Anonymous is a group of hacktivists operating in a number of countries around the world. As the name suggests, the identities of the members of this group are anonymous, and they are famous for carrying out various cyber-attacks against governments, government agencies, as well as prominent individuals and organizations, which face allegations of corruption.
Ever since the start of the current wave of protests in Sri Lanka, #Anonymous has been a trending keyword, with many requesting their help to leak the details of corrupt politicians in the country. As a result, few government websites were hacked recently, and Anonymous groups claimed responsibility. In this backdrop, posts went viral on social media, claiming that the Anonymous group had revealed the hidden assets of the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Rajapaksa family.
Social Media Posts
Below is the text of the viral posts in which a number of local as well as foreign companies and prominent individuals accused of having deals with members of the Rajapaksa family, giving them shares and investing their black money.
“DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANY TRUTH IN THIS?
R-S Papers By A – Category 1 / Investments made by the Rajapaksa family in the country
* No. Property at 276/4, Negombo Road, Wattala – This property was purchased by Rohitha Rajapaksa.
* Butter Boutique Super Restaurant – A luxury restaurant in Colombo. Yoshitha Rajapaksa is the hidden owner here.
* Perera & Sons (PnS) – A nationwide restaurant chain. Namal Rajapaksa has invested Rs. 500 million.
* Richie Tea – A tea manufacturing business. This is a Rs. 35 million business venture started by Chamal Rajapaksa.
* Melva Cement – Basil Rajapaksa owns 60% of the ownership.
* Pyramid Wilmar Company – One of the largest operating companies in Sri Lanka. It is a business run by investing the Rajapaksa family money.
* Temple Group – A Sri Lankan operating company with an annual turnover of Rs. 21 billion. The annual income of Swiss banks is deposited here by Dudley Sirisena, who owns the Rajapaksa family.
* Ministry of Crab – A worldwide chain of Sri Lankan super restaurants. With former players Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, Namal Rajapaksa owns 40%.
* Kolamba – A restaurant. Yoshitha Rajapaksa owns 70% of the shares.
* Busy Bean Cafe – Another restaurant where the Rajapaksa family invested their money.
* Rythm and Blues (RNB) – V.I.P is one of the best nightclubs in Sri Lanka exclusively for guests. Rohitha Rajapaksa has invested Rs. 200 million and issued liquor licenses.
* Camera.lk – An investment made by the Rajapaksa family through Wimal Weerawansa. Currently, there is a camera shop spread all over Sri Lanka.
* Helakuru & Hela Pay – One of the leading IT businesses in Sri Lanka. Through a man named Dhanika Perera, Rohitha Rajapaksa has invested Rs. 80 million to start this business.
* MAS Holdings (18% stake) – Sri Lanka’s leading exporter. Mahinda Rajapaksa owns 18% of the business. That is the value of the land given to start new garment factories.
* Lands are being purchased all over the country under the names of cricket players Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena. The real owner is Namal Rajapaksa.
* Namal Rajapaksa Maharaja has bought 18% stake in the Maharaja Group through a man named Chevan Daniel. Its value is 760 million rupees.
* Roar Media Network – Namal Rajapaksa has bought the Roar Media Network in Bangladesh through a woman named Royal Raymond.
* Siyatha Media Network – Yoshitha Rajapaksa has invested in 3% of the Siyatha Media Network owned by Arjun Aloysius.
R-S Papers By A – Volume II / Investments made by the Rajapaksa family abroad
* Cafe Ceylon – Uganda – worth $ 1 million.
* Two of Uganda Airlines’ six aircraft – owned by the Rajapaksa family with an investment of $ 800 million.
* Shares of the New Castle football team in England – The Rajapaksa family’s investment of $ 420 million with the Saudi princes.
* Seychelles La Diego Island – Rohitha Rajapaksa has bought his wife. The value is $ 60 million.
* South Indian superstar Vijay’s Sarkar, Master, Bigil film production – done by Rohitha Rajapaksa through Indian companies. The value is $ 220 million.
* Naughty America Pornographic Film Company – Rohitha Rajapaksa has invested $ 20 million.
