By Colombo Telegraph –
The Lawyers for the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani A. Bandaranayake replied to the allegations related to her bank accounts in certain newspapers. Last Sunday state run Sunday observer published a detail report of her bank transactions under the title “Expose: The dual role of Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake“. The news paper said; “Accordingly, it is now time for the law enforcement authorities to commence a probe regarding the true nature of this Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake’s highly suspicious financial dealings. If that is to be done in an impartial manner, she cannot remain as the Chief Justice of the country.”
“These articles falsely and maliciously distort the truth in relation to our client’s bank accounts and declarations. Our client is also surprised as to how certain newspapers have details of her bank accounts.Our client is deeply disturbed that this information is now in the public domain when in fact such information should be private and confidential information in terms of the law.” says her lawyers Neelakandan & Neelakandan.
We publish below the full texts of the reply and the Sunday Observer article;
Date: 5fh December, 2012
Your Ref :
Our Ref : KN/MM-SC (206)
We are instructed by our client Dr Shirani A Bandaranayake to address this communication.
Our client’s attention has been drawn to articles regarding our client’s bank accounts in certain newspapers designed purely to defame our client.
These articles falsely and maliciously distort the truth in relation to our client’s bank accounts and declarations.
These articles seem to suggest that our client;
a.) has wrongfully withdrawn monies from certain accounts in order to show a zero balance as at the 3 1st of March of a particular year
b.) was in receipt of sums of approximately Rupees 250 Million during the year 1st April 2010 to the 31st March 201 1.
Our client at the very outset firmly states that both these statements are totally false.
The truth is as follows;
i.) Our client had investments in Government Treasury Bills which were invested for short periods of time because our client felt that she may have to access these monies at short notice
ii.) These sums were credited to a special account opened by the bank to route investments from the realization of one Treasury Bill to the purchase of another Treasury Bill. This is the normal and regular procedure followed for several constituents of the Bank
iii.) These monies did not at any stage lie in the account for a period of more than a day or two
v.) All investments in Treasury Bills were duly and properly declared in our client’s assets and liabilities declaration
v.) A simple illustration may be useful.
If Mr. A had Rupees 10,000/- in a 7 day Treasury Bill, at the end of the 7 days that Rupees 10,000/- together with the interest accrued is credited to the special account.
On the 7th day or the 8th day, the total money is re-invested in a new Treasury Bill for another period of 7 days. This process continuously goes on for a period of one year. If all credit entries are added it would show Rupees 10,000 plus interest multiplied by 52 which is approximately 520,000 plus interest. However all that Mr. A in fact had was the original Rupees 10, OOO plus interest.
vi.) This is what in fact happened in the case of our client. However certain newspapers have falsely and maliciously added up all the entries in a way that would create the impression that our client had Rupees 252 million which gives a totally false and distorted impression. In actual fact our client never had Rupees 252 Million or a sum anywhere close to the said sum.
vii.) Our client re-iterates that every single cent had by our client has been declared in the relevant declarations of assets and liabilities.
viii.) It is also clear that our client did not withdraw amounts from the account prior to 31st March of each year in order to create a distorted view. The monies were always in Government securities at all times except for a day or two, between the date of maturity and the date of re-investment during which such monies were in the aforementioned special current account.
ix.) All Treasury Bills purchased on behalf of our client have been duly and properly declared
x.) Our client is also surprised as to how certain newspapers have details of her bank accounts.
xi.) Our client is deeply disturbed that this information is now in the public domain when in fact such information should be private and confidential information in terms of the law.
xii.) We may add that the Chief Justice of the country, as a citizen is also entitled to the protection of the law of the land.
xiii.) We may also note that these allegations have not even been raised as allegations in the impeachment process.
xiv.) Since wide publicity has been already given to the aforesaid allegations, we would be most grateful if you could publish this letter in order to correct and clarify the matter.
(Neelakandan & Neelakandan)
Attorneys-at-Law & Notaries Public
Sunday Observer Article
Expose:The dual role of Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake
The Chief Justice (CJ) of a country is the highest judicial officer in the land. From such a person, it is fair for the public to expect a standard of conduct that is above reproach. As a result, the CJ would be expected to display the highest degree of honesty and integrity. Even if the CJ may be prone to a bona- fide mistake on a rare occasion (like all human beings), deliberate and conscious misconduct or misdemeanour cannot ever be a part of a CJ’s conduct.
The CJ should also leave no room for any questions to be raised about his/her conduct. In addition, the CJ’s financial dealings must be above suspicion and must not in any way indicate any pattern of behaviour that suggests impropriety, financial misconduct, bribery, corruption, money laundering or embezzlement. It is also imperative that the CJ must not leave room for any doubt whatsoever to be entertained about his/her behaviour pertaining to his/her financial transactions.
However, in the case of Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, it is abundantly clear that she falls far short, in this aspect of financial propriety. As is well-known, major suspicions are aroused of money laundering in the following circumstances:
(a) the operation of several bank accounts by a person, which suggests that multi-accounts are used to defuse the magnitude and frequency of transactions in order to confuse regulators.
(b) the opening and closing of bank accounts within short periods of time, which suggests that the accounts are used for a particular transaction and then closed before suspicion is aroused in the minds of the authorities.
