27 May, 2020

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Not Only The Chairman Husband; Chief Justice Wife Must Also Resign!

By Uvindu Kurukulasuriya –

Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake and her husband National Savings Bank (NSB) Chairman Pradeep Kariyawasam are at the center of a scandal again.

When Justice Bandaranayake was appointed as the Chief Justice, I raised the serious conflict of interest issues relating to her. Within the Asian region, the sixth Conference of Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific held in Beijing in August 1995 adopted the Statement of Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary. Sri Lanka was represented by the Supreme Court Judge P. R. P. Perera who voluntarily agreed to the Principles on behalf of the then Chief Justice G. P. S. De Silva. Principle 39 of the Beijing Statement says, “Inducements or benefits should not be offered to or accepted by judges if they affect, or might affect, the performance of their judicial functions.”

Under the title “Chief Justice or her husband must resign” I wrote; The Chief Justice must explain how her husband was appointed Chairman of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, and a member of the Board of Directors of Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC. How was he also appointed Chairman of the National Savings Bank?  Had he applied for the job? Was he interviewed?  Who were the other applicants?  Weren’t there any other qualified applicants other than her husband? She must also explain how these things are consistent with international standards concerning judicial independence. If she cannot, she or her husband must resign. After all, “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.”

Chief Justice and her husband

While Justice Shirani Bandaranayake sat on the Bench of Sri Lanka’s apex court, her husband Pradeep Kariyawasam was an unsuccessful man working in the marketing field. In June 2009 following a Supreme Court order to the Treasury Secretary to appoint a Board of Directors to the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) after the government took it over, President Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Finance, appointed Justice Shirani Bandaranayake’s husband Pradeep Kariyawasam to the new SLIC Board as its Chairman. Herein lies the rub.

The names proposed by President Rajapaksa for the new Board of Directors for SLIC received Supreme Court approval after the list was presented to Court by Deputy Solicitor General Sanjaya Rajaratnam on 26 June 2009 on behalf of the Treasury Secretary. But Kariyawasam’s good fortune did not end there. He was also appointed to the Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC as a member of its Board of Directors along with Defence Secretary and Presidential sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who was appointed Chairman.

But that is not all. On May 15, 2010 Pradeep Kariyawasam was also appointed Chairman of the National Savings Bank by President Rajapaksa. The NSB controls assets worth Sri Lankan Rupees 424,994,303,000/-.

Now under her husband’s chairmanship, the NSB has evolved a “Sophisticated bank robbery”; the questionable Rs. 390 million deal between the National Savings Bank and a group of investors of The Finance Company (TFC).

Sophisticated bank robbery under CJ’s husband

During an interview with Mirror Business, The Finance Company PLC (TFC) Chairman Preethi Jayawardena and TFC Director/Chief Executive Officer Kamal Yatawara reiterated that the transaction in question was strictly a private one between the owners of the shares and the NSB, thereby having no material impact on TFC or its depositors. According to them, this corrupt transaction is not even a transaction between two state run organizations. It is a private deal between two cronies and the NSB.  Good Governance and Minority rights activist K. C. Vignarajah told The Island Financial Review: “The deal was suspicious from the very start …The management of the NSB should be held accountable to the public, no matter how small the transaction may seem to them. Some had argued that the President cannot prevent the payments from being made on technical grounds, but if the deal was suspect there is nothing wrong with preventing those responsible from getting away with the loot, especially when it is public money”.

Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake and Pradeep Kariyawasam

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce issuing a statement called for an impartial inquiry and urged authorities to take action against any wrongdoers. “The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) notes with concern the recent transaction of approximately 13 percent of The Finance Company PLC. The Chamber believes that ensuring integrity and transparency are vital to maintain investor confidence in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) for the capital market to remain robust,” the Chamber observed.

