By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Cash starved Sri Lanka’s claim of US $ 6.4 billion to be obtained from the ship insurer for the X-Press Pearl maritime disaster has opened a can of worms amidst allegations of taking $250 million bribe to delay the filing of a case and attempts by some high officials in relevant state institutions.
Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, said the Attorney General’s (AG) Department, on behalf of the Government, filed a lawsuit in Singapore for Xpress Pearl compensation.
“The AG’s Department had consulted three top legal firms before filing the case in Singapore. One of the expert firms from Australia advised the AG’s Department to file the case in Singapore, and based on their advice, the case was filed there,” the Minister said.
He noted that the AG had hired a legal expert from the UK to remove the limitation of liability in the Xpress Pearl compensation case filed in Singapore.
Claiming that not only legal factors were instrumental in filing the case in Singapore, NPP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that filing the case by the insurer of the X-Press Pearl in the UK to limit the compensation and filing the case by Sri Lanka in Singapore to claim compensation were inter-connected.
He told Parliament that the insurer of the X-Press Pearl has filed a case in a court in the UK to limit the compensation to US$ 26 million and that the Attorney General’s Department in Sri Lanka has not made any intervention in the case for the last one and half years.
He raised doubts over the AG’s Department’s actions and questioned in parliament as to why the AG’s Department has failed to make any intervention even though the case was very important in Sri Lanka’s attempt to claim compensation.
Dissanayake said the case filed by the insurer in the UK court is more important than the case filed by Sri Lanka in Singapore to claim compensation.
He said Singapore and the UK have signed a convention over limiting the compensation in shipping disasters and that filing the compensation case in Singapore by the Attorney General was questionable.
“Even though the insurer obtained a verdict limiting the compensation in the UK court, it is essential for them to get the compensation case filed in Singapore court to get the benefit of the verdict.
So, filing the case in Singapore by the Attorney General and the case in the UK limiting compensation are interconnected. There has been a questionable transaction between the two incidents,” he told parliament.