* Mirihi Island Resort – Maldives, valued at $ 20 million.
* Maradhoo Island – Maldives, valued at $ 26 million. Udayanga Weeratunga of the Rajapaksa family owns the rights.
* Diageo – A company in the UK. The value is $ 120 billion.
* Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman painting – stored in a foreign vault. The value is $ 100 million.
* A sapphire mine in the Ilakaka area of Madagascar is being run by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa with an investment of $ 3 million.
* Xinjiang Diamond Mine in Tanzania – owned by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, valued at $ 7 million.
* The Panama-flagged Grace of Queen – valued at $ 30 million.
* Seven luxury boats – operated by the Rajapaksa family on holiday in Bali, Maldives and other countries. The value is $ 850 million.
* Baidu Company of China – Yoshitha Rajapaksa holds shares. The value is $ 7 billion.
* Dubai Marriott Hotel – $ 7 billion worth
* Three luxury homes at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – an investment by the Rajapaksa family through a man named Nandana Lokuvithana. The value is $ 140 million.
* Shenyang Gotiar Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd – a Chinese operating company. The co-owner is Mahinda Rajapaksa, valued at $ 20 billion.
* Lyca Mobile – A telephone company in the UK. Operated through a Sri Lankan person of Tamil origin. The real owner is Mahinda Rajapaksa. The value is $ 40 billion.
* De La Rue PLC – The Rajapaksa family owns 13% of the company.
* Adani Group of Companies, India – A billionaire company in India. Namal Rajapaksa owns 20% of the shares.
* Gujarat Titans IPL team – $ 150 million. An investment made by Rohitha Rajapaksa.
* History Supreme Sailing Ship
* Burj Dubai Hotel – $ 1 billion
* 30% of the Dallas Cowboys team in the United States – a world-famous baseball team. Pushpa Rajapaksa owns $ 2 billion worth of shares.
* Shashindra Rajapaksa holds 11% stake in AgustaWestland Helicopter Company in the UK.
* Mahinda Rajapaksa has acquired a 29% stake in Thales, a UK-based military and secret equipment manufacturer, through Holokity. He is the second largest single shareholder. The first owner was the son of Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
* The unofficial owners of ARUP, the world’s largest contracting company, are members of the Rajapaksa family. All ill-gotten gains are used to legally transfer money through this company. It is worth about 2 302 million. Udayanga Weeratunga is the unofficial CEO of the company.
* 3 Thai shipping companies owned by Kumaran Pathmanathan (names not disclosed)
* Lands are being bought all over the country under the names of super cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. This was also revealed by Sangakkara when he bought lands in Sigiriya.
* Rohitha Rajapaksa owns Walk & Talk (PVT) Limited, a Rs. 200 million mobile phone importer.
* Shashindra Rajapaksa owns 38% of Dialog, the government’s most friendly telecommunications network. As soon as the present government came to power, they were given billions in tax concessions
* The Rajapaksa family has invested Rs. 12 billion in a road for a John Keells PLC group through a Chinese company. Hemas and Unilever also received Rs. About 10 billion has been invested
* Shashindra Rajapaksa also runs the prostitution business in Sri Lanka. His business manager here is Surendra Wasantha Perera (Club Wasantha). Chamal Rajapaksa is the real owner of his Sunhill hotel chain. Udayanga Weeratunga is supplying Ukrainian prostitutes for this. Udayanga Weeratunga also owns a network of prostitutes in Ukraine, Russia and the world-famous Utopia.
* Udayanga Weeratunga is also the owner of the luxury boat River Palace, a popular floating brothel in Ukraine. He bought it after the Mig deal and later went bankrupt.
* The world’s third largest La Belle brothel, Thailand – owner Udayanga Weeratunga, valued at $ 2 billion.
* Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Limited – Owned by Yoshitha Rajapaksa. There are $ 40 billion worth of shares.
* Dorcell Club Pornographic Film Company – Rohitha Rajapaksa has invested $ 5 million.
* Tushy Pornography – Rohitha Rajapaksa has invested $ 11 million.
* Namal Rajapaksa has invested $ 2 billion in Bollywood through Indian actor Salman Khan.
