YAHAPALANA AND CORRUPTION Part 3D
Posted on March 30th, 2019

KAMALIKA  PIERIS

Revised 1.4.19

Yahapalana reacted strongly against the bond scam investigation. Yahapalana tried to use influence to  cover up the bond scam.  The Auditor General was told by Prime Minister  that the AG’s calculations of the  loss  from the bond scam was all wrong. UNP tried to move court to prevent the release of the first COPE committee report. Footnotes were added to the second COPE report saying that no fraud had taken place. UNP State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe wrote a book stating that no fraud had taken place at the bond auctions. A spate of attempts had been made to sabotage the COPE  inquiry , said DEW Gunasekera .

UNPers on the COPE team, dubbed the ‘footnoters ‘had been on their hand phones during  sittings in Parliament,  Obviously, they were receiving instructions from Aloysius and shared information and perhaps allowed him to listen to proceedings, MPs charged. So what if there were calls made by Ministers and MPs who were members of the Committee on Public Enterprises to Arjun,” asked columnist Don Manu. Is it a crime to dial a friend’s number, an offense to receive a call from a friend even if he is accused of a wrongdoing?

However, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya decided to seek legal opinion   regarding four parliamentarians  were named before the Commission of Inquiry for making telephone calls to Arjun Aloysius when in Parliament. The MPs were at the time serving members of the COPE team inquiring into the  bond scam. The Speaker wanted to ascertain whether the disclosures warranted action since no precedent exist over such matters.

These  MPs  met Speaker Jayasuriya  to explain the phone calls. Explanations had varied from calls being made for personal reasons to a few complaining that their political career has been damaged. They said that checking on their telephones by the CID violated the privileges they enjoyed under Standing Orders of Parliament.

A very senior official of the Central Bank was found removing a haul of files and documents from the bank recently, said the media in July 2017. The official in question arrived at the bank around 7.30 pm and took the documents in his personal car without following the due procedure  of first obtaining a gate pass. Details of the documents being taken out of the Central Bank have to be recorded at the Security Division of the Bank. The official had claimed that he was removing some files belonging to him. The files were removed while inquiry was going on.     The fact that the official had been linked to the Bond scam and was due to retire  seemed to indicate that he might have been eliminating vital evidence.

Yahapalana    tried to scuttle the  COPE inquiry. A Fundamental Rights petition was filed in 2017  by Ven. Thiniyawala Palitha challenging the various findings and statements made in a report prepared by the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) regarding the bond issues by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in the year of 2015 and 2016. Lawyer S.A. Parathalingam appeared for him. Senior state counsel was S Gnanarajah.

Ven.  Thiniyawela Palitha asked Supreme Court to declare that the bond auctions were done correctly according to Central Bank rules.  The Petitioner further stated that COPE report is littered with inconsistencies, contradictions, misrepresentations, which makes certain findings and statements in the COPE report unsafe, prejudiced, biased, and a violation and infringement of the Petitioner’s fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 12(1) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

The petitioner is seeking an declaration that any findings, statements, suggestions in the   COPE report that say that the direct and private placement method in the issue of Treasury Bonds by the Central Bank has been properly, lawfully and correctly used by the Central Bank from the month of January 2009 up until the date of the COPE report, is wrong.

The petitioner is further seeking an Order or Declaration that as at the time of the Treasury Bond auctions of the Central Bank that was held on February 27, 2015 and March 29, 2016, the proper, lawful process or method as regards the issue of Treasury Bonds was the auction process/method, and not the direct/private placement process/method.

When all this failed and  the Bond scam report was ready, Yahapalana decided to block the report. President  Sirisena dissolved Parliament  on the night of June 26, 2015   just when D.E.W.Gunasekera was about to present the first COPE Committee report on the bond scam to Parliament. Had President Sirisena allowed the explosive report to be tabled, the outcome of the general election in August 2015 would have been different.  This action also paved the way for far bigger Treasury bond scam in March 2016. The President didn’t appoint an investigating committee to probe these massively corrupt transactions till  January 2017.

 President Sirisena, as the Leader of this UNP-SLFP government, went to the incredible extent of dissolving Parliament, one day before the DEW Gunasekera COPE Report was to be presented to the Speaker, said Nivard Cabraal. By such single action, he was able to save all the wrong-doers of the initial Bond Scam of February 2015,  and he paved the way for the same wrong-doers to carry out the second Bond Scam of even greater proportions, in March 2016.

The Commission of Inquiry finished its work and submitted a full report to President Sirisena. Yahapalana played with this report.

