Preliminary investigations have begun on the complaints of corruption filed against a number of key players of the previous government, but the Commission is yet to make a decision on whether or not to impound the passports of the individuals named in the complaints, a senior official with the Commission said. Bribery Commission Director General [...]


Corruption charges: Initial investigations begin on complaints against VVIPs


Preliminary investigations have begun on the complaints of corruption filed against a number of key players of the previous government, but the Commission is yet to make a decision on whether or not to impound the passports of the individuals named in the complaints, a senior official with the Commission said.

Bribery Commission Director General Ganesh R. Dharmawardena told the Sunday Times that the commission has already called for a legal report on the complaint filed against former Central Bank of Governor Ajith Cabraal.

Three separate complaints were filed at the Bribery and Corruption Commission this week, by JVP members against some of the VVIPs’ of the previous government. Pic by Athula Devapriya

Three separate complaints were filed in the Bribery and Corruption Commission this week, by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) members against some of the VVIPs’ of the previous government including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaska, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa, Ajith Cabraal and Sajin Vass Gunawardana.

The complainant, Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath –in the complaint filed – has alleged that the former Central Bank Governor has acted contrary to accepted procedure investing in Greek Government Bonds, when the Greek economy was facing a crisis. The complaint also states that the bonds with a face value of EUR 30,000,000 were bought paying EUR 22,163,500 (Rs. 3,472,576,045) in the secondary market through intermediaries. However the complainant claims that the bonds ‘were purchased through intermediaries paying a high price when the actual value was far below the price that was paid for the purchase’.

Citing the Auditor General’s reports and documents tabled in Parliament the complainant, Mr. Herath also claimed that the country has incurred severe losses amounting to Rs. 2.14 billion in the resale of the bonds and in the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL’s) decision to accept the Greece Debt Swap Programme. Raising questions on these decisions going against the accepted procedures set by the CBSL, Mr. Herath has called for an investigation on the actions of Mr. Cabraal.

Following the receipt of this complaint a legal report is being prepared to proceed with the investigations. According to Mr. Dharmawardana there is sufficient evidence provided in the complaint to proceed with an investigation against former CBSL Governor Ajith Cabraal.
Meanwhile preliminary investigation on another complaint filed this week has commenced to determine which of the 12 respondents named in the complaint should be investigated.

“The complainant has named 12 individuals as accused but has not stated the specific corruption allegations against each of them. We will have to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the corruption complaint filed to determine who – out of the 12 individuals named – we should investigate fully, as there are no direct allegations against the people named,” Mr. Dharmawardana said.

The complaint which was also filed by Mr. Herath nominated 12 respondents. Naming the former chairman of the Lotteries Board, he accuses the chairman and his family of being involved in fraudulent dealings relating to sweep ticket printing contracts. According to the complaint, the company Grand Expert Sri Lanka formed by 15 members of the chairman’s family had been awarded contracts outside of tender procedures and has embezzled money from the Board.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Managing Director is alleged to have used Bureau funds to promote election candidates, while Mr. Cabraal and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa have been accused of fraudulent conduct in the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation hedging deal. The Carlton Sports Club is also alleged to have received tax relief causing losses of millions of rupees to the Treasury. The complaint alleged though the cost of implementing water supply projects for eight towns in the south was estimated at about Rs.15,740 million, Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa along with Bawan Group Limited had fraudulently inflated the cost to around Rs. 36,400 million. The complaint also outlines a number of other fraudulent and unlawful activities including forcible eviction without compensation, of people from lands, election related offences and tax evasions.

Mr. Dharmawardana said a preliminary inquiry on such a complaint may take three to five month to complete, depending on the nature of the complaint.

Some of the complaints the Commission has received need more details before the Commission can proceed to take any action, he claimed.
“The complaint made by a Parliamentarian, only states the 38 individuals named are corrupt and the Commission should investigate them. However he does not make specific accusations against the individuals,” he claimed.

“We cannot take action on such complaints. We will have to get a detailed statement from the complainant and then proceed with the preliminary inquiry before taking any action against the respondents named.”

The decision on whether or not to impound the passports of the accused is still under discussion Mr. Dharmawardana claimed. According to him even if the passports are impounded the move is only valid for three months, which may not serve the purpose.The Commission is also looking at making fifteen new recruitments to its office, to meet the present human resource shortage. Applications had been called before the election and the recruitment process will begin soon. Although the new recruits would not be attached to investigations concerning the complaints against former government members, the recruitments will enable the Commission to allocate more officers for the high profile inquiries, Mr. Dharmawardana said.

The complaint filed against Parliamentarian Sajin Vaas Gunawardana, alleging that he used his position and power to unlawfully amass wealth paving the way to set up his company, Cosmos Aviation Services. The complainant, Wasantha Samarasinghe also alleges that Mr. Gunawardana bought helicopters and aircraft for his company from the wealth he acquired through fraudulent means using his power and position in the government. Mr. Samarasinghe states that Mr. Gunawardana did not possess such wealth before he was elected to office, alleging that it was acquired thereafter. However this complaint has still not been processed by the Commission.

Mervyn goes to CID against Rajapaksa siblings

Former Minister Mervyn Silva yesterday lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigations Department accusing former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ex-Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and former Minister Basil Rajapaksa of alleged involvement in illegal activities, and wanted the CID to investigate them.

“I will take full responsibility for the statements I make here. Others fear to come out and say these,” Mr Silva told the media later.

Defeated candidate files corruption case against Weerawansa

A complaint of corruption filed against former Minister Wimal Weerawansa, by the defeated Presidential election contestant, Namal Ajith Rajapakshe of Our National Front has been lodged with the Bribery Commission.

The complaint alleges that the former minister had acquired ‘unbelievable quantities of wealth’ thereafter.

According to Mr. Rajapakshe, Mr. Weerawansa when he was in the JVP credited his Parliamentary allowances to the party fund – as was the common practice among JVP MPs — and his family managed with monetary assistance given by relatives.

Mr. Rajapakshe alleges that Mr. Weerawansa owns two houses, one valued at over Rs. 70 million while the other is still under construction. He also alleges that Mr. Weerawansa’s wife Shashi Weerawansa, now owns shares in Richlook Garments and has an illegal lending business.
Meanwhile six days ago another 1,200 files with documents of alleged corruption deals have been given to the anti-corruption front set up by the Jathika Hela Urumaya. Its unit coordinator Nishantha Warnasinghe said more complaints are coming from the public.

“Most of the calls and fax messages we receive are connected to campaign material and election favours that were to be distributed. We still call upon the people to report such matters, but do it in accordance with the law of the country,” he said.


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