By Amrit Muttukumaru –
Rotary International (RI) with a worldwide membership of around 1.2 Million in 34,000 Rotary clubs is one of the largest and most affluent NGOs in the world.
Rotary Sri Lanka is said to have about 1600 members in 61 Rotary Clubs.
RI solicits and receives massive worldwide public donations on the back of purporting to be a transparent and ethical entity. Its guiding principle is said to be its celebrated ‘Four-Way Test’ which includes ‘Is it the TRUTH?’ and ‘Is it FAIR to all concerned?’ It also claims to have a “written whistleblower policy”.
Apart from institutional donors, Rotary also receives substantial individual donations.
The Total Assets of RI as of 30 June 2013 is said to be in excess of US$ 1 BILLION.
In the aftermath of the Tsunami, Rotary Sri Lanka implemented with Tsunami donations a US $10 Million (Rupees One Billion) project captioned ‘Schools Re-awaken’ to rebuild/rehabilitate 25 Tsunami devastated schools with QUESTIONABLE ACCOUNTABILITY.
The cogent question is – does Rotary International have the INTEGRITY to be the CUSTODIAN for the massive funds it receives in TRUST?
The Rotary hierarchy in Sri Lanka and at world headquarters in the US have avoided answering mainly through FOUL MEANS amply substantiated in this exposé.
Has not Governor Nominee – Ven. Somawansa Thero by his continued SILENCE in the face of such corrupt and vicious practice, violated the Vinaya he is bound to uphold? Is it not also in conflict with the sublime precepts of METTA, KARUNA, MUDITA and UPEKKHA?
The following questions are posed to him and Rotary Sri Lanka Governor – Gowri Rajan. They are urged to respond without prevarication in the PUBLIC INTEREST.
“Private and Quiet”
1) Did not an INFLUENTIAL Rotary International Officer from Sri Lanka (‘RI OFFICER’) after breaching the mandatory Rotary ‘Code of Policies’ send an e-mail dated 27 April 2006 to then Sri Lanka District Governor with the following SCANDALOUS utterances?:
i) “keep this matter Private and quiet”
ii) “We just wanted our job done”
iii) “I had made submissions to the Trustees and Board”
2) Is not the blatant ‘COVER-UP’ far WORSE than the breach?
3) Does such an individual have the INTEGRITY to be a ROTARIAN let alone hold HIGH ROTARY OFFICE?
4) Is not the COMPLICITY of RI CONFIRMED by the SUBSEQUENT letter to the ‘RI OFFICER’ from then RI General Secretary – Ed Futa dated 15 June 2006 making the claim of a “CLERICAL ERROR” in the ‘Code of Policies’? Is this not akin to someone stating there is a “CLERICAL ERROR” in the Constitution of a country?
5) The breach of the Rotary ‘Code of Policies’ in this instance relates to the prohibition of obtaining funding from ‘GAMBLING’ institutions.
RI ‘Oversight Committee’
1) Was it not the said ‘RI OFFICER’ who RECOMMENDED a Past Governor – a Senior Chartered Accountant to a crucial RI ‘Oversight Committee’ notwithstanding he being faulted for PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT together with the other Partners of his erstwhile audit firm by the (i) Supreme Court (ii) Parliament’s COPE (iii) Attorney-General – in relation to the fraudulent privatization of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation?
1) Was it not the said Member of a crucial RI ‘Oversight Committee’/ Senior Chartered Accountant who shockingly endorsed ‘MISCELLANEOUS’ expense of 22.78 % in the ‘Expense Report’ 2013-14 of the Immediate Past Governor of Rotary Sri Lanka?
2) Did he not inter alia claim it is “in accordance with the established policies of RI”?
Ref. His ‘Report’ dated 8 November 2014
3) Does this not COMPROMISE the FINANCIAL INTEGRITY of RI?
4) Is not his position in a crucial RI ‘Oversight Committee’ UNTENABLE? His term expires on 30 June 2016.
Tsunami US $10 Million: Accountability
1) In the aftermath of the Tsunami, did not Rotary Sri Lanka with donor funds design a US $10 Million (Rupees One Billion) project captioned ‘Schools Re-awaken’ to rebuild/rehabilitate 25 Tsunami devastated schools under the leadership of the ‘RI OFFICER’?
2) Since Millions of Dollars were donated to Rotary trusting its integrity for the benefit of those affected by the Tsunami, should not ACCOUNTABILITY apart from the DONORS be also to the GENERAL PUBLIC and ALL ROTARIANS in Sri Lanka?
3) Was it not IRRESPONSIBLE for the Chairman of the project (‘RI OFFICER’) to claim in his e-mail of 31 March 2010 to a then member that accountability is only to the 13 member ‘Trust’ headed by him?
“Unfortunately they cannot be approved at a District Rotary meeting as you suggest because they can only be passed at the AGM of the Schools Trust which includes other non Rotary bodies.”
4) Is not accountability merely to the 13 member “Schools Trust” dominated by a coterie of Rotarians (with at least 9 members) wholly UNACCEPTABLE due to the obvious ‘CONFLICT OF INTEREST’ since this coterie ‘implements’ the project and for all practical purposes ‘approves’ its own work with the CEO/Project Director and the Chairman (‘RI OFFICER’) all being part of this coterie of Rotarians?