* Nipuna Ranawaka buys $ 70 million stake in US-based Internet giant Starlink.
* Namal Rajapaksa presents his wife with a $ 350 million diamond of hope as a wedding gift.
* The Rajapaksa family bought about 15% of the shares in Land Rover, Jeep, Aston Martin and Bugatti between 2005 and 2015.
* Anoma Rajapaksa has bought a 40% stake in Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Prada, Gucci, Burberry, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, SSENSE and Michael Cors.
* About $ 600 billion worth of bonds, gold biscuits and deposits have been made in Swiss Bank, Exim Bank, JP Morgan Chase, China Construction Bank, Bank of China and Barclays Bank accounts.
* Anonymous team reveals that a huge amount of money has been hidden in the crypto currency and it is a trillion dollars.
It is also conceivable that the Rajapaksa family-owned businesses and those who run them may have aided or abetted the Gulface struggle in order to predict their future fate.
According to these estimates, the wealth stolen by the Rajapaksas is about a trillion dollars. This amount is one trillion Sri Lankan Rupees. (1,050,000,000,000,000 LKR)
– The above data is responsible for all the data found by the team of anonymous hackers –
Facebook | Archived
Here is another post, which claimed that the Anonymous group had released a statement related to the corruption of the Rajapaksa family.
Facebook | Archived
These posts were viral among Facebook users as seen below.
These contents in Sinhala language were more viral on Facebook. You can read a Sinhala post here. Archived Below is how Facebook users circulated Sinhala posts.
Because of these viral posts, another subset of claims went viral directly targeting the said companies, pointing out that the above companies should be boycotted.
Facebook | Archived
We received several requests to verify the authenticity of the claims, as any clear documented evidence did not back up the claims. Hence, we decided to verify these claims and share with you the findings.
We contacted some of the institutions and individuals mentioned in the above viral claims.
First, we contacted the Butter Boutique Cafe. The management clarified that the owner and founder of this restaurant, Rukshi Nettikumara, had clarified that there was no involvement of Rajapaksa’s for her business. Rukshi Nettikumara had expressed her views in this regard in a Facebook post as seen below.
A search of Butter Boutique’s official social media accounts revealed that they had added posts and photos to in support of the ongoing struggles in the country.
Commenting on the above social media post, which had described CameraLK as an investment made by the Rajapaksa family through Wimal Weerawansa and is now a camera shop spread all over Sri Lanka, its owner / managing director Anushka Gunasinghe rejected the claims as fake and a funny.
“Our past audit reports confirm that the company has not received any outside investment since 2010,” he added.
Facebook | Archived
In addition, a FB post from a photographer Thilina Kaluthota, clarifies Anushka Gunasinghe provided the cameras to take photographs of the protests. The post can be found here .
Hela Kuru and Hela Pay
In addition, the viral post had pointed out that Rohitha Rajapaksa had invested Rs. 80 million to start this business through Dhanika Perera, a leading IT company in Sri Lanka.
We contacted Hela Kuru and Hela Pay founder Dhanika Perera to inquire about this and he stated that he had not even taken loan from any bank let alone an external investment for his business as of now. He also forwarded us a copy of the business registration document (FORM 1) to confirm that the business is registered here as a sole proprietorship.
Dhanika Perera also shared a post on his Facebook account rejecting the false allegations levelled against him and Helakuru Company.
Facebook | Archived
We inquired from Chevan Daniel regarding the viral claim, which stated, Namal Rajapaksa purchased an 18% stake in the Maharaja Group of Companies worth Rs. 760 million through Maharaja Group Director Chevan Daniel.
He also stated that this allegation was false and that no one with the right mindset could believe this document to be true.
Another allegation mentioned in the extensive viral post was that Namal Rajapaksa had bought the Roar media network in Bangladesh through Roar LK’s Editor-in-Chief Roel Raymond.
Commenting on this, she said that this is false. She also Tweeted about the same.
An official statement from the roar global media outlet clarified their stance on these claims as seen below.
Furthermore, Roar LK also expressed their support for the ongoing protests as seen here.