Opposition lawmaker and leading economist Dr. Harsha De Silva said, “This transaction exposed only the tip of the iceberg. There is a mafia in the country’s Stock Exchange and this deal has exposed a few of them and we are not going to let go. We hope the Regulators find the courage to carry out an investigation and give a fair judgement. If they do this, it will have a positive impact on the Colombo Stock Exchange, the inflow of foreign investments and the overall development of the country”.  Alluding to the deal as a ‘sophisticated bank robbery, Dr. Harsha De Silva said the country needed sophisticated law enforcement officers and regulators to tackle such fraud. Dr. De Silva called for the resignation of NSB Chairman Pradeep Kariyawasam and said authorities should be allowed to carry out an impartial inquiry and punish any offenders without fear and favour.

Now, I must say the resignation of NSB Chairman Pradeep Kariyawasam is not enough, his wife must also resign! How can any investigation be carried while his wife sits as the Chief Justice?

The government has already announced that it has appointed a committee to investigate the matter. At the end of the day any findings will go to the Supreme Court for a decision.

Nelum Gamage and her Husband

We do not need to go for India or to the west for best practices. Sri Lanka already has a good example. When the husband of the head of the Bribery Commission Nelum Gamage was allegedly involved in corruption, she resigned. She was a respected civil servant. When the then President D. B. Wijetunga had asked her to close the corruption investigation file related to the then General Manager of the Railway Department W. A. K. Silva, she put a note regarding the President’s request. She was a lady of integrity. After the Bribery Commission was established under President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Nelum Gamage was appointed as its first Chairperson. Unfortunately her husband was allegedly involved in corruption, so she resigned. We must ask Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake to follow Nelum Gamage’s example!Like all Chief Justices since President J. R. Jayewardene’s 1978 Constitution, Shirani Bandaranayake’s too was a direct appointment by the President. That then is not the point. What is however important is that none of the spouses of previous judges have accepted political appointments.

The Chief Justice is automatically the Chairperson of the Sri Lankan Judicial Service Commission. This means that, effectively, she is the boss. While much of the work is delegated to others, it is the Chairperson who is ultimately responsible for the “corporate culture” in the operations of any organization. This is how organizations operate on a psychological level. The leader sets the tone. The relationship between the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka and her spouse cannot be private. Not when that spouse holds key positions in government institutions that is a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is also corruption. It is worthwhile quoting Dr. Colvin R. De Silva when he said, while participating in a no confidence motion against then Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike, “the service exacts from itself a higher standard because it recognizes that the state is entitled to demand that its servants shall not only be honest in fact but beyond the reach of suspicion of dishonesty”.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Well written and fully agree. Sri Lanka is a corrupt society.

  • 0
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    100% agree! well done!

  • 0
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    People get what they deserve from the Mahinda Chinthanaya!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 0
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    All are thick skinned and have no shame…

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    Why do you want both Shirni & Husband to resign?
    She is not accused of any wrong doing.
    I agree that her husband should resign and allow her to do her job
    without any favours to the politicians.

    • 0
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      Dear Justin,

      You will understand why if you read again carefully, perhaps you skipped the part why…

      “How can any investigation be carried while his wife sits as the Chief Justice?
      The government has already announced that it has appointed a committee to investigate the matter. At the end of the day any findings will go to the Supreme Court for a decision.”

      If you are familiar with Sinhalese, there is a saying හොරාගේ අම්මගෙන් පේන අහනවා වාගේ. so that’s why

      Get it?

  • 0
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    Justin has to read the article again.

    • 0
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      Justin, Justin Just-in, Just read the facts Just-in. Be Neutral for the sake of poor Sri Lankans, Please don’t take sides on a issue like this Justin.

  • 0
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    To what levels of astonishing degradation is the country being pushed into – and that too with mocking impunity. A tired nation keeps hoping the sooner this venal system of governance ends the better.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    This is Sri Lanka, folks. ANYTHING goes, inclusive of these unholy alliances that cover every eventuality with, any recourse to so-called “Courts of Law” being, potentially, met with jail sentences for “contempt of court>’ We certainly live in a very large lunatic asylum!

  • 0
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    As usual Uvindu has done a good job. If he was in Sri Lanka he would have been dropped into the sea from a helicopter!
    Things are getting from bad to worse with the bad and the ugly are replacing the good! Conflict of interest is not a principle followed in this country governed by a family mafia.

