PCoI concludes Treasury Bonds probe Steve Samuels becomes emotional during questioning

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By 2017-10-18

The official recording of evidence at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Treasury Bonds auction at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka came to a conclusion yesterday (17). Commission Chairperson Supreme Court Justice K.T. Chitrasiri marking the final evidence examined noted that the Commission may reconvene if testimony arising from any additional material evidence calls for more hearings.

He also said, that an official request has been submitted to President Maithripala Sirisena to extend the 27 October deadline, in view of this matter.

Commissioner Chitrasiri pointed out that since the establishment of the Commission, which commenced hearing evidence on 21 February 2017, it has spent 121 days listening to evidence put forward by 64 witnesses and has collected 450 documents.

He also noted that a questionnaire has been forwarded to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, requesting an affidavit, on certain matters regarding the Commission's inquiry.

Acting Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC responding to the Commissioner's remarks thanked his team appointed by the Attorney General for their work. He added that the Attorney General's Department will continue to meet and interview witnesses further – as mentioned by him previously, where he said there are some 20 witnesses that should be called before the Commission.

Commissioner Supreme Court Justice Prasanna Jayawardene responding to this comment said, "We will not hesitate to have another hearing to get to the bottom of this."

Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda, expressing his views, said that the forensic act of extracting information from electronic devices was a pioneering moment in the judicial history of the country. Therefore, he commented that the officers who carried out the investigations should be commended for their work. Prior to the wrap up, Commission heard evidence from PTL's Arjun Aloysius's personal assistant Steve Samuels, who denied any knowledge of who 'RK' and 'AM' referred to in texts and emails sent from his phones to Aloysius. An emotional Samuels was questioned after being discharged from hospital earlier this week where he was recuperating from a minor heart attack.

He was led in evidence by Senior State Counsel

Dr. Avanthi Perera on a number of text messages and emails, extracted from his phone, which had been sent to Arjun Aloysius.

These text messages make various references to individuals known as 'RK', 'AM' and 'PM' which he denied of any knowledge as to their true identities. At one point however, he noted that 'AM' was a reference he had for Anjali Mahendran – daughter of the former Central Bank Governor and wife of Aloysius.

He was also questioned regarding certain files named 'RK/To-do list' and 'AM/To-do list' which had been maintained by PTL, also which Samuels denied having in possession.

In response to this, ASG Kodagoda inquired from the Commission whether they were to accept the witness has conveniently forgotten these references he has made in correspondence and accused the witness of lying. Commissioner Jayawardene acknowledged that the Commission is aware of the fact that the witness had accepted writing the text messages and emails.

However, he emphasized that he would not accuse the witness of lying to the Commission under oath due to the risk of prejudgement and therefore will take necessary steps in conclusion.

Samuels however, maintained that he was not lying.

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