Sunday, January 26, 2014

The attack on Foreign Investors in Sri Lanka the latest victim – Holcim

It is time that foreign investors realize the Sri Lankan psyche and be wary before deciding to do business with anyone. The unreliability and even worse the sick mentality of many in the business world who have ambitions beyond their station is what makes doing business so tricky. Who can you trust?

I have reported earlier how the convicted felon, Manilal Fernando would go to any lengths to try and clear his name after the bribery scandal, where he was exposed as a liar, a thief and a braggard, and would still stoop not to respect international independent findings of his guilt. He continues to deny the undeniable! It was ironic that the FA is based in Switzerland, upon whose rules and ethics this worm of an individual was convicted. So for him to remain the Chairman of Holcim subsidiary (a parent of a Swiss company) in Sri Lanka was an embarrassment to the Organization and got rid of him from that position. He was made Chairman earlier as he assisted in legal terms to help the company establish itself in Sri Lanka and received this sinecure as a reward, that he abused, when he went he went above his station.

It was then that the true extent of his duplicity was exposed, and to hide his guilt, he is behind the leaks to expose alleged wrongdoings on the part of Holcim, which is hurting its image in Sri Lanka and there is some talk of them exiting.

All subsidiaries of International Companies owe a primary responsibility to the parent and only a subsidiary responsibility to the host country. They are ALL engaged in practices that sometimes run counter to the intentions of the host country. This may be in transfers of funds around the group, transfer pricing and purchasing in a way that is done for the group benefit and not the country. Any mature person knows that and the recent scandal where it was discovered that some very prestigious companies did NOT pay taxes in the UK despite billions of turnover reflected the reality of what I noted above.

Countries for national reasons of employment and investment are willing to overlook a few contraventions of promises made, as the down side cost of the company leaving, is worse than the upside of it remaining.

For a scumbag like Manilal to expose a few of these inconsistent transactions, which he was privy to while he was chairman is downright disingenuous. He should have exposed them when he was chairman, so then when he was fired he would have real case against the company. After being fired, it is SOUR GRAPES.

He had better watch out as the dirt is about to be thrown back at him, during his watch. He was fired because of these and NOT made public and now it is about to haunt him big time. A crook is a crook is a crook, no matter if you are a chairman of a prestigious company, a senior politician, a respected lawyer or a underworld thug. In essence there is very little that distinguishes these types from one another.

Being paid a multi million rupee salary and perks did not appear to be enough to stop him from defrauding the company he worked for! So what gives with these people. They live in their belief of their self importance to hide their impotence.

Giving away millions of rupees worth of free bags of cement to friends, political upstarts, temples and other organizations without proper accountability and discussion of CSR is in itself, breaking any rules of a company. He is now using those political connections, and friends he made at the expense of the Company’s bottom line, and not his, and who he is now calling on to do the dirty work for him, by leaking the allegations, and putting the company on the spotlight.

I cannot predict the end of it at this point, and am watching this space to see how Holcim tackles the threat. He has taken advantage of an inexperienced CEO, an incapable current Chairman who has failed to identify the gravity of this threat and a new recruit PR spokesman to handle the fallout out.

It would do well for Holcim to recruit a dynamic person to handle the issue, and expose the duplicity of the whole sordid allegations, and ensure that they ricochet on the real culprit to a degree, that will prevent villains from blackmailing companies. Otherwise there will be NO foreign investor worth his salt who would wish to invest in Sri Lanka.
You can be assured that Packer will be watching the story with a keen eye to understand Sri Lankan revenge tactics. He is also open to be fleeced by Sri Lankan business partners, and will have a rethink of his investment, when he realizes that NO ONE can be trusted here, as all is NOT what it seems in this fair ISLE!!!!

To Conclude, it must be remembered that Integrity is important in longer term survival of businesses and if they can be toppled by fraudsters, then it is the Govt. responsibility to clean up its act and stop corruption first, as all these tin pot wanna bees take a cue from the top saying – if it is good for them, then it is good for mee!

SRI LANKA GOVT - the cement importers are looking at ways to cash in on this, please don't allow them to make hay at the expense of a local producer, if you really care about your country. 


  1. All the globals have connected locals as Chairman, look at CTC for example with Ratnayake the Chair of JKH as its as well! then others such as Nestle, and Chevron. this is to keep the local presence in case such a crisis erupts.

    Anchor had a problem as they did not have a Local connected person as the head, paying a heavy price as a result to clear its name

    It seems fair game to attack the foreign companies. So don't expect much foreign investment. In the end it is the Govt of SL that is to blame for this state of affairs as they are adding the fuel, and this is at the expense of jobs for locals in Sri Lanka!! Very sad

  2. Packer your day will come! you are dealing with cowboys after all!