ECONOMYNEXT – The Mahapola Fund has lost a whopping LKR673mn because it has not received the cash from the sale of an online lottery which was sold through an intermediary Parliament’s Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE) has found.
In a press release COPE said its Chairman Prof Charitha Herath has instructed officials to refer the matter to the Attorney General to conduct an investigation as this was large scale corruption.
The Secretary to the Ministry of Trade Bhadrani Jayawardena was directed to refer the matter so that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) can conduct a formal inquiry.
The instructions came at a COPE meeting held last week and attended by State Ministers Susil Premajayanth, Dr Nalaka Godahewa, Members of Parliament Eran Wickramaratne, Nalin Bandara Jayamaha, Premnath C. Dolawatta and S.M Marikkar.
The money should have accrued to the Mahapola High Educational Scholarship Trust Fund which hands out cash to students who cannot afford University and living costs.
In addition, the fund has made significant losses due to insufficient capital gains on securities transactions of companies under the Mahapola Trust Fund.
Losses in 2015 and 2016 amounted to LKR 120mn, the committee was told.
Officials said that the Cabinet had approved the liquidation of these institutions as it was not necessary to continue running at a loss. However, Herath noted that although it would not be a problem to liquidate after punishing the culprits, it would not be appropriate to liquidate these institutions without proper investigation in the situation of such large-scale fraud.
COPE decided to study the two organisations namely the National Wealth Corporation and the National Wealth Securities Corporation, and summon them before COPE as soon as possible.
The current situation of the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) was also discussed, the statement said. COPE expressed its displeasure over the fact that even though the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) had been summoned before the Committee it had informed the COPE through Julius & Creasy law firm that it had not been legally obligated to do so. Thus, the COPE decided that Julius & Creasy institute should be summoned first to resolve the matter.
Accordingly, the COPE Committee further recommended that as SLIIT is an institution of national importance, after preparing an internal report as an extension of the discussion on that institution and reporting it to Parliament, it would be appropriate to decide on the action to be taken in this regard.
Further, it was revealed that the institution does not have an internal auditor and an accountant. The COPE Committee recommended that action be taken to fill this vacancy as soon as possible. (Colombo, January 12, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana