Treasury Bonds Probe PM told Aloysius to resign from PTL
BY Kavindya Chris Thomas
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (20) asserted that it was he who initially observed that there was a conflict of interest between Owner of Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL), Arjun Aloysius and the then Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and had requested Aloysius to vacate his position at the PTL in 2015.
Making history yesterday (20), Premier Wickremesinghe became the first Prime Minister to appear and testify before a fact finding Commission. He was the last witness to testify before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing the Central Bank Treasury Bonds auctions.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was accompanied by his attorney President's Counsel Faisz Musthapha.
The Prime Minister was summoned to give clarifications to the answers given via an affidavit to 48 questions submitted by the Commission and the Attorney General's Department officials, assisting the Commission. The Commission further noted that 13 questions from the second questionnaire had been disallowed on the grounds of not falling within the Commission's mandate.
In his affidavit, the Premier had noted that he had insisted that Mahendran, prior to his appointment as the Governor of the Central Bank in 2015, ensure that Aloysius resigns from the directorial position of the PTL and that Aloysius would not involve himself with business activities. To which Mahendran, according to the Prime Minister, had given his assurance. The Premier had also requested Aloysius to leave the PTL due to the apparent conflict of interest and had relied on the assurance given by Mahendran.
However, Wickremesinghe accepted that he was unaware of the shareholding structure at the Perpetual group in which Aloysius had invested in. He also asserted that he was unaware that Aloysius had continued to be a director and a shareholder of the two holding companies attached to PTL, even after January 2015. The Prime Minister added that Aloysius had requested for more time to dispose of the shares at the PTL.
Despite the usual scenario where the witness would be questioned by Additional Solicitors Generals Dappula de Livera, PC and Yasantha Kodagoda PC, yesterday's proceedings saw the Attorney General Jayanath Jayasuriya PC taking the stand to question the witness.
In his second affidavit, the Prime Minister had noted that he believed that Mahendran acted in good faith with regard to the assurances given to him.
Attorney General Jayasuriya: "However, there were, at the later stages, occasions such as when MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage made a statement in Parliament regarding the continuation of the conflict of interest situation. You expected Mahendran to have honoured the assurances given to you. Was there any opportunity for you to verify whether those assurances were met with?"
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe: "This [the controversial Treasury Bonds auction] happened at the end of February 2015. And I spoke to him earlier in January 2015. And he [Aloysius] said he was going to spend his time developing the W. M. Mendis distilleries business. He did once or twice speak to me and showed me the new products when I went for some parties where such were being served (the gathering laughs). That was all that I knew. Other than that I did not know his affairs. The same thing Mahendran said. This conflict of interest issue is something we raised."
The Prime Minister noted that it was they who had raised the question that a relative of the Central Bank Governor of the previous Government had held a directorial position at the PTL. He also asserted that he had no information that Mahendran had deliberately misled him, on the matter of the conflict of interest issue.
"The Gamini Pitipana Committee did not have information to that effect and I do not think even the seventh Committee on Public Enterprises inquiry had any findings on that matter," he opined. He added that he took no steps to address the matter once it reached the Parliament which according to him had control over public finances.
The Prime Minister was also questioned regarding the transition from obtaining private placements to public auctions. According to Wickremesinghe's affidavit answers, he had informed the then Governor Mahendran to do so. This raised another follow up question as to whether this decision should have been taken by the Monetary Board to which the Premier's response was that it was constitutional to forward directives through the Cabinet in line with the Government's policies. He noted that this fiscal power lies with the Parliament.
Following this the Premier was questioned on the telephone conversations, that had taken place on 27 February 2015, between him and former Governor Mahendran as well. Asserting that he does not answer the particular phone number on which he was contacted, Wickremesinghe however noted that the conversations he had had with Mahendran during the said period led to his (Wickremesinghe) being informed about the auction and the amount that was raised from the bids.