The President put  the Commission report  on his website, but with omissions. The section  which   faulted the Prime Minister for not taking action against the then Central Bank governor Arjuna Mahendran and also blindly believing in him was removed. The deleted para read: “The Commission is of the opinion that the Prime Minister made his statement in Parliament regarding the appointment of Mr Mahendran believing in the facts presented by Mr. Mahendran and Mr.Samarasiri, especially the promises made by Mr Mahendran..”

The President’s website also  carried  a statement by the President  on the findings of the Commission. The first English translation of the President’s Sinhala statement was reasonably close to the original, but a subsequent version removed all references to Wickremesinghe and finance minister Ravi Karunanayake.  References to Ravi Karunanayake  were brought back later.

Yahapalana government did not release  the full report of the Commission of inquiry to Parliament.  Even the MPs in Parliament did not get the full report”. The main report and annexures I, II, IV and V were released  to Parliament,  but not annexure No III, which contains marked documents and evidence notes, said Campaign for Free and fair Elections (CaFFE). Annexure three has neither been given to the MPs nor released to the public via the Presidential secretariat website,

The missing section included Section C 350 (together with C 71, C 123, C 279, C 281, C 67),which  contained detailed phone records collected by the CID of conversations of journalists, politicians, religious leaders and civil society members who had received money from Perpetual Treasuries (Pvt.) Limited (PTL). In the main report there are observations based on a document titled C 350,  but this is not available in the released documents. 

The Bond Commission report was then  sent to the Department of National Archives    where it came under the National Archives Law No. 48 of 1978. Section 2 of the Act  said that such documents shall be closed for public inspection until the lapse of 30 years after their creation”.

Campaign for Free and Fair Election (CaFFE) Executive Director Tennekoon  tried to get the full report, including all its annexes, from the Department of National Archives  and discovered  this embargo.  He found that the Right to Information Act did not cover the Archives. A written directive from the Presidential Secretariat was needed  to view the documents.  

After a delay of  several months   the National Archives gave him the report. 12 pages were missing. The missing section was the  C350 report, containing phone records of COPE members, and former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.”. What was given only contained details of records of calls between Central Bank officials and some other individuals.  

Shamindra Ferdinando made a pertinent observation. The  joint AG, CID and Central Bank team  examining the Central Bank Bond scam proved beyond any doubt that Sri Lanka had the required expertise to undertake complex investigation,  commented Shamindra Ferdinando. Had investigators been given a free hand to inquire into revelations made by COPE and Public Accounts Committee (PAC), many Ministers would have been found guilty of waste, corruption and irregularities. But Parliament did  not amend Standing Orders to enable the watchdog committees to summon ministers, he added.

The team investigating the Bond Scam were: Senior Additional Solicitor General Dappula de Livera, PC, ASG Yasantha Kodagoda, PC, ASG Priyantha Nawana, PC, Senior DSG Milinda Gunathileka, DSG Dilan Ratnayake, Senior State Counsel Shahida Barrie, Senior State Counsel Nayomi Wickremasekera, Senior State Counsel Dr Avanthi Perera, State Counsel Dhanushan Ganeshayogan, State Counsel Jehan Gunasekera. The Attorney General team was assisted by five-member teams from the Central Bank as well as the Criminal Investigation Department.

To conclude, it has become clear to   the public, thanks to the publicity given to the bond scam on TV and newspapers, that  a very serious financial scam had been carried out, which those responsible  thought would not be discovered, because of  its complexity. This was essentially a colossal bank heist.

It was planned and carried out by those who were expected to protect the finances of the country. They did so with no concern for the country  and with no remorse. The scam was pulled not once, but twice, very successfully.  The second one took place after the first bond scam had been discovered. 

D. E. W. Gunasekera yesterday said that the top UNP leadership couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for the bond scams.  W. A. Wijewardena said that both politicians and officials  had acted in contravention of rules and regulations governing banking operations. They had carried out the ‘business’ with impunity and  weren’t bothered at all about the fact that it was a  serious violation [of trust]. 

The bond scam came to light only due to the courage and integrity of a few officials, a relentless media, concerned citizens, and some Parliamentarians.  The outrage of the presenters of the evening news as the Presidential Commission report was released was palpable as they hosted a special segment dedicated to this misdemeanor, said the media. DEW Gunasekera paid a glowing tribute to those members of both the print and electronic media who had relentlessly followed the Treasury bond scam.

