Good governance for committees and guidelines for Chairman of Committees, prepared by former Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Chairman C.P. De Silva and adopted by the Chamber in 2002, shows that the presence of John Keells Holdings (JKH) directors Deva Rodrigo and Ronnie Peiris at CCC committee meetings which discussed the JKH matter, among other issues, were clear conflicts of interest.
The guidelines, circulated last week to members and which outline principles that should constitute a Code of Behaviour for all members that run institutions of any sorts, list 11 points with two of those pertinent in dealing with conflict of interest situations. The first states that 'he/she should never let his personal interests take precedence over the needs of the institution.'
The second states that 'if ever there is a conflict of interests in connection with any proposal, he/she should inform the committee of it and not be present when the matter is discussed. It is not sufficient to merely not participate in the discussion. His/her presence at the meeting while the matter is being discussed would be a deterrent to a free and frank discussion on the matter.'
It was revealed in The Sunday Times FT a few weeks ago that Mr. Rodrigo who is a former CCC Chairman and Mr. Peiris had been present during meetings held by the CCC committee when discussing the JKH case while JKH Chairman Mr. Susantha Ratnayake who is also the Deputy Vice Chairman of the CCC had not been present at the same meeting.