The Sri Lankan Chapter of the global anti-corruption body, Transparency International (TI) appears to be battling a corruption crisis of its own with long standing staff members of the local chapter leveling serious allegations of corruption and malpractices at TI Sri Lanka (TISL).
In a letter addressed to TISL Chairman, Lakshan Dias, three staff members, Shan Wijetunge (Senior Manager, Advocacy & Public Relations), Ananda Jayasekara (Programme Manager) and Jagath Liyana Arachchi (Manager, Advocacy & Legal Advice Centre), who also identified themselves as whistleblowers brought to light a series of issues facing the local chapter, while also requesting Dias to carry out an independent and impartial inquiry without any of the Board Members of TISL being involved in such an inquiry.
According to the three whistleblowers, there has been serious corruption and malpractices carried out at TISL including; violation of procedures in recruitment, awarding of contracts without calling for quotations, removal of three senior employees by citing false information even when the funds were available, violation of organisation manual, ill treatment meted out to staff members as well as nepotism & insider dealings.
“We appeal for your intervention and take appropriate action to conduct an impartial inquiry in to the following allegations and take preventive measures. We do have credible information to prove the allegations and willing to share them when an inquiry is being held,” they said in the letter.
Ananda Jayasekara, who has worked for TISL for ten years continuously although under several contracts renewed periodically alleged that he was victimised after whistleblowing. This is a clear violation of TISL’s own Whistleblower Protection Policy, says Jayasekara. Its whistleblower protection policy says: “TISL encourages staff members to expose any such behavior and is committed to providing whistle blower protection for such staff members. TISL will not tolerate harassment, retaliation or any type of discrimination against a whistleblower.” (Read the full policy here)
In June, former Executive Director of TISL, S. Ranugge openly questioned the integrity of TISL’s Board of Directors, accusing them of ‘illegal, irrational and unethical’ actions and decisions with respect to the termination of his (Ranugge’s) fixed term contract and the recruitment of the new Executive Director. Ranugge has furthermore alleged that members of the Board have been engaged in politics for personal gain and to reward friends with positions in the staff.
Meanwhile, the global anti-corruption body itself announced that they were inquiring in the various issues at the Sri Lankan Chapter. In a tweet on August 18, Transparency International said, “We take these issues seriously and are looking into this.” They made this statement in response to a question posed by journalist Rohan Jayasekera who asked how TI was addressing the current problems at its Sri Lanka chapter.
We publish below the whistleblowers’ letter in full:
Transparency International Sri Lanka
Appeal to Conduct an Impartial Inquiry in to the Corruption & Malpractices Happening in TISL
The purpose of this communique is to enlighten you on the recent and current happenings within the organization. These unhealthy developments not only have stood contrary to the vision and the mission of the organization but also have tarnished the good name achieved by the TSIL through its anti-corruption activities.
It must be mentioned that during the last few months several attempts were made to work out an internal solution through preventive action as it was thought that dissemination of documented information on these misdemeanors would be detrimental to the organization’s well-being. Given the failure of such efforts, as long standing members of staff we felt that there is a need to request for an immediate and impartial inquiry in to the incidents with a view to take preventive action.
Already these misdemeanors are being discussed among a considerable section of the staff and it will remain a huge challenge to prevent these being discussed outside, media and among civil society activists.
A majority of the long standing staff who believe in the values, morals and action of the organization are not in approval of these wrong doings. They strongly believe that corrective measures must be taken. They are being hampered by the fears that those who had expressed themselves against these wrong doings have been sent home having terminated their contracts. We believe that more than a half of the entire staff would want to testify before an independent investigation provided there are guarantees that they would not be subject to a witch hunt and that their jobs would not be under threat by doing so.
We appeal for your intervention and take appropriate action to conduct an impartial inquiry in to the following allegations and take preventive measures. We do have credible information to prove the allegations and willing to share them when inquiry is being held.
- Violation of procedures in Recruitment
- Awarding of contracts without calling for quotations
- The removal of three senior employees by citing false information even when the funds were available.
- Violation of Organisation Manual
- Ill treatment meted out for staff members.
- Nepotism & insider dealings
We who signed this document making above allegation as whistleblowers and we believe Organaisational Manual & core values of the TISL have provided us enough opportunities act as whistleblowers.
When conducting an inquiry in to the allegations please do not appoint any of the Board members as criticism has leveled against some of the members as well.
Shan Wijetunge, Ananda Jayasekara, Jagath Liyana Arachchi