Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Sunil Handunneththi assured Parliament today that there was no move to sweep the Central Bank bond scandal under the carpet. He made this statement in response to an allegation by Joint Opposition MP Bandula Gunawardane.
Handunneththi also said that the COPE report on the controversial bond scandal involving former Governor Arjuna Mahendran will be presented in Parliament on October 13. “COPE is working based on a road map and there is no move to sweep the matter under the carpet,” he said.
Gunawardane alleged that a series of underhand tactics had been adopted in an effort to sweep the issue under the carpet. Citing reasons for his claim, Gunawardane said that the sudden change of members in the committee was one such tactic.
In early August the committee announced that it will release the report on the bond issue before end of August, however this has now been postponed for next month.
In July, the Colombo Telegraph reported that the independence of the COPE was in jeopardy due to clandestine moves by the UNP to thwart attempts in taking action against Mahendran. Since the Auditor’s General’s Report was released, several UNP members in the COPE have been trying to find various excuses in their attempt to delay the process. However, other members of COPE have been equally adamant and have not allowed certain UNP members to act in an unacceptable manner which can jeopardize the COPE’s investigations process.
In July, the UNP leadership decided to bring in Sujeewa Senasinghe, in an effort to strengthen the UNP COPE team trying to protect Mahendran. The party had ordered MP M. Velu Kumar who was a COPE Member to resign from the committee, and make way for Senasinghe. Subsequent to this move, mid- last month, Senasinghe is alleged to have adopted an intimidating tone during the questioning of officials of Central Bank over the bond scam. Senasinghe later received an earful from the more senior members of COPE who warned him against his unacceptable manner of questioning the officials.