Minister Peiris refutes unfounded allegations against Ministry Secretary
The Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G.L. Peiris has strongly rejected malicious news reports appearing in certain sections of the media recently, imputing impropriety on the part of the Secretary to the Ministry, Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne in the award of a contract for the renovation of the official residence of Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva.
Issuing a Statement, Minister Peiris has stated that while wrongdoing should not go unpunished, it is important to ensure that officials performing their public duty in good faith are accorded legitimate protection. This is especially so, as public officials have limited opportunity to defend themselves, and unfounded and reckless allegations are bound to affect their morale.
The Minister further noted that it is a matter for deep regret that the gravest of allegations should have been hurled against a senior public official with such blatant irresponsibility and with so little regard for the truth.
The full text of the Minister’s Statement:
Extensive publicity has been given during the last few days to a series of allegations that Ms. Kshenuka Senewiratne, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, has been guilty of impropriety in connection with the award of a contract for the renovation of the official residence of the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in Geneva in 2009.
The attempt has also been made to heighten the gravity of the allegation by the assertion that the contract was awarded to a company, the owner of which was arrested by the Swiss Police for LTTE-connected activities.
While wrongdoing should certainly not go unpunished, it is important to ensure that officials performing their public duty in good faith, are accorded legitimate protection. This is so, especially because they have limited opportunity to defend themselves. Unfounded and reckless allegations are bound to have an adverse effect on morale.
The clearest example of this is the reference, in connection with the award of the contract, to a personality involved in activities of the LTTE.
The facts are quite different. Mr. U. L.M. Jauhar, Head of Chancery of the Sri Lanka Mission in Geneva at the time, addressed a letter on 12th April 2012 to Mr. Pierre-Yves Huguenin, of the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service, in the following terms:
“I am writing to you seeking your assistance to find information about a Sri Lankan expatriate of Tamil origin with regard to his alleged affiliation to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Network.
The Sri Lanka Mission in Geneva obtained the services of the Shelva Zug of Zurich, owned by Mr. P.T. Thurairajah in November 2009 to renovate the official residence of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the UN.
We have seen an internet posting alleging that Mr. Thurairajah is an LTTE member and he was among those arrested by the Swiss Police during a crackdown on money laundering by the LTTE.
I would appreciate very much if you could assist me to find this information before my departure to Sri Lanka after completion of my tour of duty in Geneva, by Saturday 14th April 2012.”
Mr. Huguenin, on 27th April 2012, responded to Mr. Jauhar as follows:
“Following your request, I can inform you that there is no indication that the individual mentioned in your message would have been arrested by the Swiss Police, or that he would be linked to the organization mentioned in your email.”
It would seem, then, that three years after the contract was performed, the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service had no information that the owner of the company was arrested or even that he had any link to the LTTE.
As for the alleged role of Mrs. Senewiratne in this matter, the sequence of events, ascertained from documents in the possession of this Ministry, is conclusive. The Procurement Committee approved the award of the contract on 5th November 2009. Mrs. Senewiratne, however, arrived in Geneva and assumed duties only on 15th November. All matters pertaining to the contract had been finalized prior to her arrival in Geneva, and it is absolutely clear that she had no involvement in the matter at all.
It is a matter for deep regret that the gravest of allegations should have been hurled against a senior public official with such blatant irresponsibility and with so little regard for the truth.
Prof. G.L. Peiris, M.P.
Ministry of External Affairs
21st October 2014
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