In response to the exposes in the Colombo Telegraph during the latter half of January 2016 (see below for titles and the web links) and a formal complaint lodged with the Counter Fraud and Whistleblowing Unit (CFWU) of the Department for International Development (DfID, United Kingdom) by this author, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Canada) has launched a forensic audit of the financial accounts of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES, Colombo, Sri Lanka) pertaining to the Safe and Inclusive Cities (SaIC) and Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) programmes co-funded by the Department for International Development (DfID, UK) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Canada) and managed by the latter. In fact, 70% of the total funding for the GrOW programme is by the DfID.
An international audit firm has been hired by the IDRC to undertake a forensic audit of the accounts pertaining to the aforementioned two projects at the ICES in Colombo. Accordingly, personnel from this multinational audit firm were in Colombo during the week March 14 – 20, 2016 and met this author on March 18, 2016.Their report to the IDRC is due before the end of April 2016. The ICES is probably the only NGO in Sri Lanka that has been subjected to forensic auditing by a grantor to date.
The Board of Directors of the ICES, which has been silent on the exposes in the Colombo Telegraph, has issued a statement to the media in Colombo after two months (reported in the Daily Mirror of March 19, 2016, The Sunday Times of March 27, 2016, and The Sunday Times of April 03, 2016) claiming that “The International Development Research Center, which supports the research, has monitored its progress and communicated its satisfaction at the manner in which the research is progressing.”
The aforesaid statement of triumphalism by the Board of Directors of the ICES hides the fact that it is under intense scrutiny by the co-funders, viz. DfID and IDRC. If the statement by the ICES Board is correct then it is the IDRC which should issue a public statement to that effect. In fact, I believe the IDRC itself is under investigation because of its continued funding of the ICES in spite of a negative project evaluation report by Mark Hoffman of the London School of Economics in May 2009.
Additionally, legal proceedings are underway in Sri Lanka to make the following persons accountable to the fraudulent and illegal actions of the ICES, vis-à-vis the GrOW project: (in alphabetical order) Mr. Franklyn Amerasinghe (Director since mid-2015), Mr. Rajan Asirwatham (Director), Dr. Fazeeha Azmi (Director until mid-2015), Mr. Daneshan Casie Chetty (Chairperson), Mr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy ((Director until mid-2015), Prof. K. M. de Silva (Director), Dr. Mario Gomez (Executive Director), Dr. John Gooneratne (Director), Prof. H.S. Hasbullah (Director since mid-2015), Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka (Director), Dr. Wijaya Jayatilaka (Director since mid-2015), and Prof. Nira Wickramasinghe (Director).
The ICES website claims that it’s Research Fellow “Danesh Jayatilaka is a final year PhD student in Economics”. This particular claim has been online for the past three years (i.e. since 2014). How come a final year Ph.D. student remains so for three consecutive years? How long is this purported “final year”? This is just another deceit and fraud of the ICES headed by Dr. Mario Gomez and Mr. Daneshan Casie Chetty.
Whereas this author’s repeated requests to Mario Gomez to recruit a Tamil speaking person as a Research Assistant for the GrOW project to be based at the ICES in Colombo went unheeded, a buddy of Danesh Jayatilaka was recruited as Research Assistant in January 2015. Recently, Danesh Jayatilaka has offered a Research Assistant position to the person, who this author had proposed in January 2015, in order to buy her silence in the on-going administrative inquiry and judicial action.
The ICES (Colombo) has a history of incorrigible deceitful and fraudulent conduct, which came to national and international spotlight during the 2006 – 2007 periods. Moreover, a sexual harassment case at the ICES in 2005 was hushed-up by the then Executive Director who was concurrently the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka at that time. Feedbacks received by this author from past professional staff indicate unrepentant conduct of “rent seeking” and “theft of intellectual property” by the ICES, which could be “piggybacking on its earlier reputation”.
After a lull in such controversies, the present Executive Director Dr. Mario Gomez and the Chairperson Mr. Daneshan Casie Chetty are back in the business of deceit and fraud, which will be exposed to the public during the on-going judicial action by this author against the ICES.
*Muttukrishna Sarvananthan (Ph.D. Wales, M.Sc. Bristol, M.Sc. Salford, and B.A. (Hons) Delhi) is a Development Economist by profession and the Founder and Principal Researcher of the Point Pedro Institute of Development (http://pointpedro.org), Point Pedro, Northern Province, Sri Lanka. He was an Endeavour Research Fellow at the Monash University, Melbourne (2011 – 2012) and a Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington D.C. (2008 – 2009) who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org