22 September, 2017

Snubbing Illegal Orders Without Compromising Integrity

By Nagananda Kodituwakku

Nagananda Kodituwakku

As a former public officer who had learnt extremely hard way as to how to face similar situations, I thought it is nothing but right to share my experience which I believe would be useful to public servants today, provided they want to be independent without compromising their integrity.

In the year 2001 I was the Head of the Customs Revenue Task Force. I was appointed to conduct a revenue fraud inquiry involving ‘The Finance Company’, Arjuna Ranatunga’s family and Arvinda de Silva as suspects. By then, Arjuna’s father was a minister in the Cabinet of the President CBK. The crux of the issue in brief, is as follows. 

For promotion of tourism the Koggala Beach Hotel had been issued with 3 tax-free car permits to import high valued luxury vehicles, which it had sold to the people mentioned above and there was admission made by the General Manager of the Hotel conceding to the selling of 3 permits. 

When the matter came up before me for the inquiry both ‘The Fnance Co’ and Aravinda de Silva pleaded guilty and they were dealt with according to law, imposing penalties and forfeitures running into over 4 million rupees for each vehicle. However, in Arjuna’s case his wife Mrs Samadara Ranatunga had been made to claim the responsibility and I had to face a terrible situation as an order coming from the, then President CBK to let them free. And I was ordered to comply with it by the, then Director General of Customs (DGC), Janak Gunarathna, with an order made to suspend the inquiry. 

The case was called on 06th Aug 2001 and the suspects in the case appeared at the inquiry believing that it would not be proceeded as per the guarantee by the President CBK, herself. When the inquiry was commenced around 2.00 pm, there was a phone call from the DGC asking as to how I was going to deal with the mater and I informed him that I would call him back. And went ahead with the inquiry with out replacing the receiver. 

I had a good officer named Nandana Perera, Superintend of Customs, who was directed to conduct the prosecution and inquiry was conducted from start to finish with the same order made around 5.00 pm as in the two cases. 

I am aware that the DGC, Janak Gunarathna was summoned before the President CBK and he was found fault with for not complying with her order. And in tern the DGC severely reprimanded me for rejecting the unlawful came from the President that would have resulted in a loss of government revenue running into over Rs 4,000,000.00. 

I had a terrible time after performing my duty as a committed public servant performed the office faithfully according to my conciencconstitutional obligation to the people. Some time thereafter President CBK called for the inquiry record and mitigated the penalty to Rs 1,000.000.00. 

This story also demonstrates that corruption is an incurable decease in this country, which has been institutionalized in the government business, irrespective of the political party in power. 

Readers are invited to refer to the full story reported in the Parliamentary Hansard dated 09th Oct 2001 where number of MPs in the then opposition reveal the story in detail, accusing the then President CBK, Minister Reggie Ranatunga and Finance Secretary P B Jayasundara for condoning corruption

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Latest comments

  • 11
    2

    Mr. Naganada Kodithuwakku: CBK and the cohorts responsible should be prosecuted. But, have somebody ever complain to the courts about this. CBK is a well known thief. I think MY3 is silent because CBK is pulling thr strings. I think MY3 also should step down. because, it looks he is not pushing anything. I heard, CBK has stolen money even from Nahapola. There are people at the top who knows all about those. I heard it is CBK who wants Mattala airpot to be given to India.

  • 22
    1

    Such a nice officer and a gentleman….
    Such a patriotic Srilankan
    Mother Srilanka will cry secretly for loosing a such an honest person .
    We are all blindfolded and taken on a ride by the rulers of this beautiful country.

    • 14
      2

      There is no doubt men and women of Nagananda Kodituwakku’s caliber should be in the forefront in an eventual 2020 struggle by civil society to to unseat SLFP & UNP scumbags at the top. Rantunga family’s name figure everywhere related to corruption and thuggery. Arjuna should never be allowed to run SL Cricket. He will be far worse than corrupt Sumathipala.
      Cheers!

  • 16
    0

    Corruption is prevalence and rampant in Sri Lankan politics, specially among the leaders. MR King was and is the king of it all. Most of JO members benefitted from that corruption and is hell bent on bringing THE king back to power by hook or by crook. This is to bury trace of their misdeeds and to continue to benefit themselves from the public purse and keep the ignorant voters at bay. SLTB, government funded TV channels and institutions to name a few lost billions due to the merciless robbery of these enemies of the state. The public servants have a duty towards the public as explained and honestly acted by Mr Kodithuwakku. Sensible public must praise and hail honest public servants of the calibre of Mr Kodithuwakku and name and shame the public robbers of all the previous governments.

