Johnston demands Rs 1B from Wasantha

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Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister, Johnston Fernando has demanded Rs 1 billion in damages from former JVP MP Wasantha Samarasinghe, due to an allegation made by the latter that a fraud amounting to Rs 164.4 billion has taken place during the construction of the second phase of the Central Expressway.

Fernando, in a Letter of Demand, refuted the said allegations made by Samarasinghe at a press conference while adding that the same false, malicious and defamatory allegations were repeatedly made through various media platforms, both print and electronic. 

According to the Letter of Demand, sent by Attorney-at-Law Kasun Weerasekera, Samarasinghe convened a press conference on or about 20 February 2022, under the theme of ‘Voice Against Corruption Organisation’ and defamed Fernando by stating that he is in the process of committing a financial fraud amounting to Rs 164.4 billion during the construction of the 20km stretch of the Central Expressway from Galagedara to Rambukkana.

Fernando stated the Second Phase project of the Central Expressway was still in the procurement stage and tenders have yet to be even called for the said project adding that only four companies have so far subjected themselves to be assessed at the procurement stage of this project, and no such Chinese Company by the name referred to by you has submitted a proposal for the same.

The letter said the said statements and/or words have wrongfully, maliciously and falsely stated with an ulterior political motive and has attributed bad moral character to Fernando and seeks to diminish his social standing among the public, and is in gross violation of his rights.

“I am instructed that my client estimates the damages caused by you to my client at one billion rupees and you should pay it to my client within 14 days,” the letter read adding that in the event of the failure to do so within the said period, legal action would be instituted.