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance, The Sri Lanka Chapter of the South Asian Free Media Association and the Free Media Movement say this action is violation of people's tight to be

Monday, October 3, 2011

True story of recovering oil from Sri Lanka's Mannar Basin

By Reuters

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday said natural gas has been found off the Indian Ocean island nation in the Mannar Basin, in a well Cairn India Ltd. said required more exploration to see if it is commercially viable.

Cairn, a subsidiary of London-listed Cairn Energy Plc , said the find was Sri Lanka's first confirmed hydrocarbon discovery.

"Explorers have informed me that they have found a gas deposit in the seabed," presidential spokesman Wijayananda Herath quoted Rajapaksa as saying to an audience in the hill city of Kandy.

Cairn Lanka, a subsidiary of Cairn India, has one of eight blocks in the Mannar Basin and began drilling in August.

It struck a 25-metre hydrocarbon column showing primarily gas with "other liquid hydrocarbon potential" in the CLPL-Dorado-91H/1z wildcat well, drilled at a water depth of 1,354 metres (4,442 feet).

"Further drilling will be required to establish the commerciality of the discovery," Cairn said in a statement.

In 2007, the government gave one Mannar block each to India and China, but neither has drilled. The remaining five blocks are to be awarded by tender.

"We are optimistic that this will be commercially successful," Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayantha told Reuters. "Now with this discovery, we can get good competition and offers for the remaining five blocks when we go for tendering."

Interest in the blocks has grown, but most operators have been happy to let Cairn try its luck before making any commitments while the government smooths an erratic oil and gas regulatory regime, diplomats following the exploration in Sri Lanka have told Reuters.

It is unclear whether the find will affect terms of a deal by London-listed miner Vedanta Resources to take a majority stake in Cairn India.

Sri Lanka's government has said seismic data shows the potential for more than 1 billion barrels of oil under the sea in a 30,000 sq km area of the Mannar Basin, off the island's north western coast.

Sri Lanka produces no oil and is dependent on imports, which cost it $3 billion in 2009. Since the end of a 25-year war with Tamil separatists two years ago, the government has tried to reinvigorate oil and gas exploration.

American and Russian companies from the mid-1960s to 1984 explored the Cauvery Basin off the northern shore, but only traces were found and no commercial oil was produced.

Violence onshore from Sri Lanka's civil war with the Tamil Tigers ended offshore exploration there.

There are nearly 30 operating wells on the Indian side of the Cauvery Basin, and Calgary-based Bengal Energy Ltd. has exploration rights for 1,362 sq km there. Sri Lanka is hopeful that success will be reflected on its side of the field.

There is also speculation that Sri Lanka's eastern coastal shelf has major oil and gas potential, but there is no seismic data yet to back it up. (Additional reporting by Devidutta Tripathy in New Delhi; Writing by Bryson Hull. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How Raj Rajarathnam was trapped by FBI

By David Rose (Vanity Fair)
Earlier this year, Raj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund, was convicted of conspiracy and securities fraud in one of the biggest insider-trading cases in the history of Wall Street. But there was another reason the Federal Government was interested in Rajaratnam – his alleged financial support for Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka, whose cause is spearheaded by the ferocious Tamil Tiger terrorists. Vanity Fair’s David Rose gets the untold story from a Tamil Tiger turned FBI informant.

In November 2002, the Doubletree hotel in Somerset, New Jersey, hosted a daylong gala: lunch, speeches, dinner, more speeches and finally dancing. There were more than 400 guests, and they were all there to mark the 25th anniversary of the Ilankai Tamil Sangam, ostensibly a cultural and social organization. Many of its members supported the demand by Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority for an independent state, and although the Sangam was not avowedly militant, the flags and videos of the movement’s military wing, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), were on display throughout the hall. The Tamil Tigers, as the group is known, were then in the 19th year of a civil war against the Sri Lankan government. Designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 1997, the Tamil Tigers invented the suicide-bombing belt, a technology it exported to Hamas and Al-Qaeda. The Tigers were responsible for hundreds of suicide attacks on buses, temples, and shopping malls and for village massacres in which children were killed in front of their parents. In May 1991, the Tigers assassinated the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Two years later, they assassinated the Sri Lankan president, Ranasinghe Premadasa.

One of the distinguishing features of the Tamil Tigers is that the group was mostly financed from abroad by the large Tamil Diaspora. Many of its donors were eminently respectable, and worked in America, Canada, Australia, and Europe in professions such as medicine and law. At about seven p.m., it fell to a hospital anesthesiologist to introduce the Doubletree event’s star speaker, Raj Rajaratnam, a corpulent Tamil whose Galleon Group hedge fund had already made him the world’s richest Sri Lankan. His net worth would eventually reach a reported $1.8 billion.

