19 December, 2017

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Bond Scam: Will Mandate Of PCoI Be Allowed To Lapse Without Key Witnesses?

By Amrit Muttukumaru

Amrit Muttukumaru

Will the mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the alleged Central Bank bond scam be allowed to lapse without key witnesses being called?

This is arguably one of the largest financial scams to have taken place in the post-independence history of Sri Lanka. For sheer impunity and involvement of powerful politicians in collusion with a section of the corporate sector and regulatory authorities it is hard to beat.

(Whether the muted response of the opposition has anything to do with former Central Bank Governor, Arjuna Mahendran’s stint as Chief Investment Executive at Dubai Emirates NBD Bank could be interesting)

The Presidential Secretariat attributes the objective of the PCoI to President Sirisena stating: “to give the utmost punishment to those who are guilty of offenses”

If the people of Sri Lanka are serious about good governance, should they not hold him accountable to this commitment?

To be fair by the Presidential Commission, it must be flagged they have done a commendable job to bring some of the machinations of these alleged scams to the notice of the general public. This has whet their appetite to get to the bottom of these scams by identifying the key personnel involved. 

At the same time the (PCoI) to use a cricketing parlance has dropped sitters (straightforward catches) which include for example:

1) Failure to ask the Chairman, Bank of Ceylon when he was a witness last week (i) what made the BoC give Perpetual Treasuries Ltd., (PTL) facilities for Billions of Rupees virtually over the counter just prior to a Bond auction? (ii) why the BoC with a primary dealer license bought Treasury Bonds in the secondary market from PTL? (iii) why the BoC Chairman attended a meeting relating to bidding at the Bond auction said to have been convened by then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake when state banks came under the purview of another Minister – Kabir Hashim in circumstances where Karunanayake had no authority over state banks?

The same holds true to the Chairmen of People’s Bank and NSB in relation to the said meeting.

2) Although it was reported that Dr. Harsha de Silva was summoned by the PCoI in June this year, there has not been much information in the public domain whether he was adequately questioned on his role on the controversial ‘footnotes’ saga in the alleged Treasury Bond scam.

He is Deputy Minister, Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs where the Prime Minister is the Minister in charge.

‘The Sunday Times’ of 30 October 2016 reports:

“As is clear, the thrust of these footnotes is to make clear that Mahendran has not been responsible of any impropriety.

The UNP is confident that it can, through the documentation Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva has received, prove its case that its man Arjuna Mahendran is not to blame.”

Key Witneses

I am glad to note at the time of penning this piece that ministers Malik Samarawickrama and Kabir Hashim said to have been present at the INITIAL meeting in 2015 on the issuance of Treasury Bonds have been summoned as witnesses by the PCoI. At this time Malik Samarawickrama who did not hold ministerial portfolio was Chairman of the UNP, Minister Kabir Hashim was UNP General Secretary and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe – UNP leader.

The following Key witnesses and others not yet summoned by the (PCoI) must be given the opportunity to clarify matters in the interest of their good name:

1) Mr. R. Paskaralingam – Advisor to the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs (Ministry held by PM Wickremesinghe) is said to have been present at the meeting convened by then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake with Chairmen of state banks (BoC, PB, NSB) relating to bidding at the Bond auction.

2) Rosy Senanayake in connection with the allegation at the PCoI that COPE documents relating to PTL CEO Kasun Palisena’s testimony was given to ‘PTL owner’ Arjun Aloysius by “Rosy’s son” identified as “Kanishka Senanayake”.

This has been denied by Ms. Senanayake on the grounds she was not a COPE member after the August 2015 parliamentary elections. Does not the question arise whether in her capacity as ‘Deputy Chief of Staff’ in Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ‘core team’ she would have access to COPE reports? Although requested, she has still not clarified this position.

3) Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (i) who handpicked Arjuna Mahendran a foreign national in whom he had the fullest confidence to be Governor – Central Bank of Sri Lanka and who he even endorsed for a second term (ii) the CBSL the issuing agency for Treasury Bonds falling under the purview of the Prime Minister (iii) who was fully confident on the propriety of the issuance of Bonds which he robustly defended in Parliament which is at variance with the other evidence presented before the PCoI .

