Anti Corruption activist and good governance specialist Nihal Sri Ameresekere has written to the Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE), DEW Gunasekere highlighting the non-inclusion of the unlawful oil hedging deals that were carried out by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) that resulted in a loss of Rs. 480 million public funds.
In the letter, Ameresekere has listed out a series of questions which he states would assist the Auditor General in considering the matter he has highlighted on exposing the financial losses incurred as a result of poor legal consultancy in dealing with the Court cases on the CPC hedging deals.
Ameresekere had initially written to the Auditor General’s Department regarding the oil hedging deals of the CPC on May 12 this year, in reference to media reports that stated that the Central Bank had paid a sum of Rs. 480 million as legal fees in defending actions instituted in foreign jurisdictions.
Drawing attention to the fact that this sum is higher than the recurrent and annual expenditure of the entire Attorney General’s Department between the period of 2008 – 2011 (during which the highest had been Rs. 419 million) Ameresekere has pointed out that if the legal arguments he brought forward with concern to the Court cases when it initially emerged in 2009 were to be followed, this colossal loss of public finances could have been avoided.
He has expressed regret that the Supreme Court was precluded from going into the merits of the two fundamental rights applications filed by him in May 2009 and June 2009 on the Court cases regarding the oil hedging deals by three private banks, upon being misdirected on a ‘time-bar issue’ and the objections raised by then Attorney General Mohan who had informed the Court that he is defending the actions filed abroad and that Amaresekere should ‘lay his head at rest’.
Amaresekara had also referred to the three sets of notes that he had forwarded to the then Attorney General Mohan Peiris on the data, facts and the law that were to be used in his submissions to the SC, which Peiris had acknowledged and yet instead had made an assurance and a guarantee that no payments whatsoever would have to be made from public funds to the respondent banks under the CPC deals and that he would recover the costs that he reckoned would be in the region of Rs. 150 million.
Further pointing out that if his advises was considered and used in the Court cases, the colossal loss of public funds could have been avoided and therefore, has urged the COPE Chairman to probe as to why the details relevant to the costs incurred through these illegal deals were not disclosed.