Unbeknownst to Rajaratnam, his audience that night included an FBI informant equipped with a concealed recording device. The informant, whom I will call by one of his nicknames, Rudra, would eventually make thousands of hours of clandestine recordings in the course of his 11-year undercover career, and the Department of Justice has used them as the basis of 20 successful criminal prosecutions. Rudra says his memory of what Rajaratnam said at the gala is clear and it is supported by his former FBI handlers, who heard the recordings when they were made. “He got up and flanked by LTTE flags, he said, ‘Everyone must support the Tigers’ cause,’” Rudra recalls. “He mentioned the fact that his wife was an Indian Sikh [a minority group from which some had also mounted a terrorist campaign aimed at creating a separate state].

Rajaratnam said: ‘They’re terrorists. We’re terrorists. We are all freedom fighters.’ Everyone laughed. Then he added: ‘They’re our terrorists, and you all must support this struggle.’”

Rudra says that Rajaratnam sounded all the more persuasive because his own generosity was well established. For example, a few were aware within the Tamil community that Rajaratnam apparently had given the Tamil cause at least $1 million in recognition of the Tamil victory in 2000 over the Sri Lankan army at the strategic Elephant Pass, which controls access to Sri Lanka’s northern peninsula, where ethnic Tamils are concentrated. (John M. Dowd, a partner at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which represents Raj Rajaratnam, said that Rajaratnam has never directly supported LTTE terrorism. He declined to answer specific questions from Vanity Fair, saying that he had nothing to add to the position already set out on behalf of his client in court filings.)

In May 2011, Raj Rajaratnam was convicted in New York on 14 counts of conspiracy and securities fraud in one of the biggest hedge-fund insider-trading cases in the history of Wall Street. The trial revealed how Rajaratnam developed a web of corrupt relationships and paid millions of dollars for insider tips that enabled him to beat the market time and again. But throughout the two-month hearing, prosecutors said nothing about one of the uses to which Rajaratnam allegedly put his criminally acquired fortune—funding Tamil terrorism.
Jay Kanetkar, who was Rudra’s main FBI handler from 1999 until he left the Bureau in June 2006, says that Rajaratnam’s alleged involvement with terrorism was a significant factor in why the FBI and the Department of Justice went to such extraordinary lengths to nail him. “It was a conscious decision,” Kanetkar says, “to treat Raj the terrorist the way they treated Al Capone when they got him for tax evasion.”

The money trail that leads to Rajaratnam begins in a federal prison in Buffalo, New York, early in 1999. Jay Kanetkar and an FBI colleague, both with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, New Jersey, happened to be looking for a new case to work when they got a call from an agent in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) named Kevin Ryan. He said that Rudra was coming to the end of a five-year prison term imposed for storing two kilograms of heroin in a suitcase at his home on Staten Island as part of a drug-smuggling operation organized by the Tamil Tigers to raise money. A Sri Lankan citizen, now he was due to be deported. That fact, Ryan suggested, might give the FBI some leverage to persuade Rudra to become an informant. Rudra, whose mild, slightly bumbling exterior conceals an evident sangfroid, was then in his mid-thirties and he readily agreed. Although he had been drawn into the Tamil Tiger orbit while studying in India and had even met its murderous leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, he says now that his commitment to their cause had only been lukewarm. He was also angered by the group’s failure to check on his family while he was in prison. Rudra says, “So I decided: I’m going to bring them down.”

Soon after being recruited by the FBI, Rudra met one of the Tigers’ leading international fund-raisers, Vijayshanthar Patpanathan, also known as Chandru, who told him that Rajaratnam was a “high-level business guy” who played a critical role in funding the terrorist group. (Chandru was later convicted and jailed by a New York Federal Court for conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, as a result of information supplied by Rudra.) “Three years before that 2002 fund-raiser, Rajaratnam was identified by Rudra as a major source,” says Kanetkar. Rudra also told the FBI that Raj’s father, Jesuthasan Rajaratnam, a wealthy financial manager in his own right, was another generous donor. Father and son had set up the Rajaratnam Family Foundation, to support charitable causes in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. But it was also a clandestine financial channel for the Tamil Tigers, recent court filings allege. (John M. Dowd, who represents Jesuthasan Rajaratnam as well as his son, Raj, had no comment on specific questions regarding the allegations, but he did say that neither man had ever directly supported the LTTE).

