SLFP vows to recover money lost due to bond scams

Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena

The SLFP says it will push for the recovery of ill-gotten money from those involved in the Central Bank bond scams.

State Finance Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena yesterday said the recovery of losses and punitive action against those responsible for the scams would constitute the basis of the SLFP recommendations in respect of the bond scam to be submitted to President Maithripala Sirisena.

According to a leaked Central Bank report that exclusively dealt with PTL transactions with various parties including Bank of Ceylon has estimated that the enterprise recorded a mammoth after-tax profit exceeding Rs.10 billion within a period of 14 months. The Central Bank report, while referring to what it called unusually high growth rate during 2015/2016, asserted PTL net profit before tax (NPBT) accounted for a staggering 83 per cent of all primary dealers’ NPBT as at Dec. 31, 2915.

Addressing the media at the Finance Ministry, State Minister Abeywardena said that a report prepared by a special committee named by the SLFP Central Committee would be handed over to President Sirisena shortly. The SLFPer stressed that President Maithripala Sirisena would take follow up action depending on six recommendations made by the committee. The State Minister declined to reveal six specific recommendations until President Maithripala Sirisena received the report.

The Joint Opposition has repeatedly alleged that fraudulent transaction took place at Feb 27, 2015 issuance of Central Bank bonds. Having received recognition as a primary dealer on Sept 30, 2013, PTL operations were launched on Feb 5, 2014.

State Finance Minister Abeywardena declined to comment on alleged involvement of Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe in the bond scam. When the media pressed State Finance Minister for a response, Abeywardena said that there hadn’t been any reference to Premier Wickremesinghe in both JVP MP Sunil Handunetti’s COPE report as well as the Auditor General’s report on the same.

Abeywardena said the SLFP committee had examined both dossiers before preparing the report for President Maithripala Sirisena.

The State Minister refrained from responding to a question regarding how the committee missed reference to Premier Wickremesinghe in the first COPE report released in the run up to parliamentary polls in August last year. “Minister, you haven’t examined DEW Gunasekera’s report. Had you examined that report, your opinion would have been different,” one of those print media journalists covering the briefing told the minister. State Minister Abeywardena ignored that remark.

When it was pointed out that primary dealer PTL hadn’t even been suspended pending proper investigation, Abeywardena said punitive measures couldn’t be taken without following proper procedures. He said the PTL would go to court if the Central Bank suspended it.

State Minister Abeywardena advised the media to do their duty.

When it was pointed out that Premier Wickremesinghe had already submitted to COPE report to the Attorney General and was awaiting instructions from the top legal advisor, Abeywardena explained action taken by the SLFP to ensure a proper investigation as well as the responsibility of Parliament in that regard.

The State Minister denied accusations that the process had been purposely delayed. He said that once they handed over the report to President Maithripala Sirisena, the SLFP leader would act swiftly and decisively on it.

(Source: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)