By Hansi Nanayakkara
Colombo Additional Magistrate Harshana Kekunawela yesterday (18) dismissed a request to impose foreign travel bans on former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and former Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle.
He also further extended the overseas travel ban, slapped on former CBSL Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, till 2 May.
He then re-issued notice to Cabraal, to appear before him on the said date. The Magistrate then fixed 2 May for further proceedings, when the order issued pertaining to the list of names submitted to Court with regard to payments made by the Government of Sri Lanka to parties by 18 January, 2022, linked to USD 500 million in sovereign bonds, will be perused.
The Court made this order pursuant to a request made by Former Governor of the Southern and Central Provinces and civil society activist Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, via a private plaint filed in terms of Section 136 (1) (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act.
The petitioner stated that the CBSL had incurred losses between Rs. 10.4 billion up to Rs. 10.6 billion from 2005 to 2015 to the Government of Sri Lanka, whilst Cabraal was at the helm of the CBSL.
Tennakoon has alleged that the former CBSL Governor had committed a punishable offence under Section 388 of the Penal Code for criminal breach of trust.
He has further charged that the former CBSL Governor is also liable for committing offences under Registered Stock and Securities Ordinance.
When the case was taken up President’s Counsel Maithri Guneratne, appearing for the prosecution, filing an additional affidavit, urged the Court to name the former Finance Minister and the Former Treasury Secretary, as witnesses in the case and then issue an order for their passports to be impounded.
The petitioner had stated that USD 500 million of sovereign bonds paid for by the Government of Sri Lanka by 18 January this year, had been suspicious and shrouded in mystery and hence he had stated that it has to be probed as to whom, the payment had been made.
Counsel Guneratne stated that under such circumstances,
Basil Rajapaksa, who had functioned as the Finance Minister and S.R. Attygalle, who had served as the Treasury Secretary at the time, should be considered as important witnesses to the case and that if it needs be, they could also be named as suspects in the trial.
He then told the Court that former CBSL Governor Arjuna Mahendran, who is a dual citizen, had fled the country and that currently there was no legal recourse to bring him back to the country.
Counsel Gunaratne informed that however, there was legal recourse to prevent a suspect from fleeing the country and as such he was making a request to this effect.
Taking the submissions into perusal Additional Magistrate ordered further hearing of the trial to take place on 2 May.