Gayan Kumara Weerasingha
Mt Lavinia Magistrate Harsha Setunga remanded Chairman Ceylinco Consolidated,
Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawala for two weeks in connection with the Golden
Key scam as he had said that he could not guarantee a plan to return
Rs 26 billion to depositors within 10 days.
CID investigations have revealed that Dr Kotelawala had set aside Rs
3.5 million every month from the Golden Key credit card company for
expenses in the chairmans office of Ceylinco Consolidated. He
had also allocated Rs 500, 000 for a special fund named Sarana, Rs 200,
000 for the Aratuwa newspaper, Rs 500, 000 for the Solo-U fund, and
Rs 400, 000 as director fees, on a monthly basis. Kotelawalas
wife, Sicille Kotelawala was paid Rs 250, 000 as director fees, and
Rs 4.5 million as gratuity every month. It is also alleged that she
had obtained a large gratuity payment from Golden Key company when she
left it, by falsely claiming that she had served 25 years with the company,
when in reality, she had served only 17. She had also undertaken many
trips overseas using money accrued to the Golden Key company.
All this was revealed during an investigation launched by the CID to ascertain what exactly happened to the Rs 26 billion deposited with the Golden Key credit card company. One of the reasons for the fraud at the Golden Key credit card company was irresponsible actions of its management, CID determined.
To Australia on multiple occasions
Kavan Perera had functioned as the chief executive of Golden Key (Pvt)
Ltd. He was also the deputy chairman of Golden Key. The CID has also
revealed that a financial fraud had also occurred in the establishment
of a company affiliated to Golden Key and in appointing a woman by the
name of Nandani Kumari to a senior position of the company. This woman
is alleged to have been a minor level official with Ceylinco Consolidated.
The affiliated company in question has been identified as Golden Key
Australia (Ltd), based in Melbourne. Kavan Perera is alleged to have
travelled with this woman to Australia on multiple occasions using money
from Golden Key every year --- and they had spent millions of rupees
during these trips. According to reports, Rs 144 million had been spent
on overseas trips alone.
The CID has also recovered details to the effect that a member of the
board of directors had deposited Rs 64 million in his own private bank
account claiming the money as salaries for staff of Golden Key, Australia.
The CID believes that such frauds, coupled with improper financial management
had contributed to the staggering Rs 26 billion loss at Golden Key.
The Rs 26 billion came from the money of 9217 depositors. Among the
depositors is a person who had deposited over Rs 100 million and another
who had deposited over Rs 200 million, both making a combined total
of over Rs370 million. 437 depositors have deposited amounts between
Rs 10 million and Rs 100 million. The total amount they have deposited
amounts to over Rs 800 million.
The Golden Key credit card company had spent Rs 6 billion out of the
Rs 26 million belonging to its 9217 depositors to open 49 affiliated
companies. The majority of these companies are simply limited to their
names only, and do not make any profit, Golden Key Australia (Pvt) Ltd
being one of them. The Golden Key credit card company had also spent
an additional Rs 17 billion to pay interest to its 9217 depositors.
The company had been paying annual interest between 21-29% to its depositors.
The remaining Rs 7 million was the money which the management had used
on overseas trips, withdrawn as gratuity and used for the various funds
that had been set up.
Nevertheless, the company is duty bound to pay the entire amount of
Rs 26 billion which it had taken from its depositors. However, under
the scheme which the company proposed to pay off their depositors, the
company hopes to return depositors money excluding interest which
it has already paid. This means that the company is proposing to pay
just Rs 13 billion, instead of Rs 26 billion.
Properties under Court care?
The Court is also considering placing all affiliated companies of Golden
Key and their properties under its own care. Sources from the attorney-generals
department stated that a decision on this is likely to be conveyed at
the next Court hearing on the case.
Meanwhile, officials are also making plans to change the CID team which
has so far handled the Golden Key case.
Up to now, the CIDs investigation division I, handled investigations.
Police Inspector P Vishvanadan is in charge of this division. His division
handled the investigations under the direction of a CID SP. However,
two police officers from outside the CID were later appointed to the
team, on instructions from the attorney-generals department. These
two officers were SSP V Indran of the organized crimes investigation
division at police headquarters and Chief Inspector Kamal Pushpakumara
of the special investigation division, bureau of foreign employment.
SSP Indran withdrew from the investigation a few days after assuming
duties and Chief Inspector Kamal Pushpakumara, on the 26th.
However, officials immediately took steps to appoint two other officers
to replace them --- SSP Eric Perera from the police anti-narcotics bureau
and SP D R L Ranaweera, who is the director of the police central anti-vice
squad based in Walana, Panadura. It was as a result of their investigations
that Kotelawala was arrested and remanded.
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