Attorney General Jayasuriya also asked Prime Minister Wickremesinghe whether any kind of policy decision had been taken to request all State banks to bid at low yield rates during the Treasury bonds auctions. The question was put to Wickremesinghe following the evidence that was put forward earlier claiming that former Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake had allegedly requested State banks to bid at low yield rates.
"No, there were no policy decisions. State banks were told not to get into speculative bidding and speculative bidding was discouraged. Beyond that, we maintained the principle to let the market determine the rates," the Premier noted. He also denied awareness of Karunanayake's meetings with the State banks.
The Commission proceedings saw the presence of a large number of Ministers and Parliamentarians who accompanied the Prime Minister. Ministers P. Harrison, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, John Amaratunga, Ajith P. Perera, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Tilak Marapana PC, Niroshan Perera, Arjuna Ranatunga, Nalin Bandara, Eran Wickremaratne, Mangala Samaraweera, Malik Samarawickrama, Sagala Ratnayaka, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Gayantha Karunatileke, Sajith Premadasa, Mano Ganesan, Kabir Hashim, Sarath Fonseka, Naveen Dissanayake, Daya Gamage and Advisor to the Prime Minister Rosy Senanayake were all present for yesterday's proceedings.
Following the conclusion of his one-hour testimony, the Premier briefly addressed the media that was gathered outside the Commission premises. "I was given an opportunity to clarify many matters before the Commission, including those of the country's economic policies and certain aspects the country is facing. We came here today in order to take forward the good governance movement. We have nothing to hide. We might have made mistakes and have shortcomings. But the drive goes forward," he opined.
The Commission of Inquiry officially closed evidence hearing and terminated the reception of evidence with the intent of engaging solely in continuing with the preparation of the final report. Accordingly, the Commission is expected to submit the final report to President Maithripala Sirisena on or before 8 December.
Solution must be acceptable to Tamils Separate State is not a reasonable request - Former Army Commander, General Gerry De Silva RWP, VSV, USP
- Beetle in Lankan tea shipment to Russia Exporter to be spared says Pethiyagoda
- Canadian Police probe ‘suspicious’ deaths of billionaire couple
- Stock Market Investor losses extend to Rs 94B
- Use of polythene in political rallies CEA to take on offenders
- Draft Legislation HRCSL advice not sought – UN Experts
- Drugs and drug users on the increase
- No NICs for 500,000 Lankans 300,000 are registered voters Bulk without birth certificates
- Growth decelerates to 3.3%
- UN damns Lanka 14,000 minors in childcare centres Calls for urgent reforms
- Russia restricts Lanka tea over beetle scare Top-level delegation off to Moscow
- Call to criminalize marital rape Justice Ministry seeks Cabinet approval
- Jumbo killings Armed protection unit to be set up Fines, jail terms to be increased
- Crossovers loom prior to polls
- SC issues notice on Elections Chief
- Jilted SLFP shuns JO forever
- CEB TU threatens strike Gives 18th as ultimatum
- Gnanasara Thera’s request for foreign travel denied
- Chinese envoy says OBOR will take Sino-Lanka ties to new level
- Police Chief in pre-poll warning Errant officers will be dealt with strictly
- Court extends Stay Order on Gota case
- Sriyani as State Minister of PCs and LG JO crossover pledged support for MS
- Rains to prevail Landslide warning to Galle, Kalutara to be reviewed
- BJP lauds ‘Ram Setu’ findings Hits out at critics
- Two held for impersonation at exam centre
- Female Genital Mutilation Advice sought from medical experts
- Visakhapatnam will favour the home team Batsmen to dominate decider
- Jadeja hits six sixes in an over
- Ntini’s son Thando in SA U-19 World Cup squad