4) Nimal Perera – former chairman of Pan Asia Banking Corporation (PABC) said to have made the decision for PABC to act as the intermediary in secondary market transactions between PTL and EPF.

It was also alleged at the PCoI that Saman Kumara then dealer for the EPF at the CBSL had received a personal loan of Rs. 25 million from PABC when Nimal Perera was Chairman. It is relevant to ascertain whether this loan and its settlement (if any) took place in the ordinary course of banking practice or whether any special privileges were afforded. 

Should this not be of interest to the Central Bank’s ‘Bank Supervision Department’ as well?

5) The Chairmen of state financial institutions – Bank of Ceylon (Ronald Perera), National Savings Bank (Aswin de Silva) and Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (Hemaka Amarasuriya) in the context of these institutions with primary dealer licenses purchasing Treasury Bonds in the secondary market from PTL.

Conclusion

More crucial than President Sirisena’s objective “to give the utmost punishment to those who are guilty of offenses” is quantifying the losses to the people of Sri Lanka and its immediate return.

The sooner this issue is put to rest the better. The country seems obsessed with this alleged scam while placing other instances of alleged corruption also under the Rajapaksa presidency and issues of governance on the back burner.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    11

    Where were you when the Rajapakses were around? You then only attacked soft targets like Rotarians and Accountants. Now that there are no white vans you have got very bold. Would you have dared call on MR to attend an inquiry.

    • 1
      0

      PETER PERERA – YOU ASK::

      “Where were you when the Rajapakses were around? You then only attacked soft targets like Rotarians and Accountants. Now that there are no white vans you have got very bold. Would you have dared call on MR to attend an inquiry.”

      Obviously this is a ruse on behalf of interested parties to avoid responding to my article.

      Probably the ONLY individual and ONLY media outlet in Sri Lanka exposing head-on alleged egregious corruption under the Rajapaksa presidency was Lasantha Wickrematunge and the ‘Sunday Leader’.

      The hallmark of the then leading opposition embroiled in a leadership struggle was for the most part ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hounds’. Now in government, where is the promised accountability for the alleged terrible corruption under the Rajapaksa presidency?

      I am not in the business of “attacking” anyone let alone “soft targets”.

      I did my bit in the Public Interest even during the Rajapaksa presidency. This INCLUDED (i) pointing out in my article in ‘The Sunday Times’ (24 August 2008) that Dr. P.B. Jayasundera’s position as Secretary to the Treasury was untenable in the aftermath of the damning Supreme Court judgment in the LMSL privatization (ii) my belief that no corruption or abuse of power can occur if PROFESSIONALS stood their ground. In this chartered accountants / auditors are crucial. After all, are they not the first line of defense against corruption in all entities dealing with financial resources? Some correspondence in this connection was even copied to Lalith Weeratunga then Secretary to the President to no avail.

      You refer to ‘Rotarians’. I state with responsibility that Rotary International – one of the largest NGOs in the world which solicits and receives massive worldwide public donations is CORRUPT. This is from an organization that claims to be ETHICAL and having a “written whistleblower policy”.

      Now let’s get to the BOTTOM LINE –

      Could the readers of ‘Colombo Telegraph’ expect a CREDIBLE response from the parties concerned to my article: “Bond Scam: Will Mandate Of PCoI Be Allowed To
      Lapse Without Key Witnesses?”

      AMRIT MUTTUKUMARU

  • 12
    0

    A fact finding commission without any power to punish cannot have a suspect before them unless they have already made up their minds on the facts. It can be argued that young and unscrupulous Aloysius and his flashy and fleshy father in law Mahendran ( Singapore Charlie !) were just pawns in the hands of either RW or RK.

    In that case, this so called fact finding commission has let off the primary source of information.

    Sometimes in history and in deed in law , the entire nation demands to know the truth .We cannot let s financial mass murderer get away with legal quibbling. These judges are tiny and inadequate beings and hide behind legal jargon.

