Financial Times

PBJ not fit to hold public office-respondent says

By Natasha Gunaratne

Several objections have been raised against a bid by the high profile former public official P.B. Jayasundera to resume duties as Treasury Secretary when the Supreme Court hears the case tomorrow.

In written submissions filed in Court, former PERC Chairman Nihal Sri Ameresekere who was a respondent in the Lanka Marine Services (LMS) fundamental rights case, is also alleging a connection Dr. Jayasundera may have had to the controversial oil hedging case which, if proven, would further establish that Dr. Jayasundera is not a fit and proper person to hold public office, most of all as Treasury Secretary.

Mr. Ameresekere, who filed a fundamental rights petition on the oil hedging deals, stated in his objections that Dr. Jayasundera may have some involvement in the hedging deals after receiving telephone records which show the cell phone numbers of Dr. Jayasundera, Standard Chartered Bank CEO Clive Haswell and former Citibank CEO Dennis Hussey, as having been in conversation on several dates in March, April and May 2009. Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank are two of the five banks which entered into the controversial hedging agreements with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

Mr. Ameresekere asked the Court to verify the telephone records and if proven to be authentic, would disclose that there is collusion between Dr. Jayasundera and Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank.
Mr. Ameresekere said that statements in Dr. Jayasundera’s petition to Court about having maintained the highest level of honesty and integrity and discharging his duties ‘with utmost commitment in good faith and in the best interests of the country’ were incorrect and ‘as further from the truth and reality’. He is asking the Court to dismiss Dr. Jayasundera’s application.

In the LMS judgment delivered on 21 July 2008, the Supreme Court found that Dr. Jayasundera, in his capacity as PERC Chairman, acted unlawfully and was not fit to hold public office and fined Rs.500,000 as compensation to the state. Mr. Ameresekere states that Dr. Jayasundera, having expressed regret and tendered an unreserved apology to the Court through an affidavit dated 16 October 2008, is tantamount to the acceptance of responsibility and admission of guilt on his part.

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