  • 5
    8

    All Horagolla lands was that belongs poor villages of Siyna Koral by Tamil decedents of Banadarakes clan that support by British colonial Powers, during that time plundered thousands— acres of land by generation of Banadarakes ?
    The poor people properties acquired and extended by Solomon Dias Banadarake, then transfer to SWRD and their children’s ?
    These proprieties was not belongs them, who are came from Indian Tamils?
    Now this Tamil descends of these CBK and Sunaratha B….called their are from very rich families .
    What a political nonsense?
    Their children are who belongs class of plunders and exploiters of Sri Lankan land by heredity of Tamil bloods ?
    How can they become love for the Country Nation and the people of Sinhalese ?
    On what grounds?
    Now ,that CBK want Federalist State is quite obvious she has proven without doubt that she is pure decedent of Tamil Blood ?

    • 5
      1

      Somehow you managed to make a story about corruption and not following illegal orders into a Sinhala/Tamil issue. Oh well.

    • 3
      0

      amaradasa,don’t be stupid. The Nayakkars are not tamil,they are telugu from andra pradash.During the vijaya nagar empire period the chief tax collectors were given nayakkar titles and sent to all parts of the empire to collect taxes.

  • 4
    0

    Will justice ever be done. The laws delay is a conspiracy by political, legal and enforcement arm of the country, and will continue while the two major parties are in power. They either twist the facts or arrange the the course of justice to the point of frustration. Finally to be sent to the crematorium to be forgotten in time. The way the inquiry of the bond scam is revealing evidence is becoming more and more gruesome by the day, and the administrators of justice is struggling to achieve it. What a show.

  • 7
    0

    Why don’t the likes of you in this country get together and start a political movement to enlighten the masses of the rot that lies beneath their view and throw a challenge that the honest people in this country are capable of turning this country around.
    It is with deep regret that I wish to place on record here that I have met so many who say that they wish they die rather than have to go on living in this country, and some who say that they wish they will never be reborn in this country.
    Being a citizen of this country from 1950 and not having left this country since then, I too agree with their sentiments without any reservations whatsoever.

  • 6
    0

    It takes courage to resist undue pressure from those with power and ‘connections’; and Mr Kodithuwakku had it.
    The way things have been since Dharmishta Society was pronounced in 1977, Mr Kodithuwakku should consider himself fortunate to have been spared dismissal and charge-sheeting on some trumped up offence– or even worse.
    All said, here is one for all state officials to emulate.

    • 7
      0

      The problem is when it comes to morality, rights, duties and entitlements, there are conflicts between individuals rather than mutual consent to deal with a situation to ensure justice and fairness.
      That I believe is the reason for people’s reluctance to keep a low profile and not take courage to join individuals like Mr. Kodithuwakku to deal with corruption etc.

  • 3
    1

    Holy crap and loads of it.
    The Iorn is Hot………………………………………… What are we talking here?

    There took place a broad day light robbery called the “Bond Scam” within 08 weeks of Yahapalanaya.
    Another robbery before eyes of the masses took place just after 11 months of the ‘EPF scam”

    Minister in Charge of the Central Bank is none other than PM Ranil Wickremesinghe.
    Iorn is Hot. lets settle these two first in stead of going around the Mulberry Bush……….

    The Third Scam issue of contract to a Japanese firm building a part of the Highway bubbling
    and this same PM Ranil attempting to justify it…………………….
    Are the voters taken for suckers ????????????????????

    PM Ranil should by now in the Company of Lalith.W, Anusha.P and Sarana Gunawardene and MY3 should be visiting the inmate with his trade mark Banana leaf Rice packet.

    Instead, he happens to be the PM of the Country even as of today.

  • 4
    0

    The ever courageous Nagananda is telling us one of his his experience as a GoSL public servant.
    Reminds us of “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” – a novel written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    The plea in the Weeratunge/Palpita case was “Executing orders from above”. The court rejected it but…………. This plea may be made legal! Watch this space.
    Will other senior present and past public servants tell us your experience?
    Even Ministers? Are you there Arjuna?

  • 1
    6

    Well Done Mr.Kodituwakku. Your revelation after 16 years is astounding. It would have been better still if it is was done in 2001 but then you could not do so as you were the Head of the CTF. The perks must have been too much and also you must have been “scared”
    Did you think of resigning ? No. Why ? Your job was too important and may have been lucrative.
    This is the biggest problem. We all talk but we do not stand up for it.
    When the time is right and there is nothing scary about the environment, then the worms come out of the woodwork to get some fame.
    It is that people like you are doing exactly what the politicians are doing. Adding fuel into fire. Doing things when it is ONLY advantageous to you. Taking advantage of people who react mostly to the news that is in today’s newspaper without checking the authenticity, morality or the facts. Logic is not with the masses. So all exploit it
    Have a good one on the 12th at the Library.

