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Al Aman responds to ‘Tall Tale’ claims

Confusion and chaos ensue:

During a two-plus hour press conference at the company’s headquarters yesterday, the directors of the Al Aman World Capital Centre Ltd. were questioned by journalists over the integrity of the company’s debut project, a proposed super skyscraper in the heart of Colombo.

Pressed by journalists about the simple claim Al Aman World Capital Centre has made repeatedly, that the company holds an “international” portfolio, the directors admitted that not a single brick has been laid, or a single project started, outside of (or even inside) Sri Lanka.

The stage was set, with multiple rows of chairs lined up around the lobby of 60 Davidson Road in Colombo 4 and refreshments being served. Seated front and center before a crowded room were the directors of the Al Aman World Capital Centre (WCC), a proposed super skyscraper in the heart of Colombo said to be on track for completion by 2023. The conference was presided over by Dr.Arosha Fernando, Dr. Senaka De Silva, and Vivek Anandarajah, all company directors, and Ms. Rosheile Nonis and S.P.Srikantha, introduced as the company’s lawyer.

A press conference, the first in WCC’s history according to the host, had been called by the company’s directors to clarify the media’s “misconceptions” about the project, Deputy Chairman and WCC Spokesman Dr. Senaka De Silva said, speaking in Sinhalese.

But the clarifications never came. Instead, the scene that played out over the next two hours was one of chaos and confusion.

After a brief series of introductory videos and introductory speeches by both Senior Deputy Chairman Vivek Anandarajah and Deputy Chairman Senaka De Silva, the floor was opened to questions from the audience. The back and forth began calmly.

The Daily News first asked how much capital had been raised so far for the project; US $200 million by 31 December 2017 is required for the Board of Investment’s (BOI) agreement with the WCC, and the project is estimated by WCC to cost a total of US $2.4 Billion.

All $2.4 Billion is arranged with a money funding company already,” said Anandarajah. When the Daily News pressed for more details, asking for the identity of the money funding company. Anandarajah declined to answer. “This information I don’t feel comfortable to disclose because this is our confidential information. This is a business enterprise.”

Next, the Daily News questioned the “international portfolio” that Al Aman World Capital Center has boasted of repeatedly, including in its media brief handed out at the press conference, which includes the following description of the company:

“...A globally renowned company with an international network reckoned with its operations in UK, UAE, Malaysia and all over the world...” Noting that Al Aman Group’s website, which similarly labeled itself an international operation, had been taken down, the Daily News asked for the directors to explain what their company has done internationally.

The directors could not provide a single example of a company, property, or project elsewhere, instead claiming broadly that “without international connection we can’t come and we can’t do this stuff.” Then, they tried to deflect, saying, “I

think we are discussing the project to be built in Colombo. I’m here to talk about WCC Sri Lanka.”

Another source of contention arose from the question of who, in fact, would be running the World Capital Centre. On Al Aman Groups’ website, since taken down, the board members listed are Asaid Ahmed, Lakshman Benedict Perera, Imran Saleem,

Mohamed Ashraff, Wijendran Balakrishnan, and Constantino Zevallos Bujaico — none of whom were in attendance at the press conference.

When asked about the relationship between that board to the directors present at the conference, no clear answer was provided; at times, the directors present seemed to suggest both that they had never met anyone from Al Aman Groups, the supposed parent company of the Al Aman World Capital Centre Ltd., and that they were operating completely independent of Al Aman Groups. This was all while insisting that they were in fact a subsidiary of Al Aman Groups. Not even the lawyer present, Mr. S.P. Srikantha, could answer the question of the relationship between Al Aman Groups and Al Aman World Capital Ltd.

“I don’t know. I am only representing the local company,” said Srikantha.

The list goes on. When asked about the tentative location of the project, the directors provided no answers. When asked about the conflicting claims that the WCC would have a seven- and ten-star-hotel, despite the fact that such certification is near impossible to attain, the directors provided no solution. When asked about the disparity in the projected cost of the project — US $1.2 Billion, US $2 Billion, or US $2.4 Billion — the directors provided no clarification. When asked about what the guarantees to investors were, the directors said “none.”

The press conference was called to clarify misconceptions about the project, but it seems that at its end, confusion only further abounded.