For Rudra, meeting Tiger operatives was not difficult: they were often on hand at social functions, such as those organized by the Sangam. The challenge for him and the FBI was to build his credibility. The ruse his handlers devised was for Rudra to intimate that he had had contact with top Mafia figures in prison, and that through them he had access to corrupt US officials. These, he suggested, could get things done for the Tamil Tigers – such as smuggle Tamils who lacked proper visas into the United States. Beginning in the fall of 2001, Chandru paid Rudra $6,000 a head in order to arrange safe passage at Newark International Airport for at least nine such individuals, whose entry was co-ordinated by the FBI and the INS. Rudra used his supposed “contacts” again in April 2004, when Chandru told him that Father Gaspar Raj, a Catholic priest who was also a key Tamil Tiger member, had been detained by Federal Agents at Newark and was about to be deported. Rudra says: “I called Jay Kanetkar and said he should get him out, and he did.”

Prabhakaran ran the Tamil Tigers abroad on classic, cellular lines, with each group operating independently and unaware of the others’ activities. But Rudra’s standing rose so high that he became an exception, the trusted go-to guy for every Tiger cell in America. “I’ve seen the e-mails,” he says. “They thought I could do anything.” Eventually, he was working with four separate cells, which were variously attempting not only to raise money but to arrange supplies of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles. (The would-be arms smugglers were also arrested and convicted on the basis of Rudra’s testimony.) Meanwhile, says Kanetkar, “he had four concealed video cameras in his living room, plus two in the kitchen. We had every angle covered.” Every time Rudra spoke on the phone or met a contact, the conversation was recorded.
Occasionally there were hiccups, such as the time a recording device fell out of Rudra’s pocket in front of Chandru – “I told him it was a pager,” Rudra says. His reassurance must have worked, for in August 2003 he accompanied Chandru to Sri Lanka. There had been a cease-fire, and they were able to travel from the capital, Colombo to the Vanni, the fortress housing 300,000 people that the Tamil Tigers had built from scratch in the island’s northern jungles. The Vanni had underground bunkers for advanced computers and communications equipment as well as two fully equipped subterranean hospitals. There, Rudra met most of the Tamil Tigers’ senior leadership, wearing a concealed FBI wire all the while.

By 2005, Rudra’s penetration of the Tigers’ network was so deep that the FBI had acquired a comprehensive picture of the group’s fund-raising capability. Raj Rajaratnam’s name came up frequently. “On the recordings, he was spoken of in a reverential way, with all the kudos he got as a financial whizz,” says Kanetkar. “At the same time, he wasn’t a commoner, which is why it was hard for Rudra to get close to him. He was reserved for the big stuff.” For example, in September 2005, two Tamil Tiger members were duped by the FBI. In an attempt to have the Tigers removed from the government terrorism list, they agreed to pay $1 million to two “corrupt State Department officials” (in reality, FBI agents) whom Rudra had introduced them to. The Tamils went straight from that meeting to Rajaratnam’s house, apparently to arrange to get the money, according to Rudra and Kanetkar.

“Rudra told us that the LTTE had given Raj a very large sum of money for him to invest in the Galleon fund,” says Kanetkar. “It was clear that the Tigers did have that kind of money. They were raising $1 million every time they held a function, and also going door to door – extorting people to pay thousands of dollars for the next wave of operations.” Kanetkar and his counterterrorist colleagues had been aware of evidence that Rajaratnam was using illegal insider information since 2001, when wiretaps caught an executive from the Intel Corporation offering him insider tips. The FBI saw the two endeavors – terrorism and insider trading – as connected, says Kanetkar: “Money from insider trading was going into his pocket, and money from his pocket was going to the LTTE.”

For the Tamil Tigers, possibly the most damaging consequence of Rudra’s work undercover was the eventual closure by the authorities of the group’s main fund-raising “front” charities, not only in America but elsewhere, including Britain, where Rudra, accompanied by Kanetkar, shared his knowledge with the British Security Service, MI5. “This had a measurable impact on the course of the war,” says a former Department of Justice official. “It significantly weakened their capacity to fight.” The Tigers’ last stand came in April 2009, when the Sri Lankan army finally overran the Vanni, killing not only Prabhakaran but, allegedly, thousands of noncombatants.

