A group of influential people had stormed Serene Pavilions at Wadduwa near Panadura on Wednesday morning and forcibly tried to take over the luxury boutique hotel, eyewitnesses said.
This had happened when director-shareholders, Sumith Guruge and Jit Warnakulasuriya had arrived at the hotel at about 11 a.m. with a 50-strong entourage which included powerful businessman and controversial share market investor, Dilith Jayaweera and locked the gates to the premises.
Most were senior management at Citrus Leisure Group, controlled by Mr. Jayaweera, they said. Citrus Leisure Director Marketing, Mani Sugathapala, Director/CEO, Chandana Talwatte, Director Operations, Hemantha Ratnayake, Varuni Fernando, Director Citrus Leisure had been present amongst others.
“They closed the gates and gathered all staff at the hotel into Deputy Chairman and CEO, Anura Lokuhetty’s office room and locked that door. They said that they’re going to take over the hotel,” an informed source told the Business Times.
When the staff had wanted documentary proof, they had nothing to show, he said. Mr. Lokuhetty had then come to the hotel, called 119 and had summoned the police. “While the police recorded statements, this group was unruly. The police requested them to vacate the premises and requested Dilith and Sumith to give statements. They said they’ll go to the Panadura Superintendent of Police’s office on the same day and give statements,” the source said. This is an internal dispute between some directors which had blown out of proportion when Mr. Jayaweera had exercised influence and tried to forcibly own the hotel after intimidating the majority owner, Mr. Lokuhetty, he said.
Land of this hotel was bought by Southwest Holdings in which Mr. Lokuhetty who was the CEO of Confifi Group, CEO of Hotels Corporation and COO of Galle Face Hotel Management Company is the 77.5 per cent shareholder.