09/21/2019, 09.00
SRI LANKA
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Sirisena: Lotus Tower money gone to China

The Lotus Tower is the tallest self-standing structure in South Asia, part of China’s New Silk Road strategy. A Chinese company is accused of absconding with US million.

Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Sri Lankan parliamentary panel will investigate corruption allegations against a Chinese company contracted to build South Asia's tallest tower. The company is accused of misappropriating US$ 11 million.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena made the accusation during the building’s inauguration ceremony. The Lotus Tower is the tallest self-supported structure in all of South Asia.

The charges have sparked a broad debate in Sri Lanka because China is one of the island nation’s close ally and the building is part of China’s New Silk Road.

The 356-metre, 17-storey Lotus Tower, which overlooks Beira Lake in the heart of the Sri Lankan capital, includes restaurants, an auditorium, a television tower, a telecommunications museum, a shopping mall and a conference room. It cost in total more than 100 million dollars, 80 per cent financed by China.

On Monday, during the grand opening ceremony, Sirisena said that in 2012, under his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, the state Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) deposited two billion rupees (US.09 million) with the Aerospace Long-March International Trade Co (ALIT), a Chinese company that disappeared in 2016.

“This is the money we could have spent for development of this country, for education, and medicines of patients,” Mr Sirisena said in his speech.

For his part, Rajapaksa said: "To say that a major Chinese government-owned conglomerate had disappeared with 2 billion rupees belonging to the Sri Lankan government is a horrendous insult to China."

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