General Secretary of the Communist Party D. E. W. Gunasekera yesterday said that the top UNP leadership couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for the bond scams.
Gunasekera said so addressing the media at the Communist Party headquarters in Borella.
The former minister said he had earlier addressed the media as the Chairman of the 13-member COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) that proved the first bond scam in 2015 February.
They perpetrated the first treasury bond scam on Feb 27, 2015, on the 50th day of 100-day yahapalana government, Gunasekera said.
Gunasekera paid a glowing tribute to those members of both the print and electronic media who had relentlessly followed the treasury bond scam. “Let me explain the phenomenal growth of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd (PTL) since its establishment in 2013 during the previous administration. Having launched operations with Rs. 300 mn as capital, how could PTL manage to obtain Rs. 11 bn in profits within five months?”
Gunasekera said that PTL had received Central Bank recognition as the 16th primary dealer authorised to operate in the lucrative treasury bond market.
The PTL group wielded political influence at the highest level, Gunasekera said, alleging that a spate of attempts had been made to sabotage the inquiry until the very end.
Gunasekera pointed out that PTL had earned profits at the expense of the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), National Savings Bank, Mahapola Scholarship Fund and Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC). The PTL had, with political backing, borrowed from the state and then the same funds were given back at a higher interest, Gunasekera said. He said it was absurd for the government to borrow funds through a third party from state institutions.
The Communist Party Leader said there had never been a bigger scam than the treasury bond racket and the alleged complicity of the UNP leadership therein had come to light within weeks of the first scam.
Gunasekera faulted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for appointing a three-member committee comprising UNP lawyers to inquire into the issue.
Alleging that the lawyers lacked knowledge or expertise to handle such an investigation, Gunasekera.
“PM Wickremesinghe should take the responsibility for that attempt to misdirect the inquiry,” Gunasekera alleged.
As an influential section of Parliament had refused to accept the UNP report, the then Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa had intervened to set up a 13-member COPE team to speedily inquire into the alleged fraud. Gunasekera said that the parliament had been dissolved to prevent the presentation of his report with UNP MP Sujeewa Senasinghe moving District court of Colombo to restrain Gunasekera from releasing it ahead of parliamentary polls in 2015 August.
A smiling Gunasekera said that the case was pending and would come up next month.
Asked by The Island whether the second bond scam in March 2016 could have been prevented if not for the dissolution of parliament, Gunasekera said that question should be posed to President Sirisena as the latter had done so.
Gunasekera acknowledged that the political situation at that time, too, should be taken into consideration when the dissolution of parliament was examined.
The events leading to the treasury bond scam including the appointment of UNP leader Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister while Mahinda Rajapaksa still had a two thirds majority in Parliament were mind-boggling, Gunasekera said
The group loyal to Rajapaksa had failed to come to terms with what had taken place even three years after the war winning President’s defeat, said Gunasekera, adding that he had strongly advised President Rajapaksa not to call early polls and when he was ignored a public warning was given through the media. Only The Island had reported his warning in early Oct. 2014 to President Rajapaksa, Gunasekera told the media.
Appreciating the presidential commission members, SC judges, K. T. Chitrasiri, Prasanna Jayawardena, and former deputy Auditor General Velupillai as well as incumbent Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe, top AG Department officials, including Senior Additional Solicitor General Dappula de Livera and Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda as well as the Deputy Auditor General Chula Wickremaratne, who assisted the first COPE commission, Gunasekera praised the then head of the public debt department Deepa Seneviratne for serving the interests of the nation.
Gunasekera said the bond scams wouldn’t have come to light without the expert opinion given by former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Dr. W. A. Wijewardena.
He ended the media briefing with dire warning that the country would never get an opportunity to clean up the society if President Sirisena failed to go all out to achieve that goal.
Emphasizing that if the President had appointed a commission with judicial powers, those responsible could have been promptly dealt with, Gunasekera said that still the President’s action was laudable against the backdrop of his political alliance with the UNP.
Gunasekera compared President Sirisena’s actions with that of SWRD Bandaranaike in 1959 against three corrupt members of his cabinet.
(Source: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)