- Neves stunner guides Wolves
- Westbrook nets triple double for Thunder
- Don’t see me making a WI comeback - Dwayne Bravo
- FIFA threatens to boot Spain out of World Cup
- SL lose two matches in T10s
- Army can dominate Air Force
- Smith and Marsh put attack to sword
- Sri Lanka play two Tests and Tri series in Bangladesh
- Chiefs winners in Kandy 10s
- Interesting battle at Havelock Park
- Thurstan win inaugural golf tourney
- History making Pulisic US men’s footballer of the year
- Knicks down Nets despite early exit for Porzingis
- 34th Mercantile Individual Tournament 2017 McLarens shuttlers Overall Champions
- Retired Hewitt takes tilt at Aussie Open doubles
- Lamborghini World Final 2017 Malagamuwa finishes third
- Committee clears Thilaka as SL coach
- Govt backtracks on anti-coal policy Two 600MW coal plants coming up
- Lankan company in pioneering global innovation
- Increasing worker remittances: Not a sign of prosperity
- Russian ban on Sri Lankan tea imports Navin to rush to Russia Ban comes into effect tomorrow, despite preventive efforts
- Dialog, RPC in CSE’s S&P SL20
- ADB loans Government US$ 270 million
- Japan expands unilateral sanctions against North Korea
- Purchasing Managers’ Index accelerates
- THASL educates Deputy Principals on Hospitality Management
- Financial Intelligence Unit signs MoU with Sri Lanka Police
- US Embassy & ICTA organize Knowledge Sharing Session
- CIM announces 2017 Board of Trustees CIM to be headed by leading marketing talent from across the industry
- Bolstering tourism: Starting from the top
- HNB wins two at CA Sri Lanka Annual Report Awards 2017
- Subhash Pinnapola launches ‘Storybook’ creative agency
- Mother Sri Lanka Movement launches series of activities
- Assets for debt, a flawed strategy
- Envisioning the future of Digital Banking
- Bank of Ceylon launches digital passbook
- Siyapatha Finance opens new branch in Panadura
- Protect Wilpattu Movement set in motion 5K strong turnout march in peaceful protest to UN office & handover petition
- Concretes & Abstracts Faith, Wayside Shrines & Urban Sprawl
- TGTE using Lawyers to challenge SL’s 6th amendment
- Christmas cheer is in the air!
- So, this is Christmas!
- New Land Draft BiLL Political wrangling hinders ironing out complex land issues
- We (don’t) need a Messiah Champika has failed to maintain what Mangala designed and Gota delivered
- M12M on the campaign trail Spotlight on polls and criminal elements
- Lord Naseby vs the Sri Lanka Campaign War is over, but body count debate continues
- Women’s quota in LG elections Historic opportunity Elect qualified, capable women– not wives & relatives of thugs
- Maithri should not sit in a Cabinet sans SLFPers
- Wigneswaran sowing seeds of communalism
- SLFP supports devolution of power – Lasantha Alagiyawanna
- If Bond scammers are not prosecuted…President will lose his credibility –Bandula Gunawardena
- All information security issues are not cyber crimes
- Sirisena Presidency - A Parallax View As foretold by Sobhitha Hamuduruwo
- Blessed are the peacemakers
- Disinformation campaigns and public mistrust
- Kemadruma Yoga An evil yoga cancelling all other favourable yogas
- Sun into Sagittarius ‘Kona Month’ has just begun
- Inviting wrath of goddess Lakshmi
- Five Yoga Poses to Calm Your Mind
- Rahu in 7th House and marriage
- The Disaster Artist: The (un)making of a movie
- Our children and our cinema
- INTERPRETING ASIAN CINEMA: CHALLENGES AHEAD
- How Sanskrit journalism is slowly hogging headlines
- ice manufacturing in South Asia
- CMSC’s season finale concert
- Two documentaries on Sri Lanka in Film South Asia 2017
- Politics of nostalgia
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- I don’t get asked out
- Homemade apple & Chocolate Bodywash
- THE WRITER’S KITCHENETTE HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS CUPCAKES Grinch Cupcakes
- New York Blast Terror charges filed against NY bomber
- Saga of Kohukumbure Rate Rala
- Attygalle murder and John Kotelawala Senior’s suicide