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Chaura Sakvithi – born to teach the gullible

If the shock from cowardly and brutal that LTTE suicide killer blast at Anuradhapura, taking a heavy toll of those killed and injured will linger with us for some time, the reverberations from the Sakvithi Financial Scandal is bound to be felt wider and deeper as the eddies and ripples of financial loss keep spreading, just like what the sub–prime mortgage crisis has done to banking in the US and Europe, and stock markets worldwide.

Sakvithi or Chakravarthi in short, means universal monarch and the architect of what appears to be the biggest of financial scams in recent times had not only shown that a sucker is born every minute, but also that he lived up to his name of a being monarch who held sway over all those suckers who came to him with the hope of getting rich in double quick time. Thanks to his own trickery and those who were ready to promote his crooked work, we are reminded again of the lurking presence of people like him, who know how to bleed a sucker dry, giving the impression that he or she is in for a great windfall in cash, and possibly kind, too.

Sakvithi’s great claim to fame was that he was born to teach. Despite this claim, if anyone had taken a second look at the "text books" he produced for those English hungry youth of today, desperate to overcome the social and economic woes they face due to their lack of knowledge of the former colonial tongue, and today’s necessary window to the world, due to the shortsighted Sinhala Only politicians and fellow travelers of circa 1956; it would have been obvious that he was a great fraudster, all out to fool those who placed their trust in him in learning.

What we can now see is that he was not born to teach, as he claimed, but in fact, to dupe people by the thousands and money by the millions. There were so many who were mesmerised by his promise of easy money. The average pensioner or retiree, trying hard to eke out a living on a meagre monthly income may even be excused for taking at face value the calculatedly misleading promises made by this Chaura Sakvithi, put across through the media in so tempting a manner. Yet, they were not the only suckers, although they made up the multitude of those played out.

Those who came running to him in preference to the regular savings accounts or fixed deposits in banks, or even the "under the pillow or mattress banks" of the most secretive about their savings, ranged from persons in the police who are usually expected to be on the look out for those who prey on the weaknesses of people to those in the armed services whose training is said to make them more careful about who or what they place their trust in.

While some fooled by this Chaura Sakvithi were those actually blind, being led to their ruin by the two-eyed, there were many others who fell prey to the fancy offerings made, precisely because they were presented by a media that was not questioning enough of what they were placing before the public by way of advertising. A case of the media abandoning a key responsibility of keeping the people properly informed, instead of opening the way for people to be misled to ensure that the income on the advertising side remained in the black.

But why, one may ask, should the media be blamed, when those considered media pundits, honoured for service to the media, and quoted by the media on important events both national and international, were at the ready to extol the virtues of the crooked company they kept. It was the worst of companies, presented to a people made gullible through endorsement by celebrity, experience or age, as the best of companies.

The trail of downright trickery that has been revealed in the wake of this scandal also raises another important question. How did so many of the people, those in the police and in public service or in the private sector with known limited incomes, who possibly never paid any taxes, have so much money to hoard with this Chakravarthi of Scam, in the hope of being even richer, with the assurance that nothing will reach the taxman?

Whether this Chaura Sakvithi will be brought to book will be one more test for the IGP and the police. But, the activities of Chaura Sakvithi & Co whether in fixed deposits that have now got unfixed, real estate deals or vehicle transactions that are more than questionable, open a much larger can of worms. It is the ugly side of a society that is