Sri Lankan Ambassador A.S.P. Liyanage is set to swindle funds amounting to Qatari Riyals 6.9 million off two bank accounts in Qatar, after he orchestrated a masterful forgery to claim ownership of the Stafford Sri Lanka School Doha and its bank accounts.
Acting on his own accord with no Cabinet or Parliamentary approval granted by the government of Sri Lanka, Ambassador A.S.P.Liyanage abused his diplomatic powers and issued a series of letters on Sri Lanka Embassy letterheads to the respective government departments in Qatar to claim ownership of the school.
The Stafford Sri Lankan School Doha is and has been owned by a Qatari national Yusuf Fridoni, governed by a constitution and run for the last 17 years by its Founder Chairman Kumudu Fonseka and a Board of Trustees.
At no point have the Qatari sponsor Yusuf Fridoni and School authorities sold or transferred the ownership of the school to anyone.
Shortly after obtaining a set of Business Registration Cards which are in his name, Ambassador Liyanage proceeded to submit the set of forged documents and a letter from the Sri Lankan Embassy which stated that the School was only under the 'supervision' of the Sri Lankan Embassy and another letter on a letter head belonging to a school differently named 'Sri Lanka Community School', in order to gain control of the school's two bank accounts.
Unsuspectingly the legal departments of both banks adhering to a request made by a Foreign Mission, accepted and granted control of both bank accounts to two Sri Lankans working at Sri Lanka Embassy named Dhawood Amanulla and Ruwan Dananasooriya Don. The third approved signatory is that of another Sri Lankan expatriate working for a private company name Roshan Balasooriya.
It is reliably understood that the Legal Departments of Commercial Bank of Qatar holding approximately Qatari Riyals 6.7 million and Doha Bank holding approximately Qatari Riyals 150,000 of Stafford Sri Lanka School Doha funds belonging rightfully to its Qatari Sponsor Yusuf Fridoni and Founder Chairman Kumudu Fonseka and the Board of Trustees were changed.
With no proper mandate or checking with the rightful owners both Commercial Bank of Qatar and Doha Bank have now granted full control to Ambasssador Liyanage's three appointed signatories.
Strangely the current owner of the Stafford Sri Lankan School Doha and Qatari national Yusuf Fridoni, never cancelled or even transferred the ownership of the school or intimated to the bank that the signatories are to be changed.
Neither was there a board resolution passed to state that the signatories have been changed.
Ambassador A.S.P. Liyanage now holds full authority and control to wipe out the entire funds of both ban accounts.
Expatriate Sri Lankans speaking to Lanka News Web on condition of anonymity said “Ambassador Liyanage has made it a living hell for all of us who have lived peacefully here for so many years. He is a land sale businessman back in Sri Lanka and not a career diplomat and currently has multiple cases filed against him for alleged fraud committed mainly pertaining to land sales. He is a master at grabbing land belonging to others. However it is here in Qatar that Ambassador Liyanage has been granted the freedom to use his diplomatic powers and do as he pleases. This is all President Maithripala Sirisena’s fault. He has completely remained mute despite so many complaints being filed against Ambassador Liayange. He has threatened many Sri Lankans in Qatar if they share anything on social media regarding this issue. He has also got the Sri Lanka Embassy staff to call the companies we work for and even threaten them that he will have us deported back to Sri Lanka".
This current issue which has gained much bad publicity saw even the Deputy Minister Buddhika Pathirana berating Ambassador Liyanage for his actions in Qatar on state television. Other Ministers such as Harsha De Silva and Lakshman Kiriella have also brought this issue up in parliament.
Lanka News Web reliably understands that a group of parents who have now been threatened by Ambassador Liyanage have filed cases against the Ambassador with the relevant local government authorities in Sri Lanka.
This is as they feared of been harassed on their return to Doha after their vacation.
Meanwhile Ambassador Liyanage displayed his thuggish behaviour in Qatar when he himself appointed to look after his expatriate Sri Lankan work force, filed a case against his own countryman Chairman Kumudu Fonseka in 2017. This is after Chairman Fonseka replied a message he received from the Ambassador who had earlier taunted the Chairman by sending him a derogatory message pertaining to a newspaper article which was published in a local daily newspaper in Qatar. Many Sri Lankan expatriates in Qatar believe that that particular newspaper article was published by a local newspaper based on falsified information provided by the Ambassador Liyanage.
This ongoing saga of Ambassador Liyanage attempting to take control of the Stafford Sri Lankan School Doha dates back to last year.
However what the Ambassador did was muscle his way recently to obtain Qatari governmental support by using his diplomatic powers to first silence Chairman Fonseka.
The local government law enforcement authorities summoned Chairman Fonseka based on a request that was made by Ambassador Liyanage. After forging documents to claim ownership of the school, Ambassador Liyanage officially used his embassy powers to inform many government institutions in Qatar that the ownership of the school has changed. He stated that he was in control from now on and had in fact had changed Chairman Fonseka and nominated Roshan Balasooriya as his replacement. He then sought the support of the police to summon Chairman Fonseka and request a letter from him that he will not have anything to do with the school anymore.
“Give us a letter in writing, if not we have been requested to deport you" Chairman Fonseka was told. He was also threatened of being thrown in jail too.
Chairman Fonseka then submitted the requested letter as he himself is an expatriate worker in Qatar for the past 29 years and also holds a very responsible job.
Using the Qatari Police in a similar manner, Ambassador Liyanage then sought to gain physical control of the school. He arrived with his entourage of Sri Lanka Embassy officials accompanied by the Police on the 6th of July 2018 and created a ruckus in front of the school. With the Police in attendance he demanded the keys to the school from Chairman Fonseka who had arrived by then accompanied by the owner and school’s local Sponsor Yusuf Fridoni.
Sponsor Yusuf Fridoni not wanting the issue to escalate further due to the bad publicity being created outside the school premise, instructed Chairman Fonseka to hand over the keys to the main gate and to the reception areas.
They then all dispersed.
Shortly thereafter Ambassador Liyanage instructed the name board of the school be changed and then broke open one of the safes holding monies and documents belonging to the school.
The school has been guarded by security personnel appointed to do so by Ambassador Liyanage since then.
Lanka News Web reliably learns that Ambassador A.S.P. Liyanage has now changed the ownership to his name. He has also made public statements that even if he goes back to Sri Lanka he can still control the day to day running of the school on his own terms and conditions. Letters to both banks sate that the Sri Lanka Embassy only ‘supervises’ the Stafford Sri Lankan School Doha. Even if monies are withdrawn under his instructions he won’t be held accountable as his appointed people will make the withdrawals on his behalf.
"This is the perfect masterminded swindle ever done by a diplomat in Qatar" said a parent.
Exasperated parents who are uncertain about their children’s educational future speaking to Lanka News Web said " we hope that through this medium we could inform both the Commercial Bank of Qatar and the Doha Bank to freeze the accounts belonging to the Stafford Sri Lankan School Doha. This is as we have now lobbied with the government of Sri Lanka and have followed protocol in seeking Sri Lankan governmental support in having the school returned to its rightful owners."
Sri Lankan expatriates are barred from filing a case against their Ambassador A.S.P. Liyanage or Embassy officials in Qatar as they are protected by diplomatic immunity.