MAS Holdings, John Keells PLC, Hemas Holdings PLC, Jetwing Hotels
An increasingly common theme for most of the allegations named in the viral claims was that many of the individuals and companies mentioned had publicly expressed their support for the ongoing protests.
Facebook | Archived
Below is a post from John Keels Company
Facebook | Archived Link
Following are the posts by Hemas Holdings and Jetwin Hotels
Facebook | Archived Link Facebook | Archived Link
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited
Among international firms mentioned in the viral posts, TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) was one of the many business entities. It was stated that Yoshitha Rajapaksa owns shares worth 40 billion US dollars of this foreign company. We inquired the same from TSMC and they confirmed that Yoshitha Rajapaksa did not own 40% of TSMC and that no Sri Lankan had owned any shares of TSMC.
We have also made inquiries from several other foreign companies regarding foreign investments of the Rajapaksa family as claimed and we hope to update this article with their responses.
How the viral posts originated?
We also examined the origins of these posts. We noticed that several websites that had previously published fake and misleading content and specially lists had shared this Anonymous related content initially on April 22nd evening. Below is one such website, which had initially published this news.
Even previously, this website reported false/misleading news giving reference to various famous personnel. Our previous fact checks revealing the facts about one such article can be found below.
FACT CHECK: Is the list of people arrested in connection with the abuse of a 15-year-old girl true? (Sinhala)
The above-mentioned website also released a fake name list of politicians and famous people related with the Pandora papers.
FACT CHECK: Is there a list of true names being exchanged for Sri Lankans mentioned as ‘names’ in the Pandora leaflets? (Sinhala)
Therefore, it is clear that a website, which has a history of publishing unverified content, was among the first who had published this particular content.
Opinion of some experts on social media posts
Commenting on these viral posts, Amitha Amarasinghe, former Chief Operating Officer of Ogilvy Digital, Co-Founder / CEO of Asia Pacific Digital Marketing Institute (APIDM), made the following comments. English translation of his post given below.
“ This is a misinformation tactic called news baits used in black hat political marketing.
This tactic is used to aggravate the allegations against them and to erode the credibility of the opposing party.
First of all, they release some blatant lies against themselves on social media.
After that, the blind followers of the opposition group take those lies as reality and wait for them to share.
And then let them prove that they are false from credible sources.
After all this was done in order, one day the opposition group actually made a legit accusation but said “Ah! That too is a blatant lie like before. ”
It is like filing a complaint with the police for “future security”
Facebook | Archived Link
Social media analyst Sanjana Haththotuwa also commented on this episode on a similar note. His tweet can be read below.
The Rajapaksa’s have assets that surpass the wealth of Elon Musk, the richest man in the world?
Towards the end of the long narration of the viral post it stated that the wealth of the Rajapaksa’s is estimated to be around one trillion US dollars, which is one trillion Sri Lankan rupees. (1,050,000,000,000,000 LKR).
That, compared with USD 1 trillion ($ 1000 billion), is the combined net worth of the top seven billionaires in the world, according to data released by Forbes magazine a few weeks ago on World Billionaires. The full report is here . If this is true, then the Rajapaksa’s should have more money than the value of these super billionaires, including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Waren Buffet etc. In addition, we noticed that the verified handles of Anonymous group had issued several warnings against Elon Musk, yet the same was not visible against the Rajapaksa’s on their verified Facebook or YouTube channel.
Also Read: FACT CHECK: Did Forbes Magazine Reveal the Assets of the Ten Richest Politicians in Sri Lanka? (Sinhala)
The Pandora papers revealed by the International Union of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) had revealed the hidden assets of Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan, who are linked to the Rajapaksa family. However, their names were not mentioned in social media posts. The ICIJ report is here .
The Origin of Anonymous Hackers
This group of hackers first emerged in 2003 through the 4chan website. This group has no leadership and their most commonly used tagline is “We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”, which can be seen in most of their videos.
As the name suggests, the identity of these members is not known, as a result, many have questioned whether the Twitter handles which post regularly related to Sri Lanka are actually a part of the main Anonymous hacktivist group, since some of the social media postings have been originated from accounts created within the past month or two.
