AG stands his ground – CBSL bond scams controversy
Posted on January 26th, 2017

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

January 26, 2017, 10:03 pm

Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe yesterday said that there couldn’t be any information pertaining to the Central Bank bond scams which couldn’t be shared with JVP MP Sunil Handunetti, Chairman of the parliamentary watchdog Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).

Soft spoken Wijesinghe emphasized that there couldn’t be any secrets between the AG and the Chairman of COPE.

The presidential appointee was responding to severe criticism of his conduct as well as those of his officials over the alleged release of information pertaining to Central Bank bond scams to COPE Chief as alleged by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

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Gamini

The UNP led coalition is under heavy fire for allegedly protecting those who had perpetrated massive bond scams in Feb 2015 and March 2016. The then Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius of controversial primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries have been accused of abusing the system.

The UNPer accused AG Wijesinghe of handing over information he had sought from the official to the JVPer. Minister is on record as having said that he wasn’t given what he had asked for.

Wijesinghe told The Island that he couldn’t be browbeaten under any circumstances though some may have believed in suppressing the truth.

Asked whether he had undermined the authority of the Finance Minister, Wijesinghe emphasized that the AG’s Department is answerable to the parliament therefore no one could find fault with him for making relevant information available to the House.

In fact, after having handed over the information the Finance Minister had asked for, I have uploaded the same to department website, Wijesinghe said. According to him, information had been made available to Minister Karunanayake on January 17 and a receipt received from the ministry.

Wijesinghe said that there was no basis for the claim that the Attorney General barred issuance of information to anyone other than the Finance Minister.

JVP National List member Bimal Ratnayake used the information provided by the AG to Minister Karunanayake, MP Handunetti as well as posted on AG’s Department website to flay the UNP.

The AG said that regardless of intimidation his efforts to uphold transparency and accountability would continue.

Responding to a query, the Auditor General said that he had discussed the issue at hand with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in the wake of unfounded accusations directed at his department. “I have explained the circumstances under which the information requested by the Finance Minister ended up in the public domain.”

Comparing the investigation undertaken by him into the Central Bank bond scams with the doctor conducting a port postmortem on a body, Wijesinghe said that the latter couldn’t be asked not to cut the body.

Recollecting a simmering dispute last year over a report pertaining to government debt, AG Wijesinghe said that his department couldn’t be expected to produce reports to appease anyone.

Wijesinghe strongly criticized a recent front-page report headlined ‘AG goes ahead with controversial arrangement proposed by budget, but rejected by media Secretary’ on January 18 edition of The Island. The AG emphasized that the agreement to lease vehicles for a five-year period had been taken in accordance with budget proposal subject to reconfirmation with the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance.

The AG said that acquisition of vehicles required by his department shouldn’t be criticized against the backdrop of Secretary to the Media Ministry Nimal Bopage declining to authorize leasing of 58 vehicles for members of parliament. The AG said: “The Media Ministry Secretary is right. Bopage quite rightly felt that he couldn’t authorize payment plan spread over a five year period as the life of the present parliament is very much less whereas the AG’s Department is a permanent functioning body.”

AG Wijesinghe said that media could cause severe damage to important institutions and in the process, wittingly or unwittingly facilitate despicable projects.

One Response to “AG stands his ground – CBSL bond scams controversy”

  1. Charles Says:

    We agree with the Attorney General Mr. Gamini Wijesinghe. The people of Sri Lanka respect the AG and appreciate his forthrightness.

    But AG should not forget that he is working with quite experienced “crooks” in the Government. The Finance Minister began his term of office with a Court case against him for money laundering. How it ended in a favourable verdict was questionable after the Judge, who gave the verdict resigned and left the Island. Even before that the same Minister had been accused for sale of the Cooperative Wholesale Establishment for a pittance.

    It is evident that even the Bond Scam was well planned long before Ranil and Ravi came into power. Finance Minister of this Government is a friend of Rajaratnam who financed the LTTE. The Finance Minister’s money laundering case was on the money he had received from Rajaratnam. Arjun Mahendran is a friend of Rajaratnam as well . They are the same “Click”. Prime Minister took over the Central Bank under his Ministry for a purpose. We know now what was the purpose(to defend the crooks). The Finance Minister and the Prime Minister accuse every one just to prove that they are clean as “knights in white silver armours”.

    But Shamindra Ferdinando is a biased journalist. In fact most of the journalists in Sri Lanka are biased, therefore they try to be objective criticising the previous government, putting it under the same footing with this Yahapalanaya Government. perhaps through fear of repression by this Yahapalanaya Government. Shamindra was telling the other day speaking to Faraz Shaukatali that this Yahapalanaya Government is same as the Previous government.

    How can one compare the Yahapalanaya Government with the Previous Government that saved Sri Lanka from terrorism and developed Sri Lanka as it had never been before within a short time after eliminating terrorism ? The Previous government managed well the debts they had taken for development purpose. There is much more the Previous Government did which makes it least comparable to this most disastrous Yahapalanaya Government. Imagining theft without proof is no theft.

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