Of the Tamil front groups, the biggest was the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), which was active in 17 countries. Its assets were frozen by the US Treasury in November 2007. Rudra’s secret recordings included detailed accounts by Tiger leaders of how money was transferred from the TRO to the terrorist group itself, and in this case there is a copious documentary record of the role played by Rajaratnam. An affidavit filed in April 2007 by the FBI’s special agent Louis Forella states that the banking records of “individual B” – Rajaratnam, according to court filings show that “[he] wrote three checks totalling $1,000,000 between July and September 2000” that eventually made their way to a TRO account in London, from which much of the money was later withdrawn in cash. The affidavit also cites letters from a later-convicted Tamil Tiger fund-raiser named Karunakaran Kandasamy about the need to fulfill Rajaratnam’s “long lasting desire” to meet Prabhakaran, describing the Galleon Group founder as “among the people who provide financial support for our struggle for freedom. . . [He] has been working actively on the forefront.”
Court filings in a pending civil action against Rajaratnam, being brought by Tamil Tiger victims, more than 30 of their families cite a State Department cable dated October 2006 from James R. Moore, the Deputy Chief of the mission of the US Embassy in Colombo, which was copied to the Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI. Moore described his dealings with Sri Lankan officials on Tamil Tiger financing, and quoted reports from the local central bank’s financial intelligence unit and the ministry of foreign affairs on the TRO and its influx of funds from America (more than from any other country). “Of these remittances from the U.S., the [Rajaratnam] family is the largest private donor,” the cable said. In the period January 2003 to March 2006, according to one of the reports cited by Moore, the TRO in Sri Lanka received nearly $10 million from its affiliate in America, a trend that was continuing, with $566,000 sent in the single month of August 2006. Overall, the Rajaratnam Foundation was contributing more than 35 percent.

The cable added: “These funds have been received from the TRO office registered in Cumberland . . . Maryland, which is the entity that is presently being investigated by the US authorities”—the investigation spearheaded by Rudra—“with regard to arms purchases for LTTE.” When it finally shut the TRO down, the US Treasury stated that the organization had “facilitated LTTE procurement operations” including “the purchase of munitions, equipment, communication devices, and other technology.”

Tax and bank records confirm the scale of Rajaratnam’s support. In the course of 2003, he gave $5.05 million to his family foundation, which in turn passed on $5 million to the TRO. In June 2004, the court filings state, he gave another $1 million directly to the TRO.

At the end of that year, the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated coastal Sri Lanka. Rajaratnam responded by setting up another charity, Tsunami Relief, Inc., which made appeals to the public and was administered by two of his staff at the Galleon Group headquarters, in New York. In all it raised more than $7 million. While money did go to the Sri Lankan government, nearly half of it was given to the TRO in the US and in Sri Lanka.

Rajaratnam gave few interviews before his arrest, in September 2009. But just a month before, he told a Sri Lankan business magazine that he was proud of his “humanitarian work in Sri Lanka,” saying that in the future, he would like to do more. “I’m a firm believer that with success comes responsibility and the incredible power of possibility,” he said, “a responsibility to help those less fortunate and the possibility of actually succeeding in making a difference.” Rajaratnam’s criminal lawyers have told reporters he should receive a lenient sentence for his insider-trading crimes because of his charitable generosity. He is due to be sentenced on October 13.
Could Rajaratnam have genuinely confused charitable works with financial support for terrorism? The evidence suggests he knew exactly what he was doing. In 2001, on the Web site of the Tamil Sangam, the organization Rajaratnam addressed at the Doubletree, Rajaratnam’s father provided the research for statements that set out the association’s credo: “The LTTE is a freedom movement. Historically, freedom movements have been labelled as terrorist organizations by the oppressors. From George Washington to Mahatma Gandhi to Nelson Mandela, all freedom fighters have been called terrorists . . . LTTE has not engaged in any killing that is not justifiable in the context of war.”

Understandably, that’s not how Mike Elsner, the attorney from Charleston, South Carolina, whose law firm, Motley Rice, has filed a claim against Rajaratnam, his father, and the TRO, on behalf of LTTE victims, sees the matter. Insider trading is not exactly a victimless crime, but to work out who is doing the suffering involves calculations that verge on the hypothetical. Elsner’s clients, in contrast, suffered concretely and very directly. In his office he showed me a video compiled from interviews he had conducted in Sri Lanka. They are heartbreaking. Parents – some of them, in Sri Lanka’s multicultural society, Tamil themselves – talk about losing their children in horrifying circumstances, such as the destruction of a high-school baseball team caught in a blast at a Colombo railway station, or a young couple blown up two months before their wedding, and who were buried in the clothes they never got to wear at the ceremony. “This is what Rajaratnam was paying for,” Elsner says. In the response filed to the victims’ lawsuit, Rajaratnam’s lawyers state that there is “no connection” between Rajaratnam’s donations to the TRO and the harm suffered by the claimants, adding that there is no evidence he ever sponsored acts of violence.

Under US law, you do not have to prove that money a person gave to an entity that funded terrorism was actually spent on bombs and bullets: it is enough to show that the recipient body did in fact use some of its funds for terrorist purposes.

The suit, which was filed in Federal Court in New Jersey, has already cleared its initial legal hurdles, with the court accepting jurisdiction and upholding it as a claim for crimes against humanity.
The suit is asking for damages of an unspecified amount. Rajaratnam will almost certainly go to prison as a result of his conviction in the Galleon case. If he ever gets out of jail, he may not still be so rich.
Courtesy: Vanity Fair
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