By Bandula Sirimanna and Natasha Gunaratne
A state-appointed probe into the Dr P.B Jayasundara affair is continuing and its determination will be conveyed to the government next week, reliable sources said.
They said a previous meeting to discuss the committee’s findings was put back due to the Supreme Court hearing last Monday. The Sunday Times FT reliably learns that the probe will make strong representations that the former Treasury Secretary should not hold any form of public office.
The Supreme Court, hearing the Lanka Marine Services Ltd (LMSL) case this week ordered former Treasury Secretary Dr.P.B. Jayasundera to appear in court on October 8, and said the CID director should be removed from office for failing to perform his duties.
The 3-member bench headed by Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva chastised the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption and the Attorney General for failure to act pursuant on the court’s judgment in the LMSL privatisation. The respondents who appeared in court were Chairman of the Bribery Commission Justice Ameer Ismail, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jayantha Wickremeratne and Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Channa De Silva.
The Deputy Solicitor General Y.J.W. Wijetilake who was representing the CID Director, the Bribery Commissioner and the Attorney General was left speechless after Justice Silva asked why none of the respondents mentioned in the judgment as having committed acts of corruption have not been questioned over two months after the judgment had been handed down.Mr. Wijetilake informed the Court that the Attorney General had instructed the CID to commence an investigation and that the Bribery Commission had initiated an inquiry back when the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) had initially submitted its report to Parliament in 2007. Mr. Wijetilake said that inquiry was at the tail end. However, Justice Silva said the CID Director should be removed from his job due to inaction and stated that public authorities with public funds must perform their public duties instead of waiting for complaints.
Justice Silva added that the judgment has clearly laid out an allegation of corruption and that someone has benefited yet those parties have not been questioned. He stated that there is no use in questioning the petitioner Vasudeva Nanayakkara and that by taking no action, they are in fact encouraging corruption and showing scant regard for the court judgment.
The Court further issued notice on Dr. Jayasundera to appear before court and explain his duties as newly appointed advisor to the president in order to ascertain if he is still holding public office. Previously, the Court had also clearly stated that Dr. Jayasundera continued to hold public office despite the adverse findings made by the Court on his conduct and notwithstanding the fact that the Court has found that he violated the provisions of the Constitution and thereby breached the oath taken in terms of Article 53 of the Constitution. The Court had also stated that he is disqualified from holding public office.
Dr Jayasundera was expected to assume office as Advisor to the President on finance matters this week but didn’t turn up at the Finance Ministry where an office was initially bring prepared but refurbishment work was stopped, a Ministry source said, adding that this may be due to court comment relating to holding public office.
Meanwhile a note submitted by the 22nd respondent in the case, Nihal Sri Ameresekere was made a part of the Court's order. Mr. Ameresekere stated that both 'elected' and 'selected' public officers and those of the private sector would be liable for punishment in terms of the Offences Against Public Property Act No. 12 of 1982 and the applicable section of the Penal Code for any proven commission of any offences. He further submitted that the perpetration of fraud on the State and the public and/or the misappropriation of public property and/or collusion therewith, or any attempt to have done so, warrant deterrent punishment and any attempt to have covered up the same would be a far graver crime, also warranting deterrent punishment.
Mr. Ameresekere submitted that Section 213 of the Companies Act stipulates the disqualification of Directors, inter-alia, prohibiting a person to be a Director, if he has been convicted of an offence involving dishonest or fraudulent acts, the contravention of which is an offence liable to a fine not exceeding one million rupees or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, or both such fine and imprisonment.
He added that on the basis of the grave, serious and adverse findings and the severe castigations in that behalf made in the judgment of the Court, the 'apex' Court of the country, the cogent question arises as to whether the 8th respondent Dr. Jayasundera could continue to be the Chairman of SriLankan Airlines (a majority state owned company) and the 20th respondent, Susantha Ratnayake, could continue to be the Chairman of John Keells (a listed public company) and other of any other companies.