The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has kicked off a fresh investigation to determine if any Treasury Bond scams took place at Central Bank from 2008 to 2015, during the term of former Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal.
COPE Chairman Sunil Handunneththi has informed Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, that his committee has already commenced investigations to determine if any malpractices were committed during the past eight years, under Cabraal’s tenure.
On the instructions of the Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, the Auditor General has also submitted a report analyzing bond transactions during the past eight years to COPE. However a source with close links to the committee was quick to point out that the Finance Minister did not provide such support when the bond transaction issue under Mahendran’s term was investigated by the committee. “But as this is an investigation against a Governor of the previous administration, the Finance Minister is also fully supporting the COPE investigation,” the source noted.
Cabraal was the former governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, from 1 July 2006 till his resignation on 9 January 2015, following the change in presidency. Cabraal was chief economic advisor to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he was prime minister.
During his term as Governor, he has been at the centre of various controversies. According to the Anti-Corruption Front, Cabraal is alleged to be involved in several corruption cases amounting to millions of rupees including in the Greek Bonds purchase involving LKR 1257 Million; Defrauding the Cabinet of Ministers and the Sri Lankan State by forcibly acquiring the Ceylinco – Helsmeier Project and establishing the Sink Lanka Hotel Project; and the Hedging Fund deal involving LKR 200 – 700 Million. Some of these cases are reportedly under investigation by the FCID.
Last year, COPE charged Mahendran for his direct hand in the Treasury Bond scam which resulted in the country losing Rs. 1.6 billion, while Perpetual Treasuries Limited linked to his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius recorded a profit surpassing Rs. 5 billion. COPE in its final report on the investigations into the Treasury Bond scam ruled that Mahendran was ‘directly responsible’ for the 2015 and 2016 bond scams. The COPE report also recommended a law enforcement agency to carry out an investigation into Perpetual Treasuries Limited and how it received undue advantage as a primary dealer from the Central Bank.