ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday October 7, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 19

Two senior citizens make serious charges against CBK

Two senior citizens, retired public servants have filed a Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court saying that former President Chandrika Kumaratunga helped a close friend Ronnie Peiris, with whom she has a personal family relationship to profit from an illegal land transaction involving Government property to the value of more than Rs. 60 Million and that she misled her own cabinet in doing so.

The controversial golf course

Sugathapala Medis and Raja Senanayake in their petition have said that former President Kumaratunga has long helped Ronnie Peiris, a businessman who lives in the United Kingdom with loans from the Bank of Ceylon (UK branch) amounting to a further Rs. 40 Million.

The illegal transaction they refer to is the sale of a large extent of state land near the Parliament Complex, which was acquired by then President J.R. Jayewardene for ‘public purposes’ and later turned into an exclusively private golf club. Despite the acquisition being purportedly for a public purpose, the public purpose was resoundingly defeated in 1997 when President Kumaratunga, as Minister of Finance put up a cabinet paper to get BOI approval for an 18-hole golf course on 136 acres of state land belonging to the UDA.

The petitioners say that ex-President Kumaratunga misled her own cabinet into believing a Japanese investor together with three local investors wanted to build a private golf club in this property, but that the Japanese investor existed “only on paper”.

They say that former President Kumaratunga named the Japanese investor as an “unscrupulous ruse” to make the picture more attractive and to justify the project to her own cabinet. The three local investors had formed a company called Asia Pacific Golf Courses Ltd., but had then sold the shares of the company without building any golf course for an “undisclosed sum” believed to exceed Rs. 150 Million to another businessman.They state that locals who were long-time residents on these properties were given Rs, 312 per perch as compensation, but that a perch was later sold to buyers at Rs. 600,000 per perch.

The petitioners state that in addition to the purported golf course project, investors had also proposed the construction of a park, foot ball pitch, cricket pitch, and a hawker centre for the purpose of selling food items to the public, tainting the project with a public purpose angle which was dropped by the wayside as the project went on.

How The Sunday Times followed the story

They say that former President Kumaratunga was instrumental in releasing state land meant for a public purpose illegally for a private club overlooking the advice of the Attorney General and misled her cabinet in doing so.

The petitioners say that she had an overriding duty to be the custodian of executive power on behalf of the country’s citizens, and had breached that trust by “robbing the land from the original land owners taken allegedly for a public purpose and sugar coating the project on the basis that the project was going to benefit the public”.

They say that she allowed her friend Ronnie Peiris and others to make “unconscionable profits” and point out to a nexus between her family and the Peiris family. The petitioners say that they came to know that Ronnie Peiris had accepted tax liability for the monies he profited from this land transaction only very recently.

They have also asked court to direct the Bribery and Corruption Commission to initiate legal proceedings against former President Kumaratunga, for action against the Bank of Ceylon and for the confiscation of the monies made by Peiris and others in this entire transaction.Samararatna Associates, Attorneys-at-Law appear for the petitioners.

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