21 September, 2018

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RTI Commission Orders People’s Bank To Disclose Money Spent To Defend Digitization Scam!

Sri Lanka’s Right to Information Commission has directed the People’s Bank to disclose the total amount of legal fees paid by the Bank to retain private lawyers to defend a legal action against members of the Ceylon Bank Employees Trade Union who had protested against a massive digitization scam by the Bank’s management.

People’s Bank Chairman -Hemasiri Fernando

The Union’s request has been upheld by the Commission on the basis that the Public Authority is effectively utilizing public funds in regard to which transparency and accountability of the highest standard must be reflected and that public interest is reflected in regard to the decision. 

Rejecting the argument of the Bank that professional privilege and fiduciary concerns will block the giving of that information, the Commission’s Order has based its decision on international and regional legal principles discussed in detail. It  has pointed out that, as the Bank’s Annual Report anyway discloses the total value of litigation engaged in by the PA, there need not be secrecy in respect of the information asked for.  

The RTI Commission has commented sharply on the fact that the Designate Officer of the Bank had not responded on the appeal by the Union filed under Section 31 of the Act and has said that this cannot be excused on the ground of mere advertence. The Commission has stated that this amounts to bypassing a statutory duty on the part of the DO as detailed in Sections 31 (2) and (3) of the Act. 

Its Order states that ‘it is unfortunate that a state banking institution such as the PA, as named in this appeal, has treated mandatory duties imposed by legislation in such an indifferent manner. This stands in sharp contrast to the manner in which other PAs, including key banking institutions, have carried out their obligations in terms of the Act.’ 

A public outcry was created in recent months by disclosures of major financial irregularities at the Peoples Bank. The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) had ordered details to be given of massive expenditure incurred on a digitization project of the Bank including expenses payments totaling Rs 84 Million. COPE had also criticized the fact that the top management of the Bank had been operating on contract basis for close to fifteen years with perks and benefits.

Media reports said that out of the loans issued by the Bank totaling Rs 38,000 million in 2017, a large percentage had been non-performing. The Bank was also pulled up by COPE for paying Rs 75 million as salary increments arrears to General Manager, N. Vasantha Kumara and a former Senior Deputy General Manager and had refused to authorize the extension of the General Manager.

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Latest comments

  • 23
    0

    Why are Sri Lankans in top positions much more greedy for money than the poor people begging for food by the roadside? Who are the real beggars?

  • 21
    0

    Who are the real beggars? Super-duper question, Ajay.

    These pot bellied politikkos and their henchmen in public service, business sector and banking sector, of course!

  • 11
    0

    The hired lawyers certainly did NOT keep their fees in the so-called “some” Peoples’ Bank, it can be surmised.
    Skimming state funds on various pretexts, is now a “fine art” – even on ‘religious’ grounds – eg. the Sil Rethi purchase.
    There is no law against it.
    The RTI & COPE can go and jump in the Lake Beira as far as they, the judiciary and the government are concerned.

    Sri Lanka has reached the top ( or, is it bottom) of corruption.

  • 1
    13

    RTI is disasterous for the country. Tamils will have access to what happened during the war using RTI and justify war crimes. Only way to protect our war heroes is to eliminate the RTI , so what happened during the war goes along with other dead people and stays that way.

    • 2
      0

      New King has ordered all three rapist force Commanders not to issue any information needed to investigate the cases like Keith, Lasantha, 11 Tamils boys, Thajudeen…….
      What the RTI can do, in that case? Peoples Bank president has just call the Executive President. Then it will be over. .

    • 0
      1

      Jim,
      What is there to hide. Do you want Buddhism to do the legal job of punishing the people who exceeded authority and killed citizens by way of paying for bad karma this birth next birth and many more to come.

      • 0
        0

        If you look at the history of Sri Lanka Budhism has always assumed the legal duty.

    • 0
      0

      Be aware that Defence matters does not come under RTI. Do not panic War Heroes are always war heroes. A war hero will not do silly things. He will stand tall and will be respected and honoured by all.

  • 11
    0

    the chairman is new chief of staff of the president so he is above the law

  • 1
    8

    The recent attacks on Peoples Bank and its Senior Management is instigated by a DGM who is a supporter of JVP and is trying to be the top executive of the Bank with the support of JVP. Only after the present senior management took over the Bank it started making profits. JVP acting like this is shameful. Its time this DGM is taken to task.

