Hemasiri summoned before PCoI on corruption at PB
Posted on October 17th, 2019

 Mirudhula Thambiah Courtesy Ceylon Today

Summons have been sent to former Chairman of the People’s Bank Hemasiri Fernando yesterday (14) to appear before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating corruption in the current administration on 18 October.

The PCoI yesterday (14) investigated an allegation that the People’s Bank had lost a significant sum of money during its attempt to digitise operations in 2016.

Testifying before the PCoI, an official of the Auditor’s General Department, Chamali Indika, who examined an audit query on the digitisation operation said that they had raised a number of issues about the procurement process.

To which the Chairman of the PCoI, retired Supreme Court Judge, Upali Abeyrathne queried from the witness whether the Bank has to follow Government procurement guidelines during such a project.

The witness said that the Bank provided them with an April 1992 circular which stated that the Bank can come up with its own guidelines with regard to the procurement of goods and services.

To which, Abeyrathne said.”But is this a procurement of goods and services? This falls under the execution of works category. The April 1992 circular does not exempt the Bank from this category. Therefore, the Bank has to adhere to the Government’s procurement guidelines.”

The witness clarified: “For example, they initially decided that a five member Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) must be appointed and that two of its members must come from outside the Bank.

However, later, they decided that all five members must come from the Bank. When we asked them why this decision was taken, they said that the decision was changed as specifications were set by the Bank.

Then, we asked them as to who had formulated these specifications and when, and they informed us that the specifications were given by the Silver Lake Company that was already working with the Bank on Information Technology matters. However, they failed to provide documents that were sent by Silver Lake,”

Accordingly, the PCoI was informed that decisions on the digitisation process were taken by the Executive Officers Committee (EOC) and that the EOC had changed a number of initial decisions as the process went on.

 Mirudhula Thambiah

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