Good governance watchdog Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has given an ‘Integrity Award’ to the chairman of the ‘Ravaya’ newspaper, Victor Ivan, by way of marking the International Anti-Corruption Day.
The integrity recognition, also awarded posthumously to the late Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, was made at the concluding ceremony of a “Walk Against Corruption” jointly organized by TISL and the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, newly appointment after the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
“The fact that Victor Ivan who has been accused of swindling contributors to the Ravaya fund regarding which there is a complaint being looked into by the Registrar of Companies and the Fraud Bureau shows the mockery that this ‘yahapalanaya’ government is engaging in when it talks of battling corruption. The Corruption Commission should stop these useless extravagances on which state money is wasted and actually show concrete results in their corruption investigations whch it has not shown so far.” a good governance activist told Colombo Telegraph.
Colombo Telegraph learns that the Registrar of Companies is in the process of investigating allegations levelled against Ivan. The move violates a basic principle of good governance, where those accused of wrongdoing are not rewarded in any manner until such time proper investigations are concluded and they are cleared. Ivan himself wrote extensively in the Ravaya objecting to the appointment of Sarath N Silva as Chief Justice since ‘investigations into alleged wrongdoing while he (Silva) was Attorney General had not been concluded’.
The TISL website has not indicated the criteria for the award. Neither does it carry citations related to the recipients. Shan WIjetunge, Senior Manager (Advocacy) of TISL, when contacted by Colombo Telegraph, was unable to furnish the relevant information, but promised that the website would be updated on Friday.
Ivan has been accused of being complicit in a fraudulent scheme whereby contributions sought to salvage the cash-stripped Ravaya newspaper were pocketed in the name of ‘shares’. The total amount that Ivan took is Rs 5 million. The contributors were not informed about this arrangement when funds were solicited. Moreover, many complain that receipts for donations had not been issued by the collector, Ravaya Solidarity.
Colombo Telegraph reported recently that Ivan had begun paying back the monies thus taken, clearly indicating acceptance of wrongdoing.
It is reported that Ravaya newspaper to date has to pay Rs.12 million in income taxes.
Until the Presidential Election of 2005, i.e. during the reign of Chandrika Kumaratunga, every month without fail the Ravaya would get a notice from the Department of Inland Revenue, requesting payment of an outstanding amount of Rs 14 million.
When Mahinda Rajapaksa became President, he told Ivan to speak with the Commissioner of Inland Revenue. Ivan sent Lal Piyasena, the late owner of Dai Lanka, to represent him. Piyasena was told that Rs 2 million had to be paid because payment had been promised by Ravaya. The rest, Rs 12 million, was frozen. Financial Accounts of Ravaya related to the period mention this amount under Liabilities (click here to see the financial accounts).
Until 2014 Ivan was a big backer of Mahinda Rajapaksa, openly claiming that neither the ex President nor his brothers Basil and Gotabaya were corrupt.