Pressure mounts as Politicians search for 118 list of bond scam beneficiaries
Secretary to the President, Austin Fernando says the advice of the Attorney General has been sought on releasing the complete report of the presidential commission on the Central Bank treasury bond scam.
Investigations carried out by the Criminal Investigations Department over the bond scam revealed Former Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara had been given money by one of the companies of Perpetual Treasuries Group. Thereafter, Minister Jayasekera said 118 others had benefited as well.
Some civil organisations and groups claim the unpublished documents of the bond commission report include the names of those who benefited. Speaking the matter, Austin Fernando said he does not know about 118 names but did reveal that pages 35 to 67 contain a list of 600 to 700 documents and names of recordings.
He said in certain areas of the commission report it said the Attorney General, CID or the Bribery Commission should institute further legal action and that he cannot speak on certain sensitive materials. Fernando went on to note that even though Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera has requested details, he is unable to provide anything without consulting the Attorney General or the Director General of the Bribery Commission.
Executive Director of CaFFE Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said the government and the opposition are making a collective effort to conceal the report. Tennakoon said they want to expose the names of 164 people and how Rs. 1.3 billion was distributed.
POLITICIANS TRY TO CLEAR THEIR NAMES
A number of Politicians speaking to News1st claimed that they had not received money or obtained money from PTL or its associated companies.
In this backdrop the leader of National Freedom Front MP Wimal Weerawansa in a letter to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has requested that the list of 118 MPs who are alleged to have taken money from Perpetual Treasuries be produced in Parliament at a future parliamentary sitting. Weerawansa notes if this is not done, it would breach the rights and privileges of the MPs who are not involved in this scam.
Meanwhile, Minister Malik Samarawickrama says he is reliably informed that certain sections of social media are naming Members of Parliament supposed to have received funds from Perpetual Treasuries Limited or their Associate Companies or Arjun Aloysius. He said he is also informed that his name is among those.
Minister Samarawickrama in a letter addressed to the Secretary to President Austin Fernando, wrote that he categorically states he had not received any money from the above-mentioned companies or person as stated by him under oath while giving evidence before the presidential commission. Samarawickrama requests the Secretary to the President to publish the names of all those who had received funds if such a list is included in the Bond Commission Report or available with the Attorney General’s Department or the law enforcement authorities.
THE BREAKFAST MEETING
The breakfast meeting which took place on 26th of February 2015, a day before the controversial treasury bond auction took place, was a topic which raised serious concern over the recent past. This meeting was attended by then Governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran and several other officials and included Malik Samarawickrama as well.
Notably, at the time Malik Samarawickrama was only the Chairman of the United National Party and did not hold any ministerial portfolio. When COPE was probing the matter, many suspicious details over this breakfast meeting were exposed and it was later revealed the meeting discussed the payment for road development projects and obtain the funds from the bond auction. However, the matter of the breakfast meeting was not thoroughly looked in to at the bond commission or other inquiries.
Why did Malik Samarawickrama, who was only the Chairman of a party attend this meeting? What instructions did he provide at the meeting for the bond auction which was fixed for the next day? Samarawickrama says he did not benefit from Perpetual Treasuries or Arjun Aloysius, however under what position did he intervene in the bond issuance?
OUTCOMES OF SIMILAR INCIDENTS OVERSEAS
In 1994, in what became known as the cash-for-questions affair, Popular businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed revealed the names of MPs he had paid to ask questions in parliament on his behalf, but who had failed to declare their fees.
It saw the Conservative MPs Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith leave the government in disgrace, and a committee on standards in public life being established to prevent such corruption occurring again. Fayed also revealed the cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken had stayed for free at a hotel in Paris at the same time as a group of Saudi arms dealers leading to Aitken’s subsequent unsuccessful libel case and imprisonment for perjury.
The furore prompted the then-prime minister of the UK John Major to instigate the Nolan Committee to review the issue of standards in public life.
When will Sri Lanka see the dawn of a similar honourable system of politics, where those who obtained benefits accepted their responsibility and stepped down from their positions?