A Sri Lankan policeman wanted in connection with the assassination of a prominent Sri Lankan politician and human rights lawyer is suspected of hiding out in Australia and running an eco-consultancy business, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today.
The eco-consultancy is owned by a businesswoman who says she is a friend of former United States President Bill Clinton.
Sri Lankan police have confirmed asking Australian police for assistance in tracking down Fabian Royston Toussaint who is wanted in Sri Lanka in connection with the 2006 shooting death of Tamil politician and human rights lawyer Nadarajah Raviraj, according to the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Australian Securities and Investment Commission records this month listed Mr Toussaint as being a director of Eco Support Consulting, a private company owned by a Malaysian-born businesswoman Malini Ventura which was established in May 2014, and registered in Victoria.
Ms Ventura, who has since changed her last name to Saba, has been involved in promoting charity dinners with Mr Clinton in Sydney and Brisbane that were mysteriously cancelled in 2010 leaving ticket buyers out of pocket.
Fairfax does not suggest Ms Saba is in any way connected to the political assassination or any of the allegations involving Toussaint.
Ms Saba last week confirmed that she had employed Mr Toussaint in the eco-consulting business but had fired him in January after becoming aware of the allegations levelled against him. She also confirmed that Mr Toussaint had come to Australia “as a tourist” but said she did not know his whereabouts. “That guy has been fired since January and I don’t keep in touch with that person. I wouldn’t know where to look for him. I had my team fire him. “ She said the company was no longer operating. Last week Sri Lankan Police Homicide Inspector Anuruddha Polwatha confirmed there was a warrant out for the arrest of Mr Toussaint in connection with the slaying of Raviraj. Mr Raviraj, who was also a human rights lawyer was gunned down in the street by two men on a motorbike, a day after he led a protest demonstration over a Sri Lankan army bombing that killed civilians in 2006.
Inspector Polwatha said Sri Lankan police had contacted Australian police more than two months ago after receiving a tip-off that Mr Toussaint was living in Australia but were yet to receive any information. He was surprised to learn of Mr Toussaint’s alleged involvement in the eco-consultancy.
“He’s (Toussaint) a cop. He is not expert in such matters” said Inspector Polwatha speaking by phone from Colombo.
“Can you please send us the details of that company?”.
Inspector Polwatha said police suspected Mr Toussaint may have been seeking asylum in Australia as he was reported to have left Sri Lanka four or five years earlier.
He said Mr Toussaint had been named in court as being a wanted suspect in the killing.
Efforts to contact Mr Toussaint were unsuccessful.
The registered address for the $500 Eco Support Consulting company is listed as being at Swaab lawyers in Hunter St , Sydney. On Monday Swaab partner Terry Sperber said he could confirm that the firm had acted for a Ms Ventura in the past.
But he said: “We haven’t done so for quite some time.”
He said he had no information about the whereabouts of Mr Toussaint or a Ms Ventura.
Ms Saba has courted controversy in the past after being involved in business ventures which investors allege left them out of pocket – claims she vigorously denies.
She also says she is a friend of former Mr Clinton and donated between $500,000 and $1 million to the Clinton Foundation in the United States.
In September Ms Saba featured in local newspapers in Queensland after she was briefly appointed to head a chamber of commerce in Ipswich west of Brisbane this time using the name Malini Saba, but then left after just six weeks.
In 2010 she made headlines when using the name “Malini Alles-Ventura”, she promoted the charity dinners with Mr Clinton organised through a private company Redbrick Development Pty Ltd.
The Australian Financial Review reported the proposed dinners as taking place as part of the Asia Pacific Global Issues forum raising awareness and money for disadvantaged women and children. The paper reported Ms Alles-Ventura was a personal friend of Mr Clinton.
Prominent business people in Brisbane and Sydney bought tickets which were priced in some cases up to $15,000 to attend the events that included a special round table personal dinner with the ex-president to raise money for charity.
One ticket buyer prominent Brisbane businessman John MacTaggart confirmed his organisation Brisbane Angels which represents private investors looking for new technology ventures paid $5000 for tickets to the proposed Clinton dinner in Brisbane in 2010.
“It just started to become obvious things weren’t right. She disappeared.”
Mr MacTaggart said Brisbane Angels had been successful in getting a judgement against Red Brick Development but had not received any refund.
“Our legal advice was that that’s about as good as you are going to get. It wasn’t much, about five grand and we weren’t going to spend any more,” he said.
Ms Saba has denied any impropriety in business dealings and said the dinners did not go ahead because Mr Clinton had cancelled.
She denied the ticket sale was a scam and said her “attorneys were still handling” issues with the money being refunded.
When asked who the lawyers were she declined to provide their name.
She said any claims that she had caused individuals to lose money were “all false”.
She said one business in Queensland that was the subject of complaints about losses had been organised by a former partner.
“That’s got nothing to do with me,” she said.
A spokesman for the Australian Federal Police refused to comment on whether officers were assisting Sri Lankan authorities in the hunt for Toussaint.
He said the AFP “did not confirm who it may or may not be investigating nor does it discuss requests for assistance from overseas law enforcement agencies”.
The Immigration Department declined to comment on the grounds it does not make statements on individuals’ immigration status or investigations.