22 November, 2019

Blog

PM’s Testimony At Bond Commission – Reality Check

By Amrit Muttukumaru

Amrit Muttukumaru

Whether PM Ranil Wickremesinghe was ‘summoned’, ‘requested’ or he ‘volunteered’ to present himself before the PCoI (Presidential Commission of Inquiry) investigating the alleged Treasury Bond Scams is immaterial. The bottom line is that he must be applauded for being a model of probity worthy of emulation by other world leaders to come before the PCoI (with a large retinue of ministers and parliamentarians) in circumstances where seemingly the PCoI considered his evidence to be only of marginal significance. This position has been amply borne out by (i) PM being given questions in ADVANCE so as to enable him to provide answers by way of affidavit (ii) PM being at the PCoI reportedly for less than an hour to clarify matters arising from his affidavit (iii) limited questions posed to him unlike in the case of other witnesses including former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake who were GRILLED by Messrs. Dappula de Livera and Yasantha Kodagoda – Senior Additional Solicitor General and Additional Solicitor General respectively (iv) PCoI decision to invite the AG himself who was not involved in the investigation up to that point to personally lead evidence for the FIRST TIME.

The PCoI also in its wisdom for the most part did not question the PM on the damning evidence elicited over the past 8 months from witnesses linked to the alleged Treasury Bond scams at the centre of which was PTL (Perpetual Treasuries Limited) owned/controlled by Arjun Aloysius who is the son-in-law of Arjuna Mahendran a foreign national who was handpicked by the PM to be Central Bank Governor.

From media reports it is learnt that the questions posed to the PM related to (i) Funding requirements (ii) Methodology for the issuance of Treasury Bonds being changed on the advise of the PM from ‘Direct Placement’ to ‘Public Auction ’ (iii) ‘Conflict of Interest’ arising from then Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s son-in-law, Arjun Aloysius owning/controlling PTL –  a Primary Dealer.

Conflict of Interest

Although all three issues have controversy, this article will dwell mainly on the ‘conflict of interest’ since this is at the CENTRE of the alleged bond scam. Although the PM CONFIRMED both in his affidavit and while testifying before the Bond Commission that he was AWARE of the ‘conflict of interest’, the Bond Commission and AG going by media reports did not force the issue on:

i) Why the PM handpicked  Mahendran – a foreign national as Central Bank Governor being aware of the ‘conflict of interest’?

ii) The PM’s affirmation in his affidavit to the Bond Commission: “Upon the formation of the new Government in January 2015 there was a general consensus within the Government that Mr Mahendran should be appointed to the post of Governor of CBSL.”

Should not the alleged “general consensus” been explored? Did it include HE the President?

iii) Why the PM continued to have Mahendran as CBSL Governor although he was aware that Mahendran had RENEGED on his ‘assurance’ to him that his son-in-law (Arjun Aloysius) will sever all links with PTL prior to his appointment as CBSL Governor ?

iv) The PM’s testimony at the Bond Commission: “Mr. Aloysius did say to me he need bit of time to dispose his share holding to get good price. (shares of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd or shares he held in other entity in the name of PTL). I met him (Aloysius) at one or two parties, and there he told me that he was pursuing his interests in Mendis distilleries.”

What is at issue is the INTEGRITY of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. How can the PM who is also responsible for the CBSL even consider a “bit of time” to resolve a ‘conflict of interest’ concerning the Governor and that too articulated “at one or two parties”?

v) Why the PM robustly defended and endorsed Mahendran for a second term despite the widespread perception of his role in the alleged bond scam?

Holding Companies of PTL

At the Bond Commission when asked whether the PM was aware that the “holding companies of PTL were Perpetual Capital Holding Pvt Ltd and Perpetual Capital Pvt Ltd” he pleaded ignorance. However in his affidavit to the PCoI the PM affirmed:

“I became aware that Mr Aloysius had in the month of January itself resigned from the post of Chief Executive Officer and Director of Perpetual Treasuries (Pvt) Ltd. I also became aware that however he remained a Shareholder of that company”

Since the ‘conflict of interest’ was the CRUX of the alleged Bond scam, in the context of (i) Arjun Aloysius being the son-in-law of then CBSL Governor Mahendran who the PM handpicked for the position (ii) the PM having removed the Central Bank from the Finance Ministry and placing it under his own ministry (iii) being aware that Mahendran had RENEGED on his ‘assurance’ to him that Arjun Aloysius will SEVER all links with PTL prior to his appointment as CBSL Governor – was it not INCUMBENT on the PM to be AWARE of the holding structure of PTL?  Should not the PCoI have pursued this line?

Phone Calls & ‘Footnotes’

Since the Prime Minister was satisfied that Arjun Aloysius had divested himself of any tangible association with PTL, is there any justification for detractors to castigate the UNP parliamentarians concerned (some even ministers) who as COPE members had either originated/received several telephone calls/text messages to/from Arjun Aloysius during the period COPE was probing the alleged bond scams primarily involving PTL?  After all, what is wrong with friends being in touch with each other? Some even did so for purported literary endeavors.

