"J.Packer was involved in local politics" - PM

Tuesday, 24 February 2015 - 13:00

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has defended the government’s decision to withdraw licence approval and millions of dollars in tax breaks for James Packer’s now-scrapped 450 million dollar Colombo Crown ­casino project, saying there was “nothing in it” for the country.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, who began his third term in office last month after former president ­Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the election, also hinted that Packer’s cancelled casino licence was the subject of political favour.

President Maithripala Sirisena, promised to scrap three controversial casino ­licences, including Packer’s Lake Leisure joint venture, during the election campaign in which it highlighted widespread corruption and crony capitalism within the former regime.

Prime Minister said Packer decided to go ahead despite wide opposition because he felt his friendship with the Rajapaksa regime was sufficient and the Rajapaksa regime would be there forever.