Financial Times

Bribery Commission summons PBJ over LMSL deal

By Natasha Gunaratne

Former Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, who was criticized by the Supreme Court for a corrupt deal in the privatization of Lanka Marine Services Limited (LMSL), was summoned before the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption on Wednesday where his statement was recorded.

The Court had earlier called on several state agencies including the Bribery Commission to launch investigations and act on the Court's findings. Commission sources told The Sunday Times FT that the investigation which commenced some time ago is now in its last stages.

According to the fundamental rights petition filed by Mr. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, the most likely respondents being summoned for questioning by not only the Bribery Commission but other agencies such as the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) are former Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Chairman of John Keells Holdings (JKH) Susantha Ratnayake, former JKH Chairman V. Lintotawela, former Minister of Finance K.N. Choksy and Former Secretary to the Treasury Charitha Ratwatte.

A senior CID officer said a special team has been deployed to investigate those who were found guilty of theft and robbery of public property, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation in the LMSL case. He said they are following the directive issued by the Court. He added that the Attorney General had instructed the CID to commence an investigation on those who were found guilty in the LMSL case and they are enforcing his directions.

It was only a few weeks ago that the Chief Justice Sarath N Silva chastised several state agencies including the Bribery Commission for failure to launch investigations following the judgment which required them to take action. Bribery Commission source said they are in the process of summoning other individuals who were also named as respondents in the fundamental rights petition. Sources added that the Bribery Commission has given priority to this investigation and will be completing it as early as possible.

Meanwhile Dr. Jayasundera must, by tomorrow (October 20) file an affidavit in Court to prove he does not hold any public office nor has any involvement in companies in which the Sri Lankan government has a direct or indirect interest in, following the LMSL judgment.

According to the judgment, the Supreme Court held that the entire process of the sale of shares of LMSL to JKH has been done without lawful authority and that Dr. Jayasundera being the 8th respondent and the then Chairman of the Public Enterprises Reform Commission (PERC), from the very commencement of the process, acted outside the authority of the applicable law.

The judgment further stated that Dr. Jayasundera has not only acted contrary to law but purported to arrogate to himself the authority of the Executive Government. His action is not only illegal and in excess of lawful authority but also biased in favour of JKH. The judgment went on to state that the allegation of the petitioner that Dr. Jayasundera worked in collusion with JKH Chairman Mr. Ratnayake to secure illegal advantages, adverse to the public interest is established.

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