Treasury Bonds Scam...Aluthgamage claims HE HAS IRREFUTABLE PROOF OF rAVI’S INVOLVEMENT
BY PANCHAMEE HEWAVISSENTI
Following the disclosure to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Bond Scam by the owner of an apartment at The Monarch Residencies Anika Wijesuriya (Director at East West Properties PLC) that Ravi Karunanayake's luxury apartment was paid for by Arjun Aloysius, MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage in Parliament on 25 July demanded that Ravi Karunanayake step down from the portfolio of Minister of Foreign Affairs.
MP Aluthgamage reprimanded the government in Parliament for branding him as a 'prevaricator' when he revealed last year that Arjun Aloysius was the financier of the penthouse apartment that belonged to the then Minister of Finance. "I revealed this truth during the No-confidence debate against the then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake. Minister Karunanayake directed minatory remarks at me and assured taking legal action against my revelation. Moreover, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe conveyed to the Speaker that I mislead the House and should be produced before the House Privileges "Committee" remarked MP Aluthgamage.
He further added that Arjun Aloysius has coerced Anika Wijesuriya of Monarch Residencies to destroy the agreement concerning the alleged involvement of Arjun Aloysius in the purchase of luxury apartment for then Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake.
Below are the excerpts of the interview the Ceylon Today had with MP Aluthgamage.
? You have stated in Parliament that Ravi Karunanayake should be stripped of the portfolio of Minister of Foreign Affairs as he is alleged to have been involved in the infamous "Treasury Bonds Scam". You also stated that Arjun Aloysius has even paid the rent and bought a luxury apartment house for Minister Ravi Karunanayake. What of that?
A: I possess evidence to prove that the former Minister of Finance was involved in the infamous Treasury Bond Scam. He has maintained personal links with the primary dealer of Treasury Bonds Arjun Aloysius at the time the treasury bonds were being traded which is highly unacceptable.
We also found out with proof that Arjun Aloysius has rented out a luxury apartment in Colpetty from the Monarch Residencies for Ravi Karunanayake at a cost of Rs 7.3 million for six months with a reimbursable deposit of Rs 2.9 million.
Subsequently Arjun Aloysius has purchased that same penthouse for Ravi Karunanayake at a further cost of Rs 165 million and gifted it to Ravi Karunanayake. The transactions have taken place through the bank accounts of Arjun Aloysius' company and the Monarch Residencies.
? You mean to say that Arjun Aloysius has bribed the then Minister of Finance for the undue support he extended to his Perpetual Treasuries Company?
A: It has been proved that Minister Karunanayake's luxury apartment's rent was paid by the company belonging to Arjun Aloysius. That house was later purchased by the company belonging to Minister Karunanayake's wife and daughter but Arjun Aloysius' company has paid the Monarch Residencies. Karunanayake should prove how the payment was made to the Monarch Residencies through his bank accounts if he claims clean hands. But, it is evident that Arjun Aloysius' company had been involved in the transfer of money to the Monarch Residencies' bank account.
This issue is currently being investigated and we can expect the developments in the days to come.
? Is the Joint Opposition planning to bring a No Faith Motion against Minister Ravi Karunanayake with regard to this scandal?
A: We are holding talks with regard to that at present. The JO is of the firm opinion that a No Faith Motion should be brought against Minister Karunanayake as he is involved in a major scam.
Many splits are evident within the government. It was MPs of UNP who congratulated me for my speech against Minister Karunanayake at the Parliament. So, it is conspicuous that the UNP MPs will vote against Minister Karunanayake at the No Faith Motion.
Even the members of SLFP who hold portfolios as ministers have to abide by ethics and vote against Minister Karunanayake. Hence, this is a fine opportunity for us to bring forward a No Faith Motion against him.
? Do you think the government will take any action to remove Ravi Karunanayake from the portfolio of Minister?
A: It is highly unlikely. The government wanted to get rid of 'bad eggs' in the Cabinet and stripped Ravi Karunanayake of the portfolio of Minister of Finance and made the Minister of Foreign Affairs with the National Lotteries Board and Sri Lankan Airlines added to it. Knowing that Ravi Karunanayake is a 'bad egg', the government should have given a lesson to him when his portfolio was changed. To the disappointment of the public, the government rewarded him by affiliating two more institutions under his purview, which are not relevant to his present portfolio.
The government caters to his demands and we cannot expect that government will throw the book at him and oust him.
? Breaching the existing norm, former Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake maintained personal links with a Primary Dealer of Treasury Bonds Perpetual Treasuries. What's your view on this?
A: We have gathered a lot of information with regard to the alleged involvement of then Minister of Finance in the Treasury Bond Scam. We have requested the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to call us to testify as witness with regard to the Treasury Bonds Scam. Hence, we cannot give out that information at this point in time.
? Is it only the former Minister of Finance who is implicated in the Treasury Bonds Scam?
A: No. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe too is alleged to have been involved in the Treasury Bonds Scam. PM is held responsible for appointing Arjun Mahendran to the post of Governor of the Central Bank. When the Cabinet was opposed to the appointment of Arjun Mahendran, the PM stood firm in his decision of appointing Mahendran as the Governor of CBSL.
The PM personally took responsibility over Mahendran who was not even a citizen of Sri Lanka. PM was audacious enough to retain him by appointing him as the Advisor for another year after he was accused of complicity in the Treasury Bonds Scam.
Along with Ravi Karunanayake, PM Wickremesinghe should also appear in the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Bond Scam.
