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Viral posts on cyberspace stated that Minister Kanchana Wijesekera would marry the daughter of the McLaren Group’s owner, and because of this arrangement, the McLarens Group had been chosen as the local representative of Chinese oil company Sinopec, one of the three companies which were selected for fuel sale and distribution in Sri Lanka.
As this is a topic of national interest, and due to the number of queries, we decided to find out the facts behind this claim.
Social Media and Web Reports
Some website articles and social media posts reported that the Minister of Power and Energy in Sri Lanka would be wedded soon, and his bride would be Shehara De Silva, McLarens group’s managing director. These reports tried to imply that the SINOPEC Chinese oil company, which has been allowed to sell and distribute Petroleum Sri Lanka, selected McLarens Group as their third-party distribution partner in Sri Lanka due to this arrangement with Minister Kanchana.
Such web reports can be reached here.
A related social media post can be read below.
Users commented on it like below.
In response to viral claims of a third-party involvement with Sinopec for fuel sales and distribution operations in Sri Lanka, Sinopec Fuel Oil Lanka Ltd. (PV00216535), located in Hambantota and which is the local unit/branch of China’s Sinopec Conglomerate, state that the reports of Sinopec company using other external agencies for its operations in Sri Lanka are entirely false.
The official announcement also stated that no agency nor a third party had been contracted to handle any part of Sinopec’s fuel station operations or any related business. The announcement further noted that Sinopec Fuel Oil Lanka Company does not intend to transfer its fuel station service license rights to any other party and is ready to take legal action to protect its brand’s reputation, as seen below.
Sinopec (China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation) is a Chinese oil and gas company based in Beijing. It is one of the largest energy and chemical companies not only in China but globally as well. Also, the Sinopec company conducts fuel sales in several foreign countries and usually does not use third-party agents for fuel distribution.
Also, we asked the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the McLarens Group regarding the claims that they had signed any contract or were planning to act as the local representative of Sinopec in the future.
Rejecting these claims, McLarens CEO stated that neither McLaren Group nor its subsidiaries are agents for Sinopec fuel sales operations and that they were never awarded any concessions for fuel shed operations either.
Confirming these facts, the CEO forwarded a letter signed by one of its directors, as seen below.
Also, the CEO of McLarens Group confirmed that the rumour that Minister Kanchana Wijesekera will marry Ms Shehara De Silva, the current group managing director of McLarens, is also false.
Minister Kanchana Wijesekera
We asked the Minister of Power and Energy, Mr Kanchana Wijesekera, about these claims, and the minister also said that Sinopec Fuel Oil Lanka Company is acting as the representative of Sinopec Company in Sri Lanka.
The minister further stated that those institutions’ selection procedures were carried out transparently, that the McLarens Group was never involved in any of this, and that the information claiming that he would marry the daughter of McLarens MD was also false.
We also noticed that in a Tweet, Minister Kanchana had also shared the above clarification of Sinopec Fuel Oil Lanka Ltd, and he also requested the Speaker to take legal action regarding the false news being shared and thanked the media & social media organizations that removed & corrected the false statements from their web sites & media platforms.
What is the reason for spreading such a rumour?
During a recent parliamentary debate related to the removal of the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission(PUCSL), the Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera, stated that the Ceylon Electricity Board(CEB) was buying electricity from a company owned by the Chairman and that the Chairman had concealed this fact at the time of his appointment to PUCSL which is the regulatory body of CEB and it`s not ethical.
Commenting on this statement, Mr Chaminda Wijesiri, the Badulla District Councilor of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), states that if Minister Kanchana gets engaged to the daughter of the owner of McLarens, who would be the local representative of Sinopec, then there would also be a case of conflict of interest for the minister.
But SJB MP also mentioned that it is only an assumption and that he does not think Minister Kanchana would do this activity, and a system should be adopted to prevent such actions from happening also. The video from the debate can be seen below.
However, based on this statement, many social media posts and web media reports were created with a false narrative.
Sinopec Group and Agency Selection Procedure
On the 25th of May, addressing the parliament about the selection procedure for Sinopec and the other three contract awardees for fuel sales and distribution in Sri Lanka, Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that these three international companies were China’s Sinopec Company, RM Parks Shell Company, established in America, and United Petroleum Company operating in Australia and New Zealand.
This selection was not made by the government’s or the minister’s sole opinion. The cabinet paper was submitted for the expression of interest in June 2022, a newspaper notice was published, and a technical committee was appointed. The cabinet set up a procurement committee to study the bids received from 26 companies over several months, and among them, 12 companies were shortlisted by the technical expert committee.
The minister stated that the committee consisted of government officials from several institutions, such as the Ministry of Electricity, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank, Board of Investment, and Petroleum Corporation, and a secondary study was conducted on these 12 companies. And finally, only three qualified companies were selected from the 12 shortlisted companies. And Sinopec is one of them.
The first agreement was signed between the Sri Lanka government and Sinopec-China company recently in Colombo from the selected three companies. The President’s Media Unit’s announcement on this occasion is here.
Sinopec Fuel Company of China has an agreement with its own subsidiary, Sinopec Fuel Oil Singapore Private Limited, located in Singapore, and its local unit is Sinopec Oil Lanka Pvt Ltd, situated in Mirijjawila, Hambantota. Sinopec Oil Lanka Pvt Ltd will represent Sinopec in Sri Lanka.
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McLarens has no connection with Sinopec for oil distribution in Sri Lanka. The local representative of Sinopec Company in Sri Lanka is Sinopec Oil Lanka Private Limited, located in Hambantota.
Also, Sinopec Oil Lanka has confirmed in an official announcement that no other party will be used for the fuel sales of Sinopec Company in Sri Lanka.
McLarens has also denied the claim of a contract with Sinopec and a marriage between their Group Managing Director, Shehara de Silva, and Minister Kanchana.
Title:McLarens Is Not the Local Representative of Sinopec Operations in Sri Lanka!Written By: Kalana Krishantha