A deep state of crookedness
Posted on October 20th, 2017

JOMO UDUMAN Etul-Kotte Courtesy The Island

What was enacted at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCI) on the controversial bond issuance is downright disgusting. Bankers, Politicians and Corporates are getting away by just saying “I don’t know”. Unscrupulous lawyers set it up for them to lie through their cavities and plaque ridden teeth under oath. What has been revealed here is just the tip of the iceberg. Where are those four lines of “defense” against corporate malpractice: internal controls, independent third parties, supervision and law enforcement? Not only in dealing rooms must the searchlight be shone, but also in procurement.

Fifty global banks were involved recently in a $21 billion Russian money laundering scheme dubbed “the Russian Laundromat”. Regulators in the USA, the UK, and the EU have fined banks more than $9 billion for rigging Libor. Then three banks colluded to manipulate Euribo and were fined €485m. Bloomberg reports that banks globally have paid $321 billion in fines since 2008, for regulatory failings from money laundering to market manipulation and terrorist financing. The names and conduct of all these banks will shock their account holders in Sri Lanka out of their wits. All these banks profess to uphold optimum levels of “corporate social responsibility”.

A famous pharmaceutical group was fined $3 billion after admitting to bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of unsuitable anti-depressants to children. The company encouraged their reps in the US to mis-sell three drugs to doctors, and lavished hospitality and kickbacks on those who agreed to write extra prescriptions. The company admitted corporate misconduct over two anti-depressants and an asthma drug. Psychiatrists and their partners were flown to five-star hotels, on all-expenses-paid trips, to give presentations on the drugs. They enjoyed golf, diving, fishing and other activities arranged by the company. Then recently, China too fined them a record 3 billion yuan ($489 million) for bribing doctors to use their drugs. The name of this group will shock consumers of OTC and prescription medicines in SL.

My son who has just begun his career, and cannot believe what he reads in the PCI proceedings. What messages are all of this giving school leavers and budding entrepreneurs? What about the children, families and friends of all these liars? Will they stand by and applaud them or empower them to come clean? Why is it that despite the evidence nobody can really see the light of justice at the end of the tunnel? Is there a Deep State lurking under the veneer of good governance?

JOMO UDUMAN

Etul-Kotte

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