  • 2
    0

    Amrit Muttukumaru ~ “Bond Scam: Will Mandate Of PCoI Be Allowed To Lapse Without Key Witnesses?”
    The short answer is “Yes yes yes”.
    Unfortunately the world over, the legal system is used to uphold wrong doers and protect the evil elites.
    On 08 January 2015 we mandated the GoSL to bridle corruption. The lesson learned is that this is not possible. But a lemma is that the language/religion divide was used effectively to mask lots of wrong doings.
    Amrit has documented incriminating evidences but these will be stream rolled. Our hope is that a day will come when incapacitating the steam roller will be possible.

  • 1
    0

    We are talkinbg about bond scam. One of PENTHOUSE RAVI money laundering cases is not taken to the courts once it was set aside for technical errors. for the second time, I KNOW NOTHING RAVI acknowledged that he got some !94 millions in a bag from stock dealer to buy the house. Yet LIAR – RAVI is not arrested. On the other hand, LITRO GAS CHAIRMAN is fired from his position and arrested for the same charge of money laundering. KAbir Hassim says he gives all the support needed for the prosecution.

  • 1
    0

    Why COPE commiittee is not questioned. They have written a report with false evidence and FCID has found more information than the COPE. So, the COPE should be disbanded as a biased and partial organization that can be manipulated highly. Instead, there should be a ORganization such as FCID. Even Bribary commissions were ineffective. that should be explained why ?—————— the important thing is they have found five billion hidden away some where owned by Rajapakses. As you say, there may be a connection of Arjun Mahndran to that. In that case, Ranil may have used Arjun Mahndran to do the same theft.

  • 0
    4

    The writer has suddenly found ink in his pen.He has correctly highlighted some points.As always he tries bring down people in positions he would have like to be in.The 3 Commissioners are very honourable persons and they must have reasons for not asking questions for they must be able to work out the answers.I am sure their report will reveal everything.Sadly the writer makes use to try to insult reputed gentlemen with whom he has an imaginary axe to grind.

  • 0
    4

    Amrit Muthkumaru, PBJ is a soft target who will not bite. You bravely take on Malik, Harsha, Kabir, Rosie, Ranil. Did you have the guts to take on any of the Rajapakses .? You must be an optimist if you expect the parties you name to respond to you.. They have better things to do . They may not be even reading what you write. Rotary, lions they may all be corrupt but they will not bite you however much you rant. Have you ever written on hedging, Greek bonds, pumping and dumping of shares. Why ? Why ? If you had opened your mouth you would have been toast. I still maintain that you only attack soft targets.

  • 0
    2

    Amrit Muthkumaru, you are guilty of contempt of a Presidential Commission. You have no right to tell the Commission on whom to summon and what to ask .Ask any lawyer.

    • 2
      0

      PETER PERERA:

      The only ‘Peter Perera’ that I knew is long DEAD.

      Your friends are getting DESPERATE aren’t they?

      Sometimes MERCENARIES come in different forms for different rewards.

      Even IF I said nothing during the Rajapaksa presidency, does it mean that I must forever remain silent?

      The issue is whether a massive FRAUD did take place and whether there is a ROBUST inquiry to identify the perpetrators of this fraud so as to eventually prosecute them, bring them to justice and the state COMPENSATED for its loss.

      AMRIT MUTTUKUMARU

    • 0
      0

      Amrit never took on any of the Rajapakses. Only soft targets were on his radar during the previous regime. Such as Rotarians and accountants.

      Ha Ha!!

      Today because there are no white vans and hence he can take on Ranil, Kabir, Malik and Harsha etc.

      These are the public interest activists today !!

  • 3
    0

    Peter Perera is asking Amrit why he won’t take on the RajPakses. Why won’t he ask that from Sirisena and Ranil who came into power after fooling people into believing that Rajapakses were corrupt.If they were corrupt Whereis the evidence ?
    The govt had nearly 3 years to prove their false charges.All they do is exhume Thajudeen’s body every 3 weeks so that gullible people like PP can continue to dream.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out] Please avoid typing all capitalized comments – CT

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