Financial Times

LMSL respondent talks of attempts to implicate him in deal

Mr. Ameresekere stated that:

  • It is to the 20th Respondent, Susantha Ratnayake, as then Director, John Keells (18th Respondent), that the 8th Respondent, P.B. Jayasundera, then Chairman PERC, had addressed Letter dated 12.7.2002 awarding the sale of 90% Shareholding of LMSL (19th Respondent) to John Keells (18th Respondent).
  • = It is the (20th Respondent) Susantha Ratnayake, as then Director, John Keells (18th Respondent), who had promptly addressed a reply also dated 12.7.2002 to the 8th Respondent, then Chairman PERC, accepting the award and agreeing to conclude the transaction.
  • = It is the 20th Respondent, Susantha Ratnayake, as then Director, John Keells (18th Respondent), who had addressed Letter dated 31.7.2002 to PERC, requesting for several concessions, (including the impugned 'monopoly' struck down by the Court of Appeal consequent to which, the 8th Respondent is noted on the said Letter to have met John Keells (18th Respondent) on 2.8.2002.
  • It is the 20th Respondent, Susantha Ratnayake, as then Director, John Keells (18th Respondent), who had addressed Letter of same date 2.8.2002 to P.B. Jayasundera (8th Respondent), then Chairman PERC, confirming the said Meeting had on the said date, and thanking P.B. Jayasundera (8th Respondent), then Chairman PERC, for agreeing to the issues in the said Letter dated 31.7.2002. (NG)

The former Chairman of PERC, Mr. Nihal Sri Ameresekere, has submitted in writing to the Supreme Court, the facts contained of his own personal knowledge and belief from documents pertaining to the Lanka Marine Services Limited (LMSL) privatization including attempts by Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera to implicate him during COPE sub-committee hearings. Mr. Ameresekere states he was 'totally unaware of the steps that had been taken to purport to transfer the Bloemendhal Land to LMSL during its privatization.'

As 22nd respondent in the case, Mr. Ameresekere stated that 'it is without such knowledge of the surreptitious actions taken as stated in the Petition, pertaining to the purported transfer of the said Land, that I addressed Letter dated 1.7.2005 to the then Chairman (21st Respondent) of John Keells Holdings Ltd.(18th Respondent), inter-alia, stating below:

"As regards the purchase consideration of Rs. 1,200,000/-, you have referred to: this as per the records available had been based on a valuation, which had been done by DFCC on a basis of a 'discounted cash flow'. On a question raised by the Chairman CPC, as to whether this valuation had included the Market Value of the Land at Bloemendhal 8A 2R 21.44P that had been agreed to be transferred to Lanka Marine Services (Pvt) Ltd., it has been disclosed that the Market Value of such an extent of land had not been taken into reckoning."

Mr. Ameresekere stated that he addressed the COPE Sub-Committee to clarify the matter having made the following statement:

"Also when questioned, I stated that I was totally unaware of the 'transfer' of this Land. I did not elaborate on this matter at the Meeting in view of the presence of others. Dr. P.B. Jayasundera telephoned me one day and wanted this Land transfer effected immediately – 'Hetama karala dhanna'. I refused to do so without examining the matter. Subsequently, unknown to me, the Land had got 'transferred' at the instance of the then Secretary, Ministry of Power & Energy, Mr. P. Weerahandi. I enclose Letter dated 3.11.2004 from John Keells Holdings Ltd. addressed to the Ministry of Power & Energy and Mr. P. Weerahandi's Letter of the very same date to Mrs. C. Athurugiriya, Addl. Secretary to the President, after a telephone conversation he had had."

Mr. Ameresekere submitted that 'the above referred to telephone call to me by the Secretary to the Treasury, P.B. Jayasundera (8th respondent) requiring me to have the said Land transferred immediately, was made no sooner I was appointed Chairman PERC on 29.5.2004. I was made to understand that it was Secretary to the Treasury, P.B. Jayasundera, who attempted to implicate me in this matter, when he was being examined by COPE, whereas I had resisted and desisted from taking steps to transfer this Land and on 5.10.2004 had directed a then Director PERC to pursue on the matter of valuation of the said Land, which he did by letter dated 5.10.2004 addressed to DFCC Bank (14th respondent).'

He stated that he intimated to COPE that he did not concur with the basis of the valuation that had been done by DFCC Bank who had been selected without due process. He then wrote to then Chairman of John Keells Limited (18th Respondent) Mr. V. Lintotawela requesting the Annual Audited Accounts of LMSL for the post-divestiture period.

Mr. Ameresekere then stated that the then Deputy Chairman of JKH and present Chairman Mr. Susantha Ratnayake (20th respondent) urged Mr. Mano Tittawela, the then Senior Advisor to the President and Chairman SEMA, to prevent PERC from persisting to call for the accounting to LMSL at a meeting had with Mr. Ameresekere.

Mr. Ameresekere submitted that whilst this application is pending before court, there appears to be a concerted attempt in the media, to project JKH and its Chairman, Susantha Ratnayake, who, as disclosed, have been impleaded in this transaction put in issue by the Petitioner, ironically to be projected in the public domain, as Sri Lanka's 'most respected entity', inter-alia, in 'honesty', 'corporate social responsibility' and 'national-mindedness'.

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