Appuhamy admits to communicating with Aloysius Denies wrongdoing

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By 2017-11-18

BY Ruwan Laknath Jayakody

Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Member, United National Party (UNP) MP Hector Appuhamy, who was recently revealed to have had communications with Perpetual Treasuries Limited owner Arjun Aloysius, while COPE was probing into the Central Bank Bonds scam, yesterday urged that non-COPE MPs who have had similar communications should also be investigated.

Appuhamy admitted to having had communications with Aloysius during this period in his capacity as a friend and fellow businessman.

"I met Aloysius at a party through a business friend of mine and have known him for a long time now."

Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera has admitted to have received calls for help from Aloysius but has stated that he had refused to comply with the requests while Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera has denied having had any communications with Aloysius.

When queried as to whether he was not mindful of the obvious conflict of interest involved in the fact that as a Member of a Committee which was investigating an issue in which Aloysius was involved to a certain degree, his answer was twofold.

"Firstly, as a novice MP barely two years in Parliament and one who was inexperienced in matters pertaining to COPE, it is absurd to think or suggest that I wielded power to influence matters or mislead the probe in any way. At no point did Aloysius ask me for help and neither did I help him in this regard within or outside the COPE. Secondly, although I cannot say with 100 per cent certainty that such was the case, there is a high probability that I may have discussed certain matters pertaining to the issue in an offhand manner. As such, there was never anything intentional or premeditated in whatever that was asked from me."

When questioned about his involvement in the 'footnote gang', he explained that they had done so for two reasons. One being that they opposed what they felt was an attempt to lay the blame at the UNP and to thereby sling mud at the Party. The other being that they wanted all Treasury Bonds issues that had taken place since 2008 to be investigated comprehensively.

The reason we believe that during the period of the former regime there were bigger problems with regard to the issuance of Treasury Bonds and bigger crimes committed, he added. "We did not want the old cases to be swept under the carpet. We wanted all matters, past and present, to be taken up. Plus, we were opposed to what was being discussed in the COPE being revealed to the media or anyone prior to the completion of the inquiry," he explained.

"The Commission summoned me and an interview was conducted. The COPE inquiry focused on the Central Bank Treasury Bonds issue, what happened prior to the Bonds issue, and the role of former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran. Aloysius was not really in the picture at that time. Aloysius was not summoned to the COPE under Handunnetti either. I signed the COPE report. In fact, it is our report that was subsequently discussed at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating the Treasury Bonds issue. They got our telephone numbers because we are in the COPE. What about the MPs who are not in the COPE? They may also have had dealings with Aloysius."

Meanwhile, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has agreed to a request by Handunnetti to conduct an investigation into the five COPE Members including State Minister UNPer Sujeewa Senasinghe and UNP MP Harshana Rajakaruna.

"I will cooperate 100 per cent with any inquiry and investigation by the COPE or the Presidential Commission or the Speaker," Appuhamy further said.

Rajakaruna was not available for a comment.

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