5) Should not the 13 member ‘Trust’ apart from duly informing donors (i) have the audited accounts of the completed project and notes to the accounts after due notice approved by the membership of Rotary Sri Lanka? (ii) have the same placed in the newspapers for the perusal of the general public? (iii) have the same placed on the Rotary Sri Lanka website?
Has this been done? If not why?
Legitimacy of ‘Quorum’
1) On the basis of:
(i) Article 9 Section 5 of then applicable ‘Standard Rotary Club Constitution’
(ii) Article iv Section 3 of then Bylaws of the Rotary Club of Colombo
(iii) ‘Attendance Sheet’ of 2 August 2007 of the Rotary Club of Colombo,
Please CONFIRM there was a LEGITIMATE QUORUM when the said ‘RI OFFICER’ was nominated by the Rotary Club of Colombo to a CRUCIAL position in Rotary International on 2 August 2007?
1) Was not my Rotary membership ‘TERMINATED’ TWICE – (a) the first time after I questioned the alleged breach of the Rotary ‘Code of Policies’ by the ‘RI OFFICER’? (b) the second time after I questioned the legitimacy of the ‘quorum’ in the nomination of the ‘RI OFFICER’ to a crucial position in RI?
i) Were these ‘terminations’ lawful?
ii) Does not the letter of ‘Termination’ dated 27 November 2007 underline the sheer VICIOUSNESS of those concerned since it is based on taking issues outside the club described as a “misconduct” – not withstanding no Rotary regulation prohibiting the same? Does this not fly in the face of Rotary International claiming to have a “written whistleblower policy”?
iii) Does this conform to Rotary’s ‘Four-Way Test’ which includes ‘Is it the TRUTH?’ and ‘Is it FAIR to all concerned?’
2) Although the Rotary Club of Colombo has NO RIGHT to DEVIATE from the RI ‘Standard Rotary Club Constitution’, did not its hierarchy (which included the ‘RI OFFICER’) ALLOW the umpire at the arbitration to blatantly rule – “RI in fact states that the constitution it adopts in the MOP is a SAMPLE and individual clubs can modify them as per their requirements within a similar framework.” Ref. “Decision of the Umpire” dated 17 April 2008. (emphasis added)
Can the RI ‘Standard Rotary Club Constitution’ in the Manual of Procedure (MOP) under any circumstances be a “SAMPLE”? If not – is not my ‘termination’ UNLAWFUL?
1) Did not the influential ‘RI OFFICER’ sue me in October 2007 for RS. 100 MILLION for alleged ‘defamation’?
2) On his initiative did he not ‘SETTLE’ the case after more than 6 YEARS on 31 January 2014 on IDENTICAL undertakings given by BOTH PARTIES?
3) I demanded RECIPROCITY to expose the FALSITY of the ‘defamation’ charge.
4) Was not the ‘SETTLEMENT’ in the context of the ‘Trial ‘proper not commencing since the ‘RI OFFICER’ (i) Did not ‘Testify’? (ii) Witnesses were not called?
5) What does this convey about the TRUTHFULNESS and MOTIVE of the alleged ‘defamation’ charge?
6) On the EVE of the ‘RI OFFICER’ settling his case, did not the Member of a crucial RI ‘Oversight Committee’/ Senior Chartered Accountant sue me for the same amount (Rs. 100 Million) for alleged ‘defamation’?
7) Is not his alleged ‘defamation’ based on the LUDICROUS premise that the use of the words “conflicting interests” by the Supreme Court does not tantamount to the words “Professional Misconduct” used by me vis-à-vis the fraudulent privatization of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation? It is likely that similar to the ‘RI OFFICER’ he too will not ‘Testify’!
1) Was I not arbitrarily removed (after 6 months) from the position of ‘Assistant Governor’ (to which position I was invited by the then District Governor) WITHIN A MONTH of my raising the alleged violation of the mandatory Rotary ‘Code of Policies’ by the ‘RI OFFICER’ on the premise that an individual Rotarian cannot raise issues OUTSIDE his club and that only the club could do so! Does this not contradict the RI claim of having a “written whistleblower policy”?
1) Was not a purported ‘RESOLUTION’ – “to unreservedly and unequivocally admonish and censure” me and “that at no time in the future will any club in Sri Lanka admit” me to Rotary membership introduced in the presence of the ‘RI OFFICER’ at the 20th District Assembly held on 16 May 2010 without due notice, without due process and in my ABSENCE? Is this consistent with NATURAL JUSTICE? Was it not questionably claimed to have been “Approved by unanimous vote”?
2) Why has my request to the District leadership to substantiate the purported “unanimous vote” with “independent evidence” not materialized to date? (Ref. my e-mail of 31 May 2010 to then District Governor).
3) Could such draconian measures also have the objective to intimidate and silence other members?
