Protest planned over Sri Lanka’s controversial Central Bank Governor: activists

ECONOMYNEXT – Activists who went to court on Monday seeking to remove Sri Lanka’s Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran from office said they were planning a protest on June 23 over alleged insider dealing and rigging of bond auctions as attempts were being made to defuse the crisis.

Keerthi Tennakoon, from the organization CaFFE who petitioned Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal seeking to remove Mahendran from office told reporters the administration had broken promises made for an impartial probe.

No independent probe can be expected while Mahendran continued to be in office he said.

Deputy Central Bank Governor P Samarasiri had denied information to the Parliament’s Committee on Public Enterprises, he said.

Central Bank Governor Mahendran has come under fire for rigging bond auctions to favour a firm owned by his son-in-law where unusually large volumes of long term bonds were sold at high interest rates (low prices).

Some of the bonds were then bought by the central bank managed Employees Provident Fund, which is also managed by the central bank at low interest rates (high prices).

Governor Mahendran had denied wrongdoing and defended the auctions of the EPF.

Tennakoon said suggestions put forward to have an acting governor was against the Monetary Law Act governing the central bank.

Champika Perera, representing an organization called Wamay Peramuna (Left Front), said a protest in front of the Central Bank was planned for June 23.

They would also start a signature campaign seeking to stop the re-appointment of Governor Mahendran.

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He charged that United National Party leadership had no right to sacrifice good governance (bili denna) and protect Mahendran.

Activists said there was no point is saying charges had not been proved, when there was 16 months of the government to have probed the issue and find the rights and wrongs.

Tennakoon said he was aware that a probe had been conducted by the Commission of Bribery and Corruption but its report is kept under wraps, much to the disappointment of people who expected better.

"We had high hopes for the Bribery and Corruption Commission," he said.

Meanwhile some activists said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed not to re-appoint Mahendran until a probe was carried out. (Colombo/June21/2016)

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