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Five forensic audits into EPF, Treasury bonds cost Rs.275mn: Central Bank

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s central bank said five forensic audits into the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and issuance of Treasury Bonds cost the taxpayer 275 million rupees.

The central bank in a statement said a cabinet appointed consultant procurement committee, with approval from the cabinet of ministers, selected audit firms with global practice and international experience in forensic audits.

Five forensic audits have been completed at a cost of 275 million rupees, while the procurement for the remaining audit is ongoing, the central bank said, in response to ‘misreporting in media’.

Several newspapers and television networks had quoted JVP and UNP parliamentarians saying that the forensic audits had cost 900 million rupees.

A presidential commission to investigate into the so-called bond scams of 2015 and 2016 recommended the commissioning of six forensic audits.

Controversial bond auctions saw Perpetual Treasuries, a firm owned by then Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran’s son-in-law Arjun Aloysius, buy large volumes of bonds beyond the announced levels at lower prices, and sell to state funds such as the EPF to generate billions in profits.

On Tuesday, the speaker said the five audits done so far will be tabled in parliament, after the Attorney General earlier blocked their publication, citing it would hinder future legal action against wrongdoers.

The audits cover primary and secondary bond market and equity market transactions of the Employees’ Provident Fund, which is the country’s largest pension fund for private sector employees under management of the central bank.

The EPF bond dealings cover a period from 2002 to 2015, while the equity audit cover 1998 to 2017. There are allegations that dealers pumped up listed stocks and dumped into the EPF in 2011, while the EPF also bought into unattractive unlisted equity.

The audits also cover the issuance of Treasury Bonds, the central bank’s supervision and regulation of primary dealers. (Colombo/Jan21/2020)

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