(c) the manipulation of accounts to have low balances or zero balances on certain significant dates, e.g. 31st December or 31st March, (which are the dates that are generally used by regulators or surveillance agencies to monitor accounts on a regular basis), in order to reduce suspicion or evade detection by regulators.
A careful assessment of Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake’s Account No. 101110002058 (Old No. 100002001360) maintained at the National Development Bank (NDB) reveals the following:
(1) During the year 2007/2008, Dr. Bandaranayake maintains the above account in an active manner, with four debits to the value of Rs. 5,524,875.25 and eight credits to the value of Rs. 5,524,875.25 being transacted through the account. By 8th February 2008, a sum of Rs. 674,323.52 was lying to the credit of the account. On that date, the entire amount is withdrawn, thus reducing the balance to zero.
Thereafter, no transactions took place and accordingly, on 31st March 2008, the balance in the account continued to remain at zero. On that basis, Dr. Bandaranayake did not disclose the bank account in her Assets and Liabilities Declaration, even though the rules pertaining to the Declarations demand that a person discloses all accounts even if such accounts do not contain any balances.
(2) The account lies dormant until 6th May 2008, on which date a sum of Rs. 519,534.55 is credited to the account, and thereafter the account becomes active, with 22 debits amounting to Rs. 31,860,754.47 and 41 credits amounting to Rs. 31,860,754.47 being reduced upto 3rd February 2009. Then, on 3rd February 2009, the entire sum of Rs. 616,895.75 which was in the account on that date, is withdrawn and the balance is reduced to zero. Thereafter, the account remains inactive, and on 31st March 2009, the account records a zero balance. Accordingly, Dr. Bandaranayake, for the second time, does not disclose such account in her Assets and Liabilities Declaration as at 31st March 2009.
(3) The zero balance remains until 3rd July 2009, at which point, a sum of Rs. 500,000.00 is credited to the account.
Thereafter until 13th January 2010, the account is operated in a highly active manner with 10 debits amounting to Rs. 15,508,794.63 and 18 credits amounting to Rs. 15,508,794.63 being recorded in the account.
However, on 13th January 2010, the entire sum of Rs. 700,078.18 lying to the credit of the account is withdrawn, thus making the account balance zero, once again. Such zero balance status in the account remains as at 31st March 2010, and once again, for the third time in succession, Dr. Bandaranayake does not disclose the account in her Assets and Liabilities Declaration.
(4) The account lies inactive until 7th April 2010, and on that date the account is credited once again with a sum of Rs.910,473.22 and the account regains its usual robust character with 27 debits amounting to Rs.57,488,454.95 and 37 credits amounting to Rs.57,488,454.95 being recorded up to 18th February 2011. On 18th February 2011, the now familiar total withdrawal occurs, and on that date the entire balance lying in the account of Rs.2,057,098.86 is withdrawn, leaving the account with a zero balance once again. Such zero balance is maintained as at 31st March 2011, and yet again, for the fourth time in succession, Dr. Bandaranayake does not disclose the account in her Assets and Liabilities Declaration.
(5) The account remains inactive until 5th May 2011 in keeping with the regular pattern that has by now been established, and on that date a sum of Rs.974,280.39 is credited to the account and the account becomes highly active once again.
This advanced level of activity continues until 30th March 2012, by which time, 88 debits amounting to a staggering Rs.256,416,639.42, and 171 credits to a similar value of Rs.256,414,342.34 passes through the account. But, as is now very familiar, on 30th March 2012 the entirety of the Rs.10,047,779.95 that is lying to the credit in that account is once again withdrawn in the established pattern, and the account is reduced to zero once again. Such zero balance is recorded as at 31st March 2012, and again, for the fifth consecutive time, Dr. Bandaranayake does not disclose the account in her Assets and Liabilities Declaration.
(6) True to the pattern, a sum of Rs.10,047,779.95 is brought back to the account on 5th April 2012, and the account resumes its active character yet again.
It is obvious that, the methodology adopted in the operation of the above account is a well thought out and sophisticated operation. It is not an operation of an account that would be expected from any ordinary person, let alone the country’s chief judge of the Supreme Court. The magnitude of the figures and the careful avoidance of significant dates is consistent with an intention to conceal the operation of the account, and avoid detection.
The initial study of the operations of Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake’s account suggests a pattern of behaviour which would easily arouse suspicion among any regulator, as the behaviour displays many devious methods to avoid detection of the nature of the transactions.
The operation also suggests that Dr. Bandaranayake has deliberately and consistently acted in at least five consecutive instances to avoid disclosure of the sums that were in her account and that the scheme has been meticulously implemented in a highly sophisticated manner. A further suspicion that may arise is as to whether Dr. Bandaranayake was using her privileged position, first as a Supreme Court Judge and thereafter as the Chief Justice, to indulge in this activity, knowing fully well that her actions are very unlikely to be investigated by any other regulatory agency. Being the Chief Justice of the country, does not give such person immunity from the laws of the land. The law must apply in a just and fair manner to all persons, however high and mighty they may be.
Accordingly, it is now time for the law enforcement authorities to commence a probe regarding the true nature of this Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake’s highly suspicious financial dealings. If that is to be done in an impartial manner, she cannot remain as the Chief Justice of the country.
Justice must apply to the Chief Justice as well.