‘Millions kept on Palisena’s chair after encashing cheques’
Posted on October 14th, 2017

Shehan Chamika Silva Courtesy The Daily Mirror

Senior Dealer of PTL Kaushitha Rathnaveera yesterday told the PCoI that he had encashed cheques received by PTL from its related companies on several times amounting millions and left the money on PTL CEO Kasun Palisena’s chair but does not know what happened to the money thereafter.

At the onset of the yesterday’s proceedings, President’s Counsel Kalinga Indatissa appearing on behalf of Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) cross-examined the PTL Chief Dealer Nuwan Salgado on the ‘document’ he is said to have maintained on the instructions of PTL CEO Kasun Palisena.

Earlier, Nuwan Salgado said that he had maintained a document, which contained payments allocated by PTL to ‘informants’ coded as ‘Charlie’, ‘Tango’ and ‘Car’ channeled through its related group companies on the instructions of PTL CEO Kasun Palisena.

Counsel Indatissa first contested the authenticity of the said document and said that the witness was only given the hard copy of the document by the Police officers who interrogated him at the Commission premises. He said the witness was not present when the extraction of that data from the said PTL computer was done by the investigators.

The President’s Counsel said that the witness had sworn in the affidavit dated October 3, 2017 about the said document he maintained, but the PTL’s computers were taken into custody by the CID on October 9, 2017.

He questioned the credibility of the document saying that it cannot be proven in the absence of the original soft copy, which is not available at the moment.

This document maintained by Nuwan Salgado has several columns which reflect fund transfers from PTL to its related group companies (Perpetual Asset Management, W.M. Mendis & Company and Perpetual Capital Holdings).

It was revealed that this document maintained on the instructions of PTL CEO Kasun Palisena was only regarding a few fund transfers which were reflected as payments in the document.

The witness said that he was instructed by his CEO Palisena to add a column on the right hand side of the document under the category of ‘informant’ and include the names ‘Charlie’, ‘Tango’, ‘Car’ and ‘CP Interests’ relating to those specific payments.

Earlier, when questioned, the witness was of the view that he was unaware as to who were referred to as ‘Tango’ and ‘Car’ in the document. But he said that in the dealing room of PTL, the dealers had referred to the Primary Contact person of the EPF as ‘Charlie.’

Submitting several documents before the Commission, Mr. Indatissa contested on the payments reflected as ‘Car’ and ‘CP Interests’.

He said ‘Car’ in the document was not an individual, in fact it was about a vehicle purchase of PTL. Mr. Indatissa said that this vehicle was subsequently used by PTL’s former CEO, Arjun Aloysius.

Mr. Indatissa PC also pointed out that the name mentioned as ‘CP Interests’ were payments made to the Safe Holdings company as borrowing interests and was not about an individual.

Mr. Indatissa was of the view that the fund transfers (payments) cited in the document were reflected in the CBSL system as well, since they were based on some bond transactions.

The President’s Counsel also suggested that the witness had been forced to give such evidence as there is an action filed in Fort Magistrate’s Court against four suspects including the witness for fabricating evidence.

During the cross-examination, the witness said that he did not see these payments being received by any of third party. Mr. Indatissa therefore said that the witness is not in a position to say that PTL paid third parties any ‘gratitudes’ based on the said ‘document’ maintained by Nuwan Salgado.

Counsel Harsha Nanayakkara who was appearing on behalf of former EPF dealer Saman Kumara also cross-examined the witness and said that the document is reflecting a time period between July 2014 to March 2015 but his client was appointed as the EPF dealer in October 2015.

The witness said that he is not hundred percent sure that the name depicted as ‘Charlie’ in the document, was the same Charlie that they used to refer in the dealing room. However, he said if so, during July 2014 to September 2015, the EPF primary contact person was ‘Udayaseelan’ and thereafter they called Saman Kumara ‘Charlie’ as well.

When questioned by President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne who was appearing on behalf of Arjun Aloysius and W.M.Mendis & Company, the witness was of the view that he has no exact knowledge as to whether these payments were made to third parties.

After the cross- examination, Senior Additional Solicitor General Dappula De Livera started to re-examine the witness.

