Former Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake was completely exposed during evidence yesterday after all officials of the State Banks said that they were lied to by the Minister regarding the Bond auctions.
Eight witnesses from the Bank of Ceylon (BoC), the National Savings Bank (NSB) and People’s Bank including the Chairmen gave evidence on events leading up to the two auctions, all of whom attested to two separate meetings chaired by the former Minister on 28 March and 30 March 2016, instructing them to bid low.
The officials said that much to their surprise and despite assurance that no one bidding higher would be given the deal by Karunanayake, Perpetual Treasuries bid higher and were granted the lion share of the auctioned bids.
The officers said that this was the first time such instructions was given by a Minister of Finance.
Testifying further the Chairmen and other high ranking officials said that they were instructed by the Minister and the Central Bank to recruit certain individuals to the treasury departments of the Banks.
One such culprit was Naveen Anuradha who featured extensively as one of the wheeler dealers together with Chief Dealer of EPF Saman Kumara, both whom were stationed at their respective places by Arjuna Mahendran and Ravi Karunanayake.
NSB Head of Treasury Division N.P. Lionel testifying before the Commission explained how the “game was played”.
Describing the appointment of Naveen Anuradha to the NSB, the witness said that there was a requirement for a dealer to the NSB as they wanted to expand the trading activities. Naveen Anuradha had been appointed to the NSB on February 1, 2015.
The witness said that there was an experienced dealer called Abeysinghe who had been working at that time at the NSB, but Naveen Anuradha had been appointed directly as the Chief Dealer.
ASG De Livera: Did he give you any advice?
W: Yes he told me to inform him before I do deals.
ASG: What did you tell then?
W: I said I don’t care about you. I will do what I want. And I informed this immediately to the higher authority of the bank and told that I cannot work with him.
ASG: Then what happened.
W: My dealing capacity of Rs. 1 billion had been withdrawn and I could not deal thereafter.
ASG: What did he talk with you in the dealing room.
W: He had said that he (Naveen Anuradha) has relationships with Mr. Ravi Karunanayake.
When Justice Prasanna Jayawardena asked as to what Naveen Anuradha was doing in the dealing activities at the NSB, the witness said that Naveen Anuradha had increased the volume of trading with Perpetual Treasuries Ltd, Pan Asia Bank and Acuity Securities.
Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: Did those activities of Naveen Anuradha result in NSB gaining more profits compared to other times?
W: No the profits were the same.
Earlier it was revealed that Saman Kumara was put to the EPF dealing room by Arjun Mahendran.
The AGs department suspended the Cross Examination of Arjun Mahendran to bring the new witnesses in after Mahendran insisted that he was not aware of anything untoward happening.
Mahnedran, giving evidence on a phone conversation on March 29, between Aloysius and Kasun Palisena which clearly indicated the former possessed inside information dismissed the conversation as “false bravado”.
However, the damning evidence given by the Officials put to rest that Aloysius had in fact had all relevant information regarding the meetings which took place prior to the bond auctions at which the Minister had told the Banks to bid at a lower rate.