Chairman of Transparency International, Sri Lanka (TISL) Lakshan Dias and prominent TISL Board Member, J.C. Weliamuna have both stepped down from their positions in the organization in the wake of several Right to Information (RTI) petitions being filed by trade unionists under the RTI Act asking for reports relating to alleged corruption and internal mismanagement at the organization.
The official website of TISL indicates that a new Chairman, SCC Elankoven, has been appointed to the organization while three new Directors have also been appointed. The new Chairman, SCC Elankovan is ‘presently a Consultant to the National NGO Action Front (NNAF) providing support to the NNAF assisting in the areas; of increasing membership especially expanding to the North, East and Plantation areas.’
The Colombo Telegraph learns that RTI petitions filed against TISL have been entertained by an Information Officer appointed by TISL but requests have been denied on the basis that the information asked for does not come within the ambit of the information that the TISL is bound to provide as a Public Authority. The Coalition Against Corruption (CAC) which exercised the RTI powers to submit six RTI applications to TISL has been asked to submit appeals to the Designated Officer who is the CEO of the organization, Asoka Obeyesekere.
The applications had been handed over by the ACA representatives on March 1st to TISL’s Information Officer, Nimal Keerthi Jayathileke, who had accepted the applications on behalf of the TI Sri Lanka Chapter. The applications had sought information on several cases at TISL alleging collusive action by Weliamuna supported by Lakshan Dias and and TISL Executive Director Ashoka Obeyesekere which resulted in grave internal mismanagement. The RTI requests asked for the report by J C Weliamuna and Lakshan Dias on an incident following an internal inquiry where Obeyesekere is alleged to have had penalised staff, a Rs. 1.1 fraud transaction, and to ascertain if TISL provided a job to a foreign female (the wife of an associate of Obeyesekere) who did not possess the working visa to work in Sri Lanka and if she was paid ETF and EPF.
The CAC had worked with TISL in the past and had contributed towards the drafting of the policy on the safeguarding of whistleblowers. Long standing staff members at TISL who had helped to draft that policy had, as a result of raising questions internally in protest, not had their contracts renewed and some were given payoffs by the organization.
Interestingly even though the TISL website mentions the fact that TISL had been able to obtain the financial records of political parties through filing RTI applications, it does not mention the fact that any RTI petitions had been filed against TISL. Neither does it provide any details relating to the responses by the organization to those RTI requests.