In the context of the above which includes his scandalous “keep this matter Private and quiet” e-mail of 27 April 2006 and frivolous ‘defamation’ allegation , how sincere was the ‘RI OFFICER’:
1) When few months back he told a large audience which included the RI hierarchy:
“I believe that we have to find a way to bring back the fundamentals that built our organization: the emphasis on HIGH ETHICAL STANDARDS in all aspects of our lives”? (emphasis added)
2) When more recently in your presence he referred to selfless iconic personalities such as Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King in his address to a huge Rotary audience which included the RI hierarchy?
Other issues include:
1) Were not two Past District Governors of Rotary Sri Lanka in PRISON on remand and currently on bail for the alleged embezzlement of Rs.17.8 million out of Rs.28.1 million of Tsunami donor funds received from AES Kelanitissa (Pvt.) Limited (subsidiary of Hayleys Plc) amounting to a whopping 60% of the donation?
(Ref. “Probe into Rs.17.8 million fraud at Rotary Club” – ‘Daily Mirror’ 28 July 2012)
In the context of the Tsunami striking Sri Lanka in December 2004 and most donations presumably received soon after, did not these two members hold District office as late as (2011-12)?
Was the KPMG Forensic Report of this alleged fraud circulated to members? If not why?
Why was the claimed complaint to the CID made only in June 2012? What is its current status?
2) Has not the Commission to Investigate into Allegations of Bribery or Corruption “filed” a “report” at the “Colombo Chief Magistrate Court” alleging that two Past District Governors were involved in “corruption” at the state owned National Lotteries Board?
(Ref. “Former Lotteries Board Chief charged for corruption” – ‘Daily FT’ 31 October 2012)
What is its current status?
3) Was not a serving club President as per un-contradicted media report allegedly “fined Rs. 10,000 for tapping electricity illegally on pleading guilty to the charge.”? Was not this person ALLOWED to complete his term?
(Ref. ‘Sunday Island’ 6 December 2009)
Is it not evident the ‘defamatory’ cases are a ploy to INTIMIDATE and HARASS to PREVENT EXPOSURE of egregious wrongdoing? Do they not also serve as a WARNING to others?
Is not the ‘Settlement’ after more than 6 years on IDENTICAL undertakings given by both parties without the Plaintiff ‘testifying’ indicative of the FRIVOLOUS nature of the alleged ‘defamation’?
I agreed to the ‘settlement’ due to – legal costs, time wasted and the hassle of frequent visits to Hulftsdorf.
The RI OFFICER’S instructing attorneys are the lawyers to his Public ‘quoted’ company of which he is Managing Director and a substantial shareholder! A director of his company – a Senior Chartered Accountant, is the Chairman of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (of alleged “billing for un-held workshops” ‘fame’!)
I believe this issue has to be confronted ‘HEAD-ON’ since otherwise it could set a DANGEROUS PRECEDENCE where all an alleged wrongdoer has to do is file legal action to intimidate and harass to thwart exposure!
I urge you to respond WITHOUT PREVARICATION in the PUBLIC INTEREST since Rotary International solicits and receives massive worldwide public donations on the back of purporting to be a transparent and ethical entity.
1) Does the said influential ‘RI OFFICER’ have the INTEGRITY to be a ROTARIAN let alone hold HIGH ROTARY OFFICE? Issues to be considered include his damning “keep this matter Private and quiet” e-mail dated 27 April 2006 and his frivolous/vicious ‘defamation’ allegation.
2) Was there a legitimate ‘quorum’ when the said ‘RI OFFICER’ was nominated by the Rotary Club of Colombo to a CRUCIAL position in Rotary International on 2 August 2007?
3) Does the Senior Chartered Accountant concerned have the INTEGRITY to be a Member of a crucial RI ‘Oversight Committee’? His term expires on 30 June 2016. Matters to be considered include (i) his Professional Misconduct confirmed inter alia by the Supreme Court (ii) his approval of ‘miscellaneous’ expense of 22.78 %.
4) Accountability to the PUBLIC of Sri Lanka for the US $10 Million (Rupees One Billion) ‘Schools Re-awaken’ project.
5) Action against Immediate Past Governor of Rotary Sri Lanka for his ‘Expense Report’ 2013-14 having ‘miscellaneous’ expense of 22.78 %.
6) Is the purported ‘RESOLUTION’ – “to unreservedly and unequivocally admonish and censure” me and “that at no time in the future will any club in Sri Lanka admit” me to Rotary membership:
ii) Does it conform to ‘Natural Justice’?
7) Was the ‘termination’ of my Rotary membership lawful?
(i) Is it consistent with the ‘Four-Way Test’ which includes ‘Is it the TRUTH?’ and ‘Is it FAIR to all concerned?’
(ii) Is it consistent with RI’s “written whistleblower policy”?
Although I am not enamoured at being a Rotarian under the current dispensation, I seek justice on a matter of principle.
8) Is it not evident the ‘defamatory’ cases are a RUSE to ‘intimidate’ and ‘harass’ to PREVENT EXPOSURE of egregious wrongdoing? Do they not also serve as a WARNING to others?
9) To duly inform the members of Rotary Sri Lanka and Rotary International of ‘Other Issues’ which include: Two Past District Governors of Rotary Sri Lanka said to have been in PRISON on remand and currently on bail for alleged embezzlement.