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JVP demands action against all “white-collar criminals” behind bond scam, from 2006 to 2016

ECONOMYNEXT – Armed with evidence presented in the recently-tabled forensic audit report, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) demanded that former Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) governors Arjuna Mahendran and Ajith Nivaad Cabral be tried in court in connection with the so called bond scam.

JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti, who chaired the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) that probed the alleged bond scam, accused what he called a ring of white-collar criminals hailing from influential families of committing “daylight robbery” of people’s hard earned money. Their financial crimes, he said, has cost the country billions of rupees between 2002 and 2015 in irregular direct placements and auctions of treasury bond issuance, in addition to huge losses incurred by the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF).

According to findings revealed in the audit reports that were compiled by international auditors KPMG and BDO India, the scope of the bond scam is wider than initially anticipated, with losses and irregularities that allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2016 amounting to several billions of rupees. Mahendran was CBSL governor from 2015 to 2016 until he was replaced by Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy following allegations of the former’s involvement in insider trading, while Cabral’s tenure was from 2006 to 2015 during the then Rajapaksa administration.

Handunnetti told reporters today that the alleged scam is the biggest financial crime in the country’s history.

Pointing to a “family tree” of individuals who can all trace links to Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL), the company at the centre of the scandal, the MP said the government, if it is serious about bringing the culprits to book, can take legal action against everyone involved across the entirety of the period under investigation. Individuals he mentioned by name include Cabral, his sister, his brother and brother-in-law, in addition to Mahendran and his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius who once controlled PTL, as well as its CEO Kasun Palisena.

“The evidence is now available in the form of these forensic reports, which were compiled just so that they can be presented in court as evidence,” Handunnetti said, stressing that there was no reason to hold back, since 6.9 million voters have mandated this exact course of action.

The JVP MP also warned the United National Party (UNP), under whose term in power that Mahendran ran CBSL, not to use the revelations made in the forensic audit reports to distract the public from the party’s own culpability.

“The UNP may try to use this to their advantage saying ‘look, it wasn’t just us; they robbed it too’. One thief can’t get away saying the other guy is a thief too. They’re both thieves. This was done together. They’re all part of a single club,” he said.

Handunetti urged Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to take swift action using the reports as evidence in court.

“Don’t waste time till the upcoming elections. The government has the power to do this. Start the judiciary process now,” he said. (Colombo/Jan24/2020)

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