? What do you think is the reason for Minister Karunanayake to dodge the Commission?
A: Minister Karunanayake is making attempts to coerce those who testify as witnesses at the Presidential Commission. That is why he is taking longer time to appear before the Commission.
Although, the Minister is planning a conspiracy, I don't think he can achieve it. We should extend our heartfelt thanks to those who appear before the Commission to furnish with all relevant evidence against the culprits. The officials at the CBSL, Auditor General, and Anika Wijesuriya, Director at East West Properties PLC were brave enough to appear before the Commission and reveal the truth against a Cabinet Minister and bigwigs who are backed by the government. The nation should be grateful to them.
? Are the witnesses of Bond Scam being coerced by the alleged scammers?
A: The witnesses have testified that Arjun Aloysius has coerced them to withhold the truth without revealing it at the Presidential Commission. Anika Wijesuriya testified at the Commission that Arjun Aloysius pressurized her to tear up the agreement that was signed at the time of purchasing of the house for Minister Karunanayake.
Tearing up of agreements would not serve any purpose as Anika Wijesuriya's bank account provides evidence of monetary transfers that took place between bank accounts of the companies belonging to Arjun Aloysius and her.
? Do you think the reason for dissolving Anti-Corruption Secretariat is to safeguard the Ministers in the government who engage in corruption?
A: I would like to provide an elaborate answer to your question.
The public never wanted to defeat former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and bring this government to power. President Rajapaksa was remembered by the public as a leader who eradicated terrorism and the one who led the country in its development drive. No leader in our history has served a nation in that manner. The main reason for the former President to lose the Presidential election was the mythical corruption allegations levelled by his opponents. People anticipated a change but were highly bamboozled by appointing this government.
The government campaigned in a large scale that they would put an end to corruption and the corrupt will be punished. Two years have lapsed since the appointment of the government and no corruption of the previous government could be proved.
On the contrary we, the JO was able to bring to light the corruption that were committed by ten ministers in the country within as short a period as two years. We named that campaign Yahapalana Top Ten Kamba Horu. Through this campaign we revealed of the mega scale corruption committed by top ten purloiners of the government. We made the public aware of the loss that these ten ministers caused the country. The PM and his thieves have played out as huge a sum as Rs 131 billion.
These are not merely allegations; they could be proven to be true. Hence, the government is compelled to take actions against themselves. That is why the government dissolved the Anti-corruption Secretariat.
? The government was indifferent in taking actions to probe into the 'Bonds Scam'. The same intensity with which they probed the corruption of the previous government was not seen in the investigation into the Bonds Scam. What could be the reason?
A: The PM, the Minister of Finance and several influential ministers in the government are involved in the Bond Scam. Probing into the scam will result in revealing their involvement in the scam. Should any of this transpire, the government would be left in an utterly disgraceful light.
? This government alleged that the former government was corrupt and reprimanded it for inducing an irrecoverable damage to the economy of the country. The government made pledges that it will restore the damaged economy. Albeit, quite the opposite is taking place, this government too has proven to be corrupt. Any comment?
A: The PM and the Ministers in the government have embezzled a sum of Rs 131 billion during the year of 2015 alone. If you see the corruption during 2016 and 2017 the embezzled amounts are higher and we have not yet lodged complaints against them.
During the two-year period, the government has obtained Rs 2,400 billion foreign loans and only settled Rs 400 billion worth of loan. So, we have a question as to what happened to the rest of Rs 2000 billion.
The government burdens the public with taxes. They have even gone a step forward to levy taxes on the till boxes in temples.
Innocent farmers are levied taxes. The local entrepreneurs are taxed. Stipends are cut off. This government has not introduced any development activity in the country. On the whole, I can say the country is at a standstill.
? Once the report of the Bond Scam is sent to the President, he will consult the Attorney General's Department. Do you think a State body will take action against a government minister if Ravi Karunanayake is found guilty?
A: This government boasts of good governance. In accordance with the ethics of good governance, the government should confront the corrupt ministers.
However, the present government has lost its confidence amongst the public. In order to retrieve the lost fame, the government has to punish the corrupt ministers who are involved in Bond Scam. If the government fails to take actions it cannot be in power any longer.
? The President seems to have turned down three Cabinet Papers tabled by Minister Ravi Karunanayake includingthe one for obtaining 'Visumpaya' as his official residence. Does this indicate an attempt to sideline Karunanayake by the government?
A: Although the people vested power to Maithripala Sirisena to rule the country, PM Wickremesinghe has snatched that power by force from the President. We should acclaim the attempt of the President to remove corrupt ministers in the government. The President appointed a Presidential Commission to probe into the Bond Scam and also removed Karunanayake from the portfolio of Minister of Finance. Nevertheless, the PM obstructs the President's endeavours.
? Why does Ravi Karunanayake demand Visumpaya to be released as his official residence via a Cabinet Paper when he is alleged to possess the penthouse at Monarch Residencies and many other?
A: Apart from the luxury apartment that Arjun Aloysius bought for him and his present residence, Karunanayake possesses many houses and apartments. I can reveal how many luxury apartments he does possess in prime areas of Colombo.
He wanted to make public fool by portraying that he does not have a house and that's why he requests Visumpaya to be his residence.
? Corruption allegations are levelled at you also for embezzling public money. What do you say about that?
A: They have filed a case against me for the allegation of a trade union giving Rs 1 million to me. They also alleged that I set up an office within one of the CGR premises. In order to curb our voice, the government files cases which lack authenticity.
PIX: AKILA JAYAWARDANA
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