    Sunna Anagathayak to the thick skinned CJ

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    As usual Uvindu has done a good job. If he was in Sri Lanka he would have been dropped into the sea from a helicopter!
    Things are getting from bad to worse with the bad and the ugly are replacing the good! Conflict of interest is not a principle followed in this country governed by a family mafia.

    Subha Anagathayak to the thick skinned CJ

  • 0
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    Shirani Bandaranayake and her husband Pradeep Kariyasam are a disgrace to Sri Lanka. She is sucking up to her ‘daddy” Mahinda Rajapaske.

  • 0
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    There is a cancer eating away at the heart of the system and its name is “greed.”
    We have to understand that this highlighted NSB scandal is only one manifestation of the overall culture of greed that is plaguing our country. However it’s evident that the ruling family’s sole aim is to fatten their wealth at the expense of the people. Unfortunately, this crisis of greed is made even worse by the fact that President and many of those around him are implicated in the same kind of abuses that we are seeing on the front pages every day.
    It is becoming increasingly apparent that the ruling family will do anything, legal or otherwise, to fatten the already huge wealth reserve of theirs. As we have seen in the recent years they lie about their dealings whilst portraying as “good honorable statesmen”

  • 0
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    An uprising against UPFA Govt. coming, People will take to streets.

    Only UNP can save stock market colapse. And credibility to International world.

    They may free fonseka to divert attention.

    Uneducated fmily politicians ruining the nation.

  • 0
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    The Sri Lankan Judiciary was fairly independent up to about 1970. Before that the Judiciary had even convicted Members of Parliament in govt. for Bribery and Corruption. However after 1970 Felix as the (Dis)Hon. Minister of Justice ruined the Judiciary. The famous film ‘Sagarayak Meda’ by Gamini Fonseka clearly depicted the villany committed by the Powers of Corruption. Even under JRJ there were a few excesses which some believe conveniently that the Judiciary became corrupt after JRJ assumed office in ’77. Really the father of Corrupting the Judiciary is Felix Dias Bandaranayake and none other. Why many falsely blame JRJ is because of the issue on the stand of CJ Neville Samarakoon on the ’82 Referandum. I do not think there is anything wrong with a Referendum to extend the life of a sitting Parliament, as a Referendum is a genuine Democratic exercise to decide. However we all should admire the courage of Public Servants in the calibre of Mr. Neville Samarakoon to stand by his own conviction against the head of State. Ofcourse Heads of State as JRJ are of a different league compared to Murderers as Premadasa and Rajapaksa. Yet I believe if the majority Public Servants have a back bone surely these Despots cannot kill everyone. Sadly it is not the case today. See the former AG an eminent Lawyer having bent even backwards to appease the Rajapaksas who thought would be appointed as the CJ, found to his dismay he was not to be the CJ. After having ruined his brilliant Legal carrier, today he has been compelled to turn to Banking, like what happened to Felix Dias Bandaranayake after he lost in ’77 he reverted back to the unofficial bar but without a brief. These are good lessons for other Public Servants who act as Public Serpents.

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    Now things are going from bad to worse in SL, because of this type of lawlessness. Recently I read that a sum of Rs125 billion, tax payers money given on loans, to be written off as bad debts. Can any country march forward with this type of Mismanagements are Corruptions?

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    @Gamini, there are some huge gaps in your summary. Not even before the 1970’s but also in the eighties and mid nineties, the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka was independent. Do you not remember the good judgments they gave? After that, Sarath Silva pushed it down the slide for good!

    Now we have judicial idiots who are just plain politial bumsuckers

  • 0
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    Uvindu, Thanks for this article and its a relief that we still have brave writers in th ecalibre of you who dont wash dirty linen for idiots. thanks again !

  • 0
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    Dear Uvindu,

    I was really enthralled of your article. This is the massive scandal where the CJ’s husband involved. It is a controversial and exasperating issue that has grappled our country’s economy at present.

    Of course, your demand of the resignation of CJ is potentially imperative or vital, but the question is whether she would set precedent following the footstep of Nelum Gamage as you rightly alluded. If she is, in fact, candid in her profession, she should do it as you pointed out.

    Indeed, it was a thought provoking and enlightening article Uvindu. Keep going to expose the underground dealings of this despotic regime.

  • 0
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    OMG shameless corrupt rogues, people must rise to chase these rogues.

  • 0
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    It is in reality a great and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  • 0
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    …Get-rich-quicker schemes are bound to come to SL too… But its too bad we will continue to have numerous incidents like this in the future too, until we continue to have people who like-a the money-the.
    We cannot expect the standards of Nelum Gamage anymore… Though I do pray for it to happen …..
    A smarter way to prevent these scandals of public funds is to be able to appoint the Judiciary or the SC and a Competent Auditor, by directly electing them during general or presidential election voting… (such candidates certainly need to be non-partisan to be eligible)… and it wouldn’t cost us too much extra to count the tick that the voter adds on the voting card for an independent judiciary and or SC and an Competent Auditor ….. if not … we will continue to be fooled by two-faced bureaucrats with smiles on their faces to beat the actors of Colly-wood…
    I will certainly not take my belongings or kids into SL until proper change happens in there…. and wouldn’t want the next generation to suffer from the swindling including the un-disclosable bad debt write offs of State Banks …. by the corrupt along with the Royal Party goons, citizen Silva etc ….

  • 0
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    Uvindu says “A conflict of interest is also corruption” but not in Sri Lanka. We are living with “Wili Lajja Nethi Gass ballo”.They will drink eat from any garbage.

  • 0
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    Good scoop but lack one important information. Who Stopped the transaction and the payment and on whose instructions.

  • 0
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    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this site needs much more attention. Iíll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!

  • 0
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    In Sri Lanka no body will ever resign or have never been resigned in recent history. People should force them out. Hedging crook, Asantha de Mel was forced out by a court case. But here, CJ herself is in the picture. Therefore we need to get international help to oust Shirani Bandaranayake and then strikes and boycotts to get rid of Pradeep Kariyawasam. Do not expect justice from this regime as they are also the part of the problem.

  • 0
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    An extremely important exposure. The independence of the judiciary is one of the key pillars of governance. It had already been irrevocable compromised. But, the whole complict diabolical machinations involving the appointing the new Chief Justice and appointing her husabnd to key and lucractive positions by the Chief Executive is fatal to any prospect of democratic governance. These people have violated the trust of the people. Thery have violated the sovereignty of the people.
    In my opinion, not only the Chief Justice and her Husband, the Chief Executive, the master puppeteer, who is primarily responsible should resign.But, as all despots, he won’t. Not will the Opposition do anything about any of these issues, since they are equally complicit in crimes aginst the people. So, the Chief Execuive, Head of State and Executive president and his crony-mafia dynastic regime would have to be hauled before a People’s Tribunal- and that day will come.

    Great journalism-Uvindu.A beacon of truth and justice!

    Surendra
    Secretary
    Ceylon Communist Party -Maoist

  • 0
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    It is a sad state of affairs in our country (in every nook and corner) that politics and politicians over the years have been so very successful in interfering with the independence of the judiciary. It is high time that the right thinking people of the country, especially those in the legal profession set an example to free the judiciary of this menace (political interference) by standing up for what is just and right.

    I think the people of this country will have to be given a wake up call and there is no magic wand to so. Put country before self and rekindle patriotism professed by our forefathers. This thinking will have to commence right away in each one’s conscience/heart by asking this vital question “ask not what the country has done for you but what you have done for the country”

  • 0
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    Great! hats off my unknown journalist Uvindu ! If these sort of event had taken place in India, we can see how NDTV and other channels climb on government authorities shoulders! But unfortunately we are in Sri Lanka! All the people those who have got fair enough of knowledge can understand this! and they will react too. But majority of poor Sri Lankan population doesn’t know even a single letter of this sort of mal practices and fraud. Until our media and good politicians find such good mechanism to get these message to those segment of people, every day these thing will come and go! Wish you luck mother Sri Lanka

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    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

  • 0
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    Dr Gamini and Dr Ajith want to say Under UNP Juducery was indepened and Imperital.That is wrong concept.JRJ pratice of former UNP policy of Judicary.

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