    • 2
      0

      Dear Waduge,

      Your sarcasm is both unfair and misplaced. There are things that an individual can do, and others that he dare not because we all have to balance what we see as possible, and, on the other with the need to survive, but without aiding and abetting a dishonest PROCESS.

      Nagananda is not claiming here that he was heroic. He has outlined here a way in which the relatively small man can still act with integrity. Yes, he had to safeguard his job. He depended on it to sustain his family.

      .

      He is not like your politician who claims to have always been a hero. Chandrika acted like the politician she was and is. That fine ought not to have been reduced. I cannot discount ALL the stories of corruption that I have heard of her, but then she’ s a person whom I have never even met. However, I have supported her with my vote, because, more than any other politician who actually got elected she stood a.gainst racism. So, I ga e her strategic support.

      Insignificant guys like me may be abit timorous.

    • 1
      0

      Continuation

      .

      Dear Waduge,

      The defence I have given may not be the best, but since, after a full day nobody has countered you, I put the foregoing in while precariously perched in an SLTB bus, using a Tablet that has neither spell-check nor predictve text.

      .

      I am faced with a similar problem when wondering how to vote in the near future at local elections. Vote for sure losers or vote for Maithri’s people despkte the disappoitments.

      I don’t pretend that I am a great guy.

      • 0
        0

        Trying to make sure no confusion is caused by my gravatar. I’m sending this from my desk-top computer after my six hour bus ride.

        *

        Also may I commend to you the observation of Agnos, below: it may be that we should have Nagananda running for President. Why not? He has credibility, courage and judgement!

        I thought somebody else had also suggested Nagananda for 2020, but I can’t find it, but here’s what some people may find useful to research:

        https://www.facebook.com/nagananada/posts/1919429568300027

    • 2
      0

      Mr Nagananda Kodituwakku performed his duty as a public officer and conducted a proper investigation.
      …………..
      You can’t ask anything more. As public officers working under superiors, it’s not their duty to be reformers.
      …………..
      Well done Mr Kodituwakku.
      …………..
      In places like SL, no good deed/job goes unpunished, as you have found out.
      ………..
      Most appreciate your courageous work and wish you well. Godspeed.

  • 0
    1

    Shanker>>> your comment
    I know that Banadarakaye s decedents are not belongs to House of Nanyakera’a families of Telugme .
    The Banadaraleys they are from that Indian most poorest families in the southern Indian Tamils?
    India having 6400 castes, the descends of Bandarakeys Tamil-origin has goes to most lower level of castes that defined by ethics groups in Southern India?
    After migration to Island of that several decades and years after these Tamils family are by mix marriages of Govi Gama Cast ,later shifted Buddhist by SWRD that they had been kinking upstarts to HIGH Cast of Govigama then to turn into KBG!!!!!
    The being politically administration of central state since 1956 by SWRD Banadaryake & family think they are Junkers of Sri Lankan political landscape?
    They( BANADARAKEYS) are by products of Sri Lankan civilization of which is result of that Taste of changes that goes to the Benefits theory of Political power.

  • 6
    0

    Mr. Kodituwakku should find like-minded people and form a new party. That party should run for President, or at least the CM of a province.

    The anti-corruption party by the name Aam Admi Party ( AAP) was somewhat successful in Delhi, India, though the BJP wave later overshadowed it. Let there be such a movement in SL and let it learn from the mistakes of AAP.

    I think when people have real honesty and integrity, they can also find a just way to address the justice for war crimes, bring the issues to a close and find reconciliation, and let the country find a path to progress and prosperity for all.

  • 2
    0

    Govt. Public servants should form a forum and maintain their dignity and stick to their obligation amidst present chaos.

    NK deserves appreciation for the correct decisions made.

  • 4
    0

    “ … If one ought to be vocal for enlightening the ignorant, keeping mum is an unpardonaable injustice”. Plato

    Since I consider it as my bounden duty to come out with my perception of Mr.Nagananda Kodituwakku, at a juncture, where malicious and misconceived allegations are being made against him alleging that he was a dishonest customs officer, purpose of this short note is to rebut those unfounded and baseless allegations.

