March 2016 Bonds Scam: Trial to go ahead without two accused

Arjuna Mahendran

The Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday decided to proceed with the case, in connection with the 2016 Central Bank Treasury Bonds auction scam, sans the presence of two accused, ex-CBSL Governor Arjuna Mahendran and a former director of Primary Dealer Perpetual Treasuries Limited, Ajahn Gardiya Punchihewa.

The legal matter pertaining to criminal misappropriation of bonds valued at Rs 15 billion during the Central Bank Treasury Bond auction held between 29 March and 31 March 2016, where ex-Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake is one of the accused, was taken up before Judges Amal Ranaraja, Namal Balalle, and Adithya Patabendige yesterday.

Senior State Counsel Lakmini Girihagama, representing the prosecution, told the Bench that the third and the ninth accused in the case – Mahendran and Punchihewa – are currently on the run in foreign countries.

Accordingly, she sought the approval of the Bench to proceed with the case in the absence of the duo, under the provisions of Article 458 of Code of Criminal Procedure.

The request made by State Counsel Girihagama was accepted by the Bench. Mahendran is one of the major suspects wanted by the authorities in connection with the Central Bank Treasury Bond scam case.

The others indicted by the AG in the trial before the HC are Arjun Joseph Aloysius, Kasun Palisena, Geoffrey Joseph Aloysius, Chitta Ranjan Hulugalle, Muthuraja Surendran and Saman Kumara.

In March this year, Attorney General Dappula de Livera had made clarifications to his Singaporean counterpart for a third time regarding the request of deporting the former Central Bank Governor.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had forwarded the extradition request on Mahendran, to the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore in September 2019.

The extradition request was subsequently forwarded to the Government of Singapore for necessary action.

Meanwhile, later in 2020, the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) informed Sri Lanka that the former Central Bank Governor had changed his name to ‘Harjan Alexander’.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Hansi Nanayakkara)