COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – The chairman of Sri Lanka’s ruling United National Party was at a controversial Treasury bond auction where insider fraud is alleged, opposition leader Nimal Siriapala de Silva charged in parliament.
A report by a three-member committee that probed the bond sale, where the initial offer was raised 10 times and half the volume given to a firm linked to the son-in-law of Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran found no ‘direct’ involvement by him in the award.
But opposition leader de Silva charged in parliament during an adjournment debate Thursday that the Governor personally saw the bids.
"He was there. Not only he, but bigwigs connected to the United National Party were there," he told parliament.
"This report has not inquired into that. Wasn’t (UNP Chairman) Malik Samarawickrema there? If he was not there, it should be investigated and said that no one from the UNP was there."
"It has not been said. Why? It cannot be denied."
De Silva said the probe report had not mentioned a single word that Perpetual Treasuries was connected to the son-in-law of Mahendran.
"That is why I say that this is an ‘eye wash’," de Silva charged.
He said the blame instead had been laid at the door of the Bank of Ceylon, through which bids had been placed for the Treasury bond auction.
According to the report, Perpetual Treasuries bid two billion rupees on its own account and 13 billion through the Bank of Ceylon.
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said during the ousted Rajapaksa regime no committees had been appointed to inquire into any allegation against the Central Bank.
He said even primary dealers in government securities who had complained about the 30-year bond deal had told the three-member committee that selling gilts outside the auction process as practised during the last regime was wrong.