Non-declaration of assets: Johnston Fernando acquitted from all charges
Posted in Local News
Former Minister Johnston Fernando was acquitted from all charges with regard to a case filed against him over non-declaration of his assets and liabilities for the year 2010 by Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne.
The Bribery Commission had filed five cases in total against former Minister Johnston Fernando for violating the Bribery Act by allegedly failing to prove his annual assets and liabilities while serving as a minister from 2010 to 2014.
Accordingly, Fernando was acquitted of the relevant charges and released.
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OMG, Justice? Where art thou?
Note the following comment from a news item in a leading national newspaper:
‘The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption alleged that the former minister had failed to declare his assets and liabilities for five years since 2010.
On a previous occasion giving evidence before the Court, the Senior Assistant President’s Secretary, stated that the documents were not available at the Presidential Secretariat to prove the declaration of any assets and liabilities by the former Minister, according to his knowledge.’
So, this means the Bribery Commissioner went to the President Secretariat looking for the declaration and couldn’t find it. Does that mean the accused did not submit the declaration? Is there a register of Declarations received? Who is the custodian of the register? Or is the Secretariat being run like a Muslim Buth Kade where no records are kept to evade tax?
The Bribery Commissioner should take the Secretariat to courts for failing to maintain records of all documents in accordance with the Public Service regulations.