ASG Dappula De Livera: Now, You stand by with your affidavit, right?

Witness Salgado: Yes

ASG De Livera: Was this ‘document’ maintained by you?

W: Yes

ASG De Livera: Now this document was updated by you in which computer?

W: The Computer I used at PTL

ASG De Livera: Did anyone other than you have access to it?

W: No

ASG De Livera: Now, you earlier said that you maintained this document on the instructions of Kasun Palisena, right?

W: Yes

ASG De Livera: Who provided the information in that ‘document’?

W: Kasun Palisena

ASG De Livera: By what means?

W: Verbally

ASG De Livera: So, in that event, Kasun Palisena would have also looked at the computer and taken printouts of it, right?

W: Yes

ASG De Livera: That means only Kasun Palisena and You (Nuwan Salgado) knew about this document, which contained specific fund transfers (payments) from PTL to its related companies, right?

W: Yes

ASG De Livera: So, this is a secret document maintained by you and Palisena, right?

W: Yes

During this questioning the witness also explained that he started maintaining this document in 2014 on the instructions of Palisena and continued to update it. He also said from time to time he had e-mailed the document to Palisena.

The witness admitted that he deleted the document from the computer and from the sent items box of his e-mail account after sending it to PTL CEO Palisena.

ASG De Livera: Now, You referred to Udayaseelan (former EPF dealer) and Saman Kumara (former EPF dealer) as Charlie at different times, right?

W: Yes

ASG De Livera: Do you know other persons referred to as ‘Charlie’ in PTL?

W: No

ASG De Livera: Do you know who this ‘Tango’ was?

W: No

ASG De Livera: Who told you to add ‘Tango’ name to the document?

W: PTL CEO Kasun Palisena

During this questioning the witness said that based on the way in which the document was maintained he realized that the payment allocated from PTL to its related companies were considerations for persons coded such as Charlie”.

ASG De Livera: When you were shown this document by the CID officers, did you have any doubt about this document?

W: No

ASG De Livera: Now you have said that you had deleted this document, why was that?

W: I did not want any other person accessing it.

ASG De Livera: So, this was a secret document which carried sensitive information, which was known only to you and Palisena, right?

W: Yes

ASG De Livera: Were you at any time forced or suppressed by the CID or Attorney General’s Department’s officials when you prepared the affidavit?

W: No. I was not forced.

Thereafter, Deputy Solicitor General Milinda Gunatilleke also re-examined the witness with regard to the payments reflected in the document.

Drawing the witness’ attention to an outright transactions list produced by PTL CEO Kasun Palisena, DSG Gunatilleke explained that there were transactions referred by Palisena as ‘Netted off transactions’ which PTL engaged with its related group companies. DSG Gunatilleke said the payments depicted in the document maintained by Nuwan Salgado were born out of the netted off transactions.

DSG Gunatilleke explained, that through this netted off bond transactions by PTL with its other related group companies, there were netted off payments” sent by PTL to its related companies.

When questioned by DSG Gunatillke, the witness said PTL had received ‘cash cheques’ from time to time from its related group companies (Perpetual Asset Management, W.M. Mendis & Company and Perpetual Capital Holding).

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena then questioned the witness.

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: According to the document produced by Kasun Palisena, there was a bulk of ‘netted off’ transactions by PTL with its related group companies, right?

W: Yes

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: But, Kasun Palisena wanted you to maintain a document with regard to only several transactions, right?

W: Yes

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: Now, PTL Counsel showed you documents to prove what exactly ‘Car’ and ‘CP Interests’ refers in the document that you maintained, right?

W: Yes

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: And they showed you several documents to prove that there was a vehicle purchase as well, right?

W: Yes

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: But in relation to other transactions referred to as ‘Charlie’ (Rs. 97 million) and ‘Tango’ (Rs. 40 million) in the document, nothing was pointed out, right?

W: Yes

J: As PTL submitted documents to prove the transactions relating to ‘Car’ and ‘CP Interests’ were bona fide payments, there is no single document as to what happened with the funds transferred under the code name ‘Charlie’ and ‘Tango’, right?