    I came to associate him in my official capacity as an immediate supervising officer to him from the time I assumed duties as the Additional Landing Survyor attached to the the Export Office of the Customs Head Office in Colombo in the 1980s. One of the many function I had to perform as the Head of the Export Division of the Customs was to authenticate payments of Duty Rebates to the exporters who were importing clothes and re-exporting them as made garments. As most of the fraudulent exporters, instead of exporting made garments out of the imported fabrics (that time chargeable at the rate 100% duty), they were in the habit of disposing the fabrics in the open market and thereby not only earning unduly profits at the expense of the State Revenue but also claiming Duty Rebates as the made garments had duly exported.

    These fraudulent claims could not have been made without the connivance of some the officers of the Customs as well as the Air Line officers who had issued ficticious documents to the effect that made up garments had been duly exported by those fraudulent exporters. Mr. Kodituwakku who made discreet inquiries into this racket was ablen to expose Eight Hundred and Thirty six (Rs 836,000,000.00) Million rupees worth fraudulent Duty Rebate claimed and paid by the Treasury. The Swiss Air Line officers attached to Colombo were involved in conniving this massive fraud. The regional officer in charge of Swiss Airline officer who flew from Singapore to see me concerning the fraudulent actions of Swiss air staff admitted taht the DC8 air craft operated from Colombo could not air lifted as the volumes the bogus shipments were well beyond the cargo carrying capaciy of the air craft.

    cont…

  • 5
    0

    Part 2
    After couple of months of this detection made by Mr. Kodituwakku, Swiss Air line officers had been not only duly dealt by the Swiss Airline officers but Swiss Airline also ceased to funcation in Sri Lanka, since then Swiss air never operated to and from Colombo.

    Some of the leading fraudulent garment exporters could not buy over Mr. Kodituwakku fabricated a bribery case against him so as to eliminate him from Customs so as to continue them to engsged in the organised revenue frauds. However, Mr.H.B. Disanayaka, one time Principal Collector of Customs, in his capacity as the Deputy Secretary to the Secretary then, Mr. P.Weerasekara, in his capacity as the Principal Collector of Customs then and I myself in my capacity supervising officer of Mr. Kodituwakku volunteered to gave evidence in the case where Mr.Kodituwakku conducted his own difence in whihc he was falsely charged on maliciously grounds.

    The Judge who heard the case was convinced beyond any doubts whatsoever and found him innocent and acquitted him after a long drawn trial. Besides that some of the fraudulent garment exporters migrated to Australia since they could not continue to engage in fraudulent activities as long as Mr Kodituwakku was in service .

    Therefore, if anybody says that Mr.Kodituwakku was a corrupt officer, it is either due to their ignorance of unmatchable calibre of Mr. Kodituwakku or due to deleberately fabricating to sling mud at him since Mr. Kodituwkku happened to be a threat to big time racketeers in the country todate. Without any doubt whatsoever I can state that Mr.Kodituwakku was one of the officers who refused to carry out any illegal directions or orders given by his superiors even at behest of their superiors.

    That was why he had to flee from the country when one of the cases where Arjuna Ranatunga was involved which was duly dealt with by Mr Kodituwakku without any fear or favor, disregaring the illegal directions made by the Head of the Department. And by then the DGC Mr W D L Perera had already sought protection for him in the UK having failed secure protection from any authorities in Sri Lanaka. Any one can peruse the letter issued in this regard by the Director General of Customs Mr W D L Perera which is available in the public domain. It is no doubt the country lost the valuable services honest officers of this caliber of Mr Kodituwakku, merely becuase he refused to compromise his integrity.

    .S.M.J.Senaratna. Retired Secretary to the Ministry of Post, Telecommunication and Information and the former Director General of Customs (1996 -1999).

    • 6
      0

      Thanks for your input Mr..Senaratne.
      You were regarded as a honest, fair and straight officer by those who had come before you when you functioned in the capacity of ACC during you days in Jaffna many years ago.

  • 1
    0

    This article shows that there are always honest and straightforward officers in the government service. What we need to do is to increase this number as quickly as possible and encourage the current lot to be more honest.
    We should tell everyone that there is no escape if you commit a crime in this technologically advanced society today. Therefore make it a habit that you don’t steal even a pin from your workplace, whether it is the government or the private sector or the co-operative sector. There are CCTV cameras everywhere today and if you steal you are caught.That’s a good deterrent to cultivate honest habits.
    Here, look what happens to the images of Arjuna Ranatunga and CBK? They are already tarnished to an irreparable level.
    That’s why people don’t pay attention to CBK’s words today; she is a burden (to good governance if such a thing exists today!)

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