  • 3
    0

    Use-by-date of COPE was decided by a ‘strong leadership’ and rendered toothless.
    .
    RTI was expected to be a nuisance but is turning out to be a menace. Must be euthanised.
    Hemasiri Fernando has been chosen to stifle RTI. After he learns to wear the new hat pointing the right way, he will set about it.
    .
    Immediate action: Dayan Dayan Dayan. Where are you? Or where the hell are you? Somehow tie up TNA with the “People’s Bank ……… Money Spent To Defend Digitization Scam”! Only you can!.

  • 7
    0

    Why can’t they sack the rogue Jehan Amarathunge from the People’s Bank director baorad. Is it because all are rogues?

  • 5
    0

    It is sad to note that the entire state banking sector, starting from the Central Bank, has been affected by a malaise of bad governance when it should have been otherwise. All those who voted for a change, like me, starting from Jan 8, 2015, seem to be paying a very high price, judging from the financial blood-sucking that is reported.

  • 1
    0

    We Sri Lankans are culturally accepting of criminality and corruption if it is one of ‘ours’. The expectation is that it will eventually trickle down to me!
    How many of the complainers have pulled Strings to get their children into good schools?
    How many have pulled panda to get their child a job?
    How many have found a catcher to help get something done, from the inside!
    If you have done any of these illegal, you have no business complaining about anything.

    • 1
      0

      Do you mean the life in Lankawe is “Day time write in CT; night time work with Yahapalanaya” ?

  • 5
    0

    Jehan Amarathunga has been given a Rs 10 billion loan while being a director of People’s Bank. His company could not show sufficient security for the loan. He tries to prosper through public money. The irony is that People’s Bank will go bankrupt not now but in 5-10 years when he defaults. Jehan Amarathunga will live in luxury in a western country while the Bank will be closed down. Sack Hemasiri Fernando for approving the loan. This is a clear FCID matter for the next government.

  • 4
    0

    Sack Jehan Amarathunge from the People’s Bank board today, not tomorrow

  • 2
    0

    Menaka

    They will never sack Jehan Amarathunge knowing that whole lot will have to go home including Eran.

    Rs 10 billion is the biggest ever loan People’s bank has ever given. Surely People’s Bank will go bankrupt one of these days.

  • 0
    0

    What some have not understood is that its not a sin or illegal to be on the board of a Bank when a company one is a director borrows money from that bank. The bank is expected to evaluate properly before granting facilities, Collateral depends on the strength of the client. At times it could be clean. Large corporates want give collateral to borrow because all banks are behind them seeking business.

  • 0
    0

    this jehan amarathunge is involved in a Rs 2 company, how can that company give collateral for such an enormous bank loan as Rs 10 billion?

    • 0
      0

      The capital of Bank of England is one Stg. pound. First check the assets and liabilities of the company before commenting.

  • 0
    0

    Looks like Jehan Amarathunge himself writing as Upali. he he he he he he he he

  • 3
    0

    As there is already the powerful President’s Secretary there does not need a Chief of Staff. But this Sirisena is not thrifty. Also he is looking for a Gamini Senarath type character to pilfer public funds. And he found the right man in Hemasiri Fernando – a carbon copy of Gamini Senarath.

  • 0
    0

    Peoples Bank established by Late Mr.T.B.Illangaratne to cater to poor people of the country see what they are doing now? founder Chairman late Mr.Vincent Subasinghe worked without a salary even for bank official trips abroad he used his own money without touching public money.
    Why this country lack honest people like Mr.Subasinghe?.

  • 0
    0

    Why only Digitization Scam ? what about the marketing budgets spending ? paying millions to Chairman’s close friend’s advertising agency.

  • 0
    0

    Digitization is the only way forward, having said that… by all means check if the money was well spent on the said program!
    I would be far more concerned about the rise in NPL’s (Non Performing Loans) to a figure close to 10% when the industry average is less than HALF that!!
    Should not the ‘outcry’ be more focused on that! Or is there some dumb trade union opposing the Digitization programme out of the ignorance of job security concerns!
    If state banks do not keep up with technology at the same pace as private banks- they will be left behind!!!!

  • 0
    0

    Kirinde you are spot on. Another Gamini Senarath is in the making.

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