Chinese company accused of vanishing with deposit for Sri Lanka tower project

Business | 17 Sep 2019 2:29 pm

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday a Chinese company with a Beijing address, and which was a party to a tower project in Colombo had disappeared after accepting an advance of two billion rupees (US$11.09 million).
He made the revelation at the opening of a China Exim Bank funded, 350-meter tower, called “Lotus Tower'' in the capital, Colombo. Part of the funds has been given as a loan by the China Exim Bank.

China's Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Cheng Xueyuan was on hand for the opening. 

Sirisena said Colombo is obliged to pay the loan in 10 annual instalments of 2.4 billion rupees.

President Sirisena, said the project is yet to be compelted, but Sri Lanka “decided to go ahead and open sections of the tower.''

He said that in 2012, under his predecessor former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the state-run Telecommunication Regulatory Commission had deposited 2 billion rupees with Aerospace Long-March International Trade Co Ltd (ALIT), a Chinese firm chosen as one of the main contractors, Reuters reported.

“In 2016, we found ALIT had disappeared. We investigated into this and the Sri Lankan ambassador in Beijing went to the address of ALIT personally on my instruction to find there was no such company,” Sirisena said. “This is the money we could have spent for development of this country, for education, and medicines of patients.”

China’s Exim Bank in 2012 agreed to lend 80 percent of the total investment of US$104.3 million in the Lotus Tower, with the rest to be met by TRC.

TRC in a statement said Chinese firms China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC) and Aerospace Long-March International Trade Co were chosen as the main contractors.

The project was initiated during the ousted Rajapaksa regime, a close ally of China. Rajapaksa and his family borrowed heavily from China to fund many vanity projects,which he named after himself, and which did not provide any economic returns.

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