W: Yes

J: Why did you name those transactions with names, ‘Charlie’ and ‘Tango’? You could have used anything?

W: Those names were given to me by Kasun Palisena

J: Why did you consider that these payments were paid to a third party?

W: because of the way in which this document was maintained, I realized that these payments were made to informants.

J: Now who added that word as ‘informant’?

W: I did

J: Then Kasun Palisena would have seen it as well, right?

W: Yes, because I had sent him the document on several times.

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After a short adjournment of the proceedings, PTL Senior Dealer, Kaushitha Rathnaweera was called to testify before the Commission and Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera led the evidence.

During his testimony, Mr. Rathnaweera said that there were cash cheques received by PTL from its related group companies and then he had encashed them on the instructions of Kasun Palisena and handed over the money to Palisena.

When the witness was asked to elaborated the process as to how they encashed the cheques received from its related companies, the witness said When my CEO refers me a cheque, I then communicate with the relevant related company’s accountant. And then the cheque is receives by us. Then I go to the bank to encash the cheque. Thereafter I give the money brought from the bank to Kasun Palisena.”

The witness said on several occasions he had done this process and there were other individuals too who had encashed these cheques at different times.

Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: Now, you said that you bring the money from bank to PTL, correct?

Witness Kaushitha Rathnaveera: Yes

Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: Then what happens?

W: I keep the money in Kasun Palisena’s room

Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know what happens to that money there after?

W: No

Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: Where do you keep that money in Kasun Palisena’s office room?

W: On CEO’s chair

The Commission at this moment, asked in a lighter vein as to why the witness thought of keeping that money on the CEO’s chair. The witness said I just left the money on the chair”.

Justice Jayawardena at this moment in a sarcastic manner quipped: was it a bomb.”

It was also revealed that there were cheques received regularly amounting to Rs. 1 million byPTL from its related group companies.

Showing several deal tickets, Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera asked the witness: Did you know at all that these transactions ever took place?

W: There was no fund movement in these transactions.

These transactions were regarded as the ‘netted off’ transactions by Kasun Palisena which took place between PTL and its related companies. It was revealed that the payments made by PTL to its related companies were born out of these netted off transactions.

*PTL making payments –to- Perpetual Asset Management, W.M. Mendis & Company and Perpetual Capital (Related companies)

* Related companies sending cash cheques –to- PTL relating to the payments that were received. (Cheques were signed mainly by Arjun Aloysius, Geoffrey Aloysius and Surendran Muthuraja)

*PTL officials encashing them into money

*And handing over the money to PTL CEO Kasuna Palisena

*PTL officials unaware what happens to the money thereafter

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena then questioned the witness.

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: Now, PTL makes payments time to time to its related group companies on the basis of some of T-bond transactions and the related companies from time to time send cash cheques to PTL, right?

W: Yes

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: Then you encash them and hand it over to Kasun Palisena, right?

W: Yes

Justice Jayawardena then questioned the witness on the signatures reflected in some of the cheques that the witness had produced before the Commission.

During this questioning it was revealed that Arjun Aloysius, Geoffrey Aloysius and Surendran Muthuraja had signed these cheques, which came from PTL’s related companies (Perpetual Asset Management, W.M. Mendis & Company and Perpetual Capital Holdings)

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: So, is it correct to say that Perpetual Capital Holding was the ultimate holding company of PTL?

W: Yes

Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: And that holding company is solely controlled by the father and son, Arjun Aloysius and Geoffrey Aloysius, right?

W: Yes

Thereafter, Counsel Arulpragasam appearing on behalf of PTL and the President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne appearing for Arjun Aloysius cross-examined the witness.

During this cross-examination Justice K.T. Chitrasiri and Justice Prasanna Jayawardena both questioned the witness as to why he did not question Kasun Palisena when he handed over large amounts of money. The witness said he did not think about it and only thought that it was none of his business.

Mr. Anuja Premaratne was of the view that the process in which the payments were received from related companies to PTL was not illegal.

At this moment, Justice Jayawardena said Payments are not illegal but the use of that money may or may not be illegal”.

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