Appendix

Shamindra Ferdinando has provided the following time line for the bond scam:

Jan. 8, 2015: Presidential electionJan.9, 2015: Maithripala Sirisena sworn in as PresidentJan.9, 2015: Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as Prime MinisterJan.23, 2015: Then Finance Minister Ravi K recommended Arjuna Mahendan as Governor, CBSLJan. 26, 2015: President Sirisena appointed Singaporean Mahendran as Governor, CBSL.Feb. 26, 2015: Mahendran met ministers, Ravi K, Kabir H and UNP Chairman Malik S at CBSL, allegedly to discuss a massive fund requirement of Rs 18 bn (All three politicians were present when President Sirisena lambasted the UNP over treasury bond scams on Dec 16, 2018 at the Presidential Secretariat. PM Wickremesinghe and Mrs Wickremesinghe were also present.)Feb 27, 2015: First bond scam perpetrated. Within hours, those who mattered knew how PTL had carried out the operation in connivance with Mahendran. The PTL is a fully owned subsidiary of Perpetual Capital (Pvt) Limited, owned by Geoffrey Joseph Aloysius and Arjun Joseph Aloysius. The Central Bank was under the purview of Premier Wickremesinghe, though previously it functioned under the Finance Ministry. June 26, 2015: Sirisena dissolved parliament to thwart CoPE presenting its report on treasury bond scam. General election set for Aug. 17, 2015. (President Sirisena paid a very heavy price for his action).The dissolution prevented the CoPE Chairman Dew Gunasekera from presenting his report on the first treasury bond scam. In a related action, UNP Deputy Justice Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe moved court to bar Gunasekera from releasing his report to the media.The writer sought an explanation from Gunasekera, in January this year, at a media briefing, as to the responsibility of Sirisena and the SLFP in the second bond scam, perpetrated on March 29, 2016. Asked whether, a far bigger second treasury bond scam could have been prevented if not for the dissolution of parliament in June 2015; Gunasekera said that question should be posed to President Sirisena as he had done so. Nov 16, 2017: Evidence at the Bond Commission revealed how Arjun Aloysius had been in touch with some members of the COPE during its hearings.Aloysius had spoken a total of 227 times to Sujeewa Senasinghe, 18 times with Dayasiri Jayasekara, 176 times with Harshana Rajakaruna and 73 times to Hector Appuhamy during the period commencing January 2015. Nov 20, 2017: Wickremesinghe received kid glove treatment at P-CoI with AG Jayantha Jayasuriya assigned to question him. But Wickremesinghe’s affidavits received by P-CoI in response to questions sent to him by the P-CoI and the AG’s department and PM’s responses to AG Jayasuriya established the UNP’s leader’s complicity and failure to thwart the scams beyond doubt. However, Wickremesinghe and the UNP have repeatedly denied involvement whatsoever in bond scams.  Strangely throughout this period, Western powers conveniently refrained from publicly commenting on the bond scam though they worked overtime to discredit the previous Rajapaksa administration with the US pledging to help Sri Lanka recover stolen funds. India also pledged to assist yahapalana efforts. In fact, the current political leadership certainly owed an explanation to the public as to how Mahendran, Aloysius and PTL CEO Kasun Palisena had committed the second bond scam, 13 months after the first. Obviously, they had been so sure that nothing could go wrong. Most probably, they believed Mahendran was going to have his own term as the Governor after having completed the period allocated to his predecessor Ajith Nivard Cabraal. Cabraal quit immediately after the Jan 2015 presidential polls.The public should be grateful to former CBSL Senior Deputy Governor Dr W. A. Wijewardena, and the media for relentlessly pursuing the treasury bond scamsDec 30, 2017: P-CoI report handed over to Sirisena.Jan. 4, 2018: Sirisena addressed the nation regarding the P-CoI report. Sirisena mounted a devastating attack on the UNP over treasury bond scams in the run-up to the Feb. 10 local government polls. Sirisena’s strategy caused heavy damage to the UNP at the Feb. 10 polls.  (Concluded)

2 Responses to “YAHAPALANA AND CORRUPTION Part 3D”

  1. Christie Says:

    We Sinhalese have to understand what India and Indian Parasites are doing to the Majority Sinhalese.

    What have Indian Parasites done to natives in their colonies?

    We have to free ourselves from Indian Empire and Indian colonists and the Indian Empire.

  2. A Concerned Citizen Says:

    Agreed with Christie. The entire problem is our country has been sold to the Indians. And its politics, its governance, its management style/civil service/public sector have been Indianised. That is why we have gone from an honourable style of governance at independence to Indian style corruption.

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