The repayment was scheduled to be completed by January 2015, with the Chairman of the Task Force appointed by the Supreme Court and Central Bank informing court that the entire repayment would be completed by January 2015.
However, in a surprising move Pieris who heard the case and called for the completion of the payment stepped down on July 28th from the bench citing a “scurrilous” letter being circulated in the media and among his family members.
The move was unprecedented as no member of the Sri Lankan media, legal fraternity or otherwise had seen the letter or had witnessed the circulation of it.
Pieris was earlier, accused of many issues of conflict of interest in the mainstream media and through Colombo Telegraph,which did not prevent him from accepting the post of Chief Justice citing “conscience”.
Despite his history, Pieris spearheaded the bench which issued relevant orders for the tracing and disposing of Kothelawala held assets in order to pay the depositors.
“I want to finish the payment as soon as possible because its an indictment on the system. The fact that we have taken so long does not augur well for the judicial system” he told court when the matter was heard on March 10th.
The real reason behind the complete “U” turn is not known, but pressure from purported “employees” of Ceylinco Insurance is said to be the cause.
Directors of Ceylinco Insurance which include Kothelawala’s right hand man, Ajith Gunawaradena are accused of holding a “sham” fund by the name of CIESOT on behalf of Kothelawala.
Gunawardena is indicted for fraud in the High Court with Cecile Kothelwala the wife of Lalith Kothelawala still at large.
The efforts taken by the Police and Interpol to trace Cecile has also been questioned since she fled the country right after the collapse of Golden Key.
The moment the said fund was identified as an asset of Kothelawala by the Supreme Court and subsequently by a damning report of the Security and Exchange Commission, Peiris stepped down from the bench.
During the last hearing, the new bench which comprises Justice Sripavan, Rohini Marasinghe and Justice Sisira de Abrew, there was indication that the entire matter would be transferred back to the District Court.
The indication has caused concern among depositors.
“After six years we have been left with nothing. We have put our lives savings in this and lost everything. Over 20 of us have committed suicide and the rest are suffering each day because the regulators faulted in their duty owed towards us and the public of this country. We expected justice and thats what we want” one depositor told Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity.
The depositors further asserted that the repayment which was made thus far would also be questioned and fall into controversy if the Supreme Court decides to move the matter to the District Court.
“We walked in day in and day out to the highest court of this country after it decided to hear our case. It was here that we came for justice and its only the Supreme Court that could give us justice. Every order that was made resulted in us getting part of our monies back and we all thought that this nightmare would finally come to an end. The Chief Justice also told us that everything will be done by January next year but now after all this we are just lost. We only hope that sanity will prevail because the people of this country if not would completely lose faith in this judicial system and the regulatory system” they said.
The case is to be heard on September 19th.