However, this is an allowed practice among Anonymous hacktivists as they encourage others to make videos using their artworks as well. Here is a video on Anonymous group.
Since Project Chanology in 2008, the Anonymous Hacker group has been involved in a number of issues of international importance. The hackers have had operations in a number of countries such as the United States, Tunisia, Uganda, Russia etc. and other government agencies, companies, and individuals. Islamic State, child pornography sites, copyright protection agencies, Westborough Baptist Church, and organizations such as PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, and Sony have also been targeted by Anonymous in the past.
Because of this series of cyber-attacks, law enforcers have turned their attention to the activities of anonymous groups and some of the members of the group have been arrested in connection with cyber-attacks in several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, India and Turkey. Read more on this here and here .
Although their activities had somewhat diminished by 2018, the group has re-emerged in 2020 to support protests against the assassination of George Floyd in the United States and other causes. The Anonymous group is currently waging a “cyber war” against President Vladimir Putin in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Click here for the BBC report. A few more reports here , here , here and here .
The group has many social media accounts and has almost 15.5 million followers on its Twitter pages alone, according to international media reports.
Anonymous Activities in Sri Lanka 2022:
Many people in Sri Lanka have been demanding the exposure of the Rajapaksa regime’s frauds to Anonymous hacker groups on social media from the very beginning and we have seen many #tags like #AnonymousSaveSrilanka.
A video posted on The Ghost , a YouTube channel launched on April 7, stated that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be given two weeks to step down or face a series of cyber-attacks. The video can be viewed here .
Corresponding announcements related to this was shared by several other Twitter accounts, especially in Sri Lanka, and was later retweeted on a leading Anonymous Twitter account with over 8 million followers, as seen below.
As a result, online communities in Sri Lanka were curious as to whether the Anonymous group would make a significant revelation on April 21, yet they could not produce any proof with credible sources on the alleged irregularities.
An anonymous video , posted on April 23, states that Sri Lankan activities (#OpSriLanka) were started parallel to the Russian activities (#OpRussia). Subsequently there have been warnings of a series of attacks targeting government websites, and as mentioned number of anonymous Twitter accounts in the past few days had claimed the targeting of government websites ( slbfe , health ministry ) and the Sri Lanka Police website . Meanwhile, several media institutions in Sri Lanka were also given warnings.
However, through these anonymous accounts, we did not find any sources or evidence of information on alleged illicit assets or suspicious financial transactions related to corrupt politicians in Sri Lanka.
We also checked to see if any of the above Twitter handles, which have been posting regularly on #OpSriLanka had shared the details published by social media about assets of the Rajapaksa family. One of the Twitter accounts had published the information, but the posts were published two days after the information first went viral on April 22, hence cannot be termed as the originator.
In addition, most of the information published on the official (verified) Facebook page of Anonymous these days is about Russia (#OpRussia) and so far, no statement has been made regarding the assets of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka. The official Facebook page is here . Anonymous official YouTube channel here .
Comments by a Cyber Security Expert:
We asked cyber security expert Asela Vaidyalankara about anonymous activities in Sri Lanka. He said there were indications that the anonymous hacker movement had turned their attention to Sri Lanka because of numerous demands from the Sri Lanka online community to expose the corrupt politicians in Sri Lanka.
Asela said Anonymous hacktivists had hacked several websites and that it was their modus operandi to sabotage the system and pressurize the government. He also added that, as these anonymous hackers may include several cybercriminals, the attacks on government websites containing public data and the disclosure of information are more likely to expose the confidential data of the public to the third parties, as compared to revealing the data requested by the Sri Lankan community.
Asela points out that he does not believe anonymous hackers will reveal the black money of Sri Lankan politicians, and in the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war as well, the Anonymous group has so far not been able to expose Russian billionaires and their secret assets.
Below is a video of cyber security expert Asela Vaidyalankara commenting on topics related to Anonymous operation in Sri Lanka
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Title:Explainer on Claims of Anonymous Hackers Releasing Rajapaksa’s’ Hidden Assets to the Dark Web!
By: Kalana Krishantha