Joint Opposition says SLFPers in govt also responsible for biggest scam
Posted on July 26th, 2017

by Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

The Joint Opposition yesterday alleged that President Maithripala Sirisena and the SLFP group in the UNP-led government couldn’t absolve themselves of the responsibility for unprecedented Central Bank bond scams in Feb 2015 and March 2016.

Addressing the media at Punchi Borella, former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris and MP Bandula Gunawardena pointed out that President Sirisena had appointed a three-member Commission of Inquiry (CoI) in January 2017, ten months after the second scam, to probe the worst financial fraud ever to have taken place in the country.

Prof. Peiris emphasized that the second scam was definitely bigger than the Feb 2015 robbery.

Had President Sirisena acted swiftly, the second larger fraud could have been averted, the former law professor said.

The CoI comprises Supreme Court Judges Kankani Tantri Chitrasiri, Prasanna Sujeewa Jayawardena and retired deputy Auditor General Velupillai Kandasamy.

Prof. Peiris said the shocking revelation regarding the then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and those investigated for bond scams before the CoI was evidence of what the internationally recognised legal scholar called the scale of the operation.

The former External

Affairs Minister was referring to Walt and Row Associates on behalf of Arjun Joseph Aloysius paying rental amounting to Rs 11.6 mn for a 4,000-square-foot luxury apartment at Monarch Residencies, situated at Colombo 03 occupied by the then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake. The agreement has covered period of six months from Feb 12, 2016 to Aug 11, 2016 and the amount included refundable two months’ advance.

Responding to a query, Prof. Peiris alleged that President Sirisena had dissolved parliament in late June 2015 to pave the way for early parliamentary polls. Early dissolution was meant to thwart the then Chairman of Committee on Public Enterprises (CoPE) Dew Gunasekera presenting a damning report on Feb 2015 scam to parliament, he alleged.

MP Bandula Gunawardena said the government certainly owed the country an explanation regarding inordinate delay in inquiring into disclosures made by the JO in and outside parliament. Gunawardena said that JO MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage had some time back revealed that Aloysius paid the lease of the Karunanayakes’ penthouse. Gunawardena also questioned the circumstances under which the Global Transportation and Logistics Pvt Ltd had bought the penthouse for Rs 165 mn on behalf of Karunanayakes eight months after the original agreement.

Gunawardena said that in spite of the JO making representations to international lending agencies, they didn’t take tangible measures. The JO spokesman accused them of ignoring their concerns.

President Maithripala Sirisena has extended the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) by three more moths. The CoI was to lapse on July 27, 2017, a senior government official told The Island.

A senior spokesperson for the CoI said that sittings had to be cancelled as Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake was the only witness scheduled to appear before the CoI yesterday.

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