Controversial ex-Governor of the Central Bank, Arjuna Mahendran has made a comeback to hold a new high profile position under the Yahapalanaya Government with the blessings of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Mahendran, who had to make an undignified exit as the country’s 13th Governor of Central Bank due to his alleged involvement in a Treasury Bond scandal, has been appointed by Wickremesinghe as the ‘Head of the Sri Lanka Five Year Development Plan’ and is currently part of Wickremesinghe’s official delegation to Singapore.
Mahendran, a citizen of Singapore, is under investigation by the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) over his alleged involvement in the bond scandal which resulted in the country losing a staggering Rs. 1.6 billion.
However, shunning public perception, Wickremesinghe has brought back Mahendran into the Government folds, even before he has been cleared from corruption charges.
Earlier, Wickremesinghe denied allegations that he was protecting Mahendran, and added that he was yet to be proven guilty. Despite, the Auditor General implicating Mahendran in his 1200 page report, clandestine moves are underway by the UNP to jeopardize the independence of the COPE, in an effort to clear Mahendran from any wrong doing with regard to the bond scandal.
Following orders from the UNP leadership, UNP Parliamentarian M. Velu Kumar who was a member of COPE tendered his resignation early this month, to make way for Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe to take Velu Kumar’s seat in the Parliamentary Committee. Soon after the Auditor General handed over his report, several UNP members in their attempt to defend Mahendran had insisted that the report be sent to an independent expert for their opinion on grounds that the Auditor General’s opinion alone cannot be accepted.
In June, the Auditor General complained to COPE that Mahendran, who was the Governor then had refused to provide information pertaining to the bond transactions. Subsequent to the complaint, COPE summoned Mahendran and ordered him to provide all details with regard to the transactions to the Auditor General. (By Munza Mushtaq @ Colombo Telegraph)