It is heartening to note that some UNP parliamentarians are fostering Sri Lanka’s age-old cultural traditions by keeping in touch with the grown-up grandchildren of their parents’ friends!

The four ‘honorable members’ concerned were among the UNP parliamentarians who had introduced the controversial ‘FOOTNOTES’ to the Sunil Handuneththi led COPE report probing the alleged 27 February 2015 bond scam. It is strongly recommended that those really interested in getting a better understanding of the alleged Bond Scams should peruse the widely read ‘Sunday Times’ exposé of alleged machinations in relation to the Sunil Handuneththi led COPE report.

The ‘Sunday Times’ referred to the ‘Footnotes’ as follows:

“As is clear, the thrust of these footnotes is to make clear that Mahendran has not been responsible of any impropriety.”

Conclusion

The PCoI must be congratulated for demonstrating that the law is no respecter of persons and whatever exalted position one holds is immaterial. To illustrate this principle, the PCoI took it upon itself to invite the AG himself to personally lead the evidence of the PM although in the normal course of events the evidence of a witness which is of marginal significance (as is the case with the PM as presumably opined by the PCoI) would have been led by a Senior State Counsel.

The Attorney General deserves accolades on his remarkable dexterity and diligence in being able to review all the evidence that transpired during the last 8 months, study the working files of his representatives and study the PM’s response submitted by way of affidavit and marshal all this information in a succinct manner so that the questioning of the PM could have been concluded in under an hour. It must be noted that the AG was made aware that he had to perform this demanding task only after he received an invitation from the PCoI to personally lead evidence for the FIRST TIME in this investigation.

Just recently the headline in the ‘Daily FT’ of 8 November “Sri Lanka must ‘walk its talk’ to achieve hub status had the German Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Jorn Rohde while citing the examples of Hong Kong and Singapore “which took off because they put in place the right governance infrastructure” inter alia referring to “zero tolerance of corruption”.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 12
    1

    Good one Mr. Amit! Arjuna Mahendran was appointed Governor of CB, by Bond scam Ranil.despite everyone saying that Indrejith Coomaraswamy, current governor was more qualified- with a Ph.D and more experience and more honest.
    Bond scam Ranil must be Impeached immediately for looting Central Bank – with “expert advice” from Harvard University, Mckinesy and Co, Millennium Challenge corporation (MCC) and IMF , who are now running BOI and setting up a Land Bank to land grab state land and so called under utilized lands, in the name of setting up Fake Public Private Parnerships (PPP) – like the Horana tire factory scam!
    Ranil and his network of Royal College cronies must be impeached beggaring the people of Lanka with advice of US Economic Hit men before he sells off all the land and marine resources of Sri Lanka under the guise of PPP!

    • 8
      0

      Dead on! Sri Lanka is being pushed into a Greek-like Debt trap by IMF and the Right wing MCC which provides “free advice” to PM’s office! Economic Hit men are telling Ranil on how to sell of and privatize “under-utilized lands”, ports, LNG reserves, and everything of value in Lanka. Dr. Amit Have you read the “Bail out Business” report by Amsterdam’s Transnational Institute on role of KPMG, Arthur Anderson, Deloitt in the Debt crisis?!
      Sri Lanka needs a different development model that is people-centered and environmentally sustainable. Today the country’s assets and resources, from sand, water and forests, to labour is being sold off cheap to pay for the luxury life-styles of corrupt politicians of UNP and SLFP and JO and their cronies. Bi-partisan UNP-SLFP corruption with advice of foreign economic hit men is the name of the game.

    • 0
      0

      The Bond Commissioners noted that there was no allegation against PM and he was called to assist them with evidence… on what basis do you find him guilty? Strange – they should have made you one of the commissioners!!!

  • 2
    6

    Price of cocunuts have gone up. At Kurunegala a nut is available at Rs.50 and in Colombo the price is Rs.100. Here there is an arbitrage opportunity.One can make a 100% profit less transport cost by buying in Kurunegala and selling in Colombo. Opportunities arise when the market players are unaware of price variations in different markets. People at Perpetual understood this market and exploited it to the maximum. After all anybody in business will want to maximize their profits.Perpetual had a ready buyer for their products in who appear ignorant of the market. Arbitrage opportunities are available world over. One has to be smarter than others to see them.

    • 1
      0

      Not Everybody, Economic expert the Prime minister Ranil – BABA had the sole objective of cheating the country. that is why they created emergency need of funds to repair roads, when roads had not been washed away. this week one news report said ADB lends some $ 3450 million to road repair. why the Minister needs billion, 15, and 75 urgently ?. It is all pre planned . first one paid the exiting debts and the 100 day govt debts. Two other bank heists, after the 100 day govt, after won the election went to build reserves and to pay debts. Aloesius with the help of Father in LAws bought a Distillery and more. All the shares holders of the robbery were paid handsomely. Just consider the steps how Ranil Baba was defending everything in the parliament and the sequence of events like Appointing three lawyers, firs COPE etc.,

  • 9
    2

    The Prime Ministers evidence gives us an insight into the way he treats the people of this country. He has treated with contempt and disdain the sacred responsibility placed in him to run the country in the interest of its people’s. He discusses matters of paramount importance to the country casually at parties, and
    Leaves it at that while the countries coffers are emptied by bond thieves. This is like a horror story where criminals are permitted to loot and plunder, and when they get caught the Prime Minister finds faults with the law enforcement authorities. The country is going down the tube fast. Shame on the brainless yahalapana supporters.

  • 1
    0

    Mr. Muthukumaru. You say here, the PM’s “testimony” is of marginal significance. How come ?. He is the PM. Besides one definition to testimony is divine word. did not he take an OATH before it or just talking. He more than once told that certain issues he would solve within the parliament and by indirect means he told there he lied to the parliament. AG’s department is well versed with LAw. Yet, they asked for clarification and not testimony under Oath. Why that clarification itself is not corruption supported by AG ?

  • 0
    0

    Mr. Muthu kumaru: Please write your response. I think Affidavit was under oath. How was the face to face clarification, with or without Oath ? Who witnessed the signature to the affidavit ?

  • 0
    0

    Amrit – writing sensationalist stuff without all the facts… as usual…

    Do you expect the PM to have been checking shareholder registers of Perpetual?

    As for the AG, he asked the questions, aided by de Livera and Kodagoda et all who sat with him… what’s wrong with that?

    Let’s realise there was some impropriety in the bond issue. But no point going on a witch hunt against the PM for that!

    • 0
      0

      SARATH: LAJJA BAYA NAEHTI VOTERS AKAMETHI PM IS a Leech and a remora. YOu know whose blood he is sucking. HE is hanging there and not quitting and not fired because MY3 is WEAK, Ranil-baba is hanging there even in front of the whole sri lanka he used corruption to escape question by AG. that is he stayed in the position making AG obliged to PM as PM appointed AG. If PM had stepped down, the questioning would have been different. The attempt to it is all by Arjun Mahendran, we may have made mistakes are all BS. AG did not ask question. Instead asked whether PM could help clarifying. AG did not check PM’s office, emails or the telephone calls for incriminating evidence. Otherwise, Remember Arjun Mahendran told every time, ask PM, ASK PM. SO, now PM escaped Jail. Yet, he should quit if not should be fired.

  • 0
    0

    Amrit was no where to be seen during Rajapakse regime and now out in the open questioning the PM!!

    This is yahapalanaya at its best.

  • 0
    0

    Beware of western economic hitmen. Why is the US so interested now? It is because they seek an enhanced military presence. Almost weekly they “Visit” SL and make comments about the Indo-Pacific region and security and freedom of navigation. Those are not Lankan Issues. If it is piracy yes but the US is creating a puppet state in Sri Lanka to combat China for the long term future. SL has no real enemies. It can never go to war with India; besides, India is now US’s number one ally with more joint Naval military exercises with India than with any other nation. So be warned Ranil is a US acolyte. He does not care about selling Sri Lanka to Christians. Evangelical Christianity will take over Sri Lanka like they did in South Korea. Why is the US ambassador going around and butting into Lankan politics? Also do you know USAID has been used to spy on nations before although it is the non-intelligence wing of US Foreign policy? Check facts. They want to grab land and want a base in Trincomalee. They will stop at nothing to achieve this. If it means overthrowing Sirisena and annoiting Ranil they will do so.

  • 0
    0

    Regarding the appearance of RW at the CoI, Ajith Muthukumaru submits that RW is “……a model of probity worthy of emulation by world leaders……..”.
    Ajith, tell that to Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
    Since January 2017, Netanyahu is being investigated and questioned by the Israeli police. Netanyahu is suspected in allegedly obtaining inappropriately large-scale benefits from businessmen and alleged attempts to strike a deal with publisher of a newspaper group for more favorable coverage of him.
    On August 3, 2017, the police confirmed his former chief of staff, Ari Harow, has signed a deal with prosecutors to become state’s witness and testify against Netanyahu in these cases
    We, the silent Majority Lankans are not convinced as to whether the CoI is pursuing the matter with the rigour expected.

  • 0
    0

    has the commission come under pressure by sirisena to do a white wash ,because he himself is under pressure from his partner the UNP and blamed for having the commission in the first place.He had to have the commission because he was under pressure from the people.Now people pressure has eased and UNP pressure has overtaken it.Sira makes decisions under pressure only.The sudden calling of the AG who knows noting about the details of the case shows that a whitewash is on the cards.

    As far as sira is concerned the commission has fulfilled the task of taking off the pressure on his back and putting it on the culprits the UNP.Now commission can go home and have a bath as elections are round the corner and sira will need the UNP as a coalition with his 4th placed SLFP to keep out the rajapakshes from taking over the local government councils.Everone can remember how chandrika came to power through that grassroots path.sira knows if rajapakshes come back ranil will still be going on gondolas to venice while he will be dust to dust ashes to ashes.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.