Financial Times

SC orders to seize Sicille's bank account

The implementation of the first phase of the eagerly-awaited, long-drawn comprehensive Golden Key (GK) repayment plan is to be started forthwith on a Supreme Court directive, the court decided on Tuesday.

The 3-judge bench headed by Justice Shirani Thilakawardane directed the Attorney General and the Central Bank to seize immediately the personal bank accounts with deposits amounting to Rs. 259 million of Sicille Kotelawala, wife of temporarily jailed Ceylinco Chairman Lalith Kotelawala and transfer it to the dedicated account maintained at the Bank of Ceylon to grant relief to struggling GK depositors. Attorney General Mohan Peiris informed court that Mrs Kotelawala is maintaining personal accounts at HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Nations Trust Bank. Ceylinco PLC (a finance company), Citi Bank, People's Bank and Seylan Bank.

The proposed plan has already been devised by the three member accountants committee appointed by the Supreme Court to generate funds to repay depositors by taking over Rs.110 million in the personal bank accounts of Kotelawala, Rs 259 million from his wife and Rs 240 million from Ceylinco Consolidated accounts. The balance will be raised through the selling of GK company assets and those of connected subsidiaries. Mrs Kotelawala is 'missing' and believed to be abroad and an International Police (INTERPOL) alert has been issued for her arrest.

However as a Ceylinco Director, her bank accounts and assets are liable to be seized on a court order and sold to repay depositors. She is suspected to be hiding either in Singapore, UK, Australia or Cyprus - the four countries which have come under focus, but a senior AG's Department official said that INTERPOL has so far failed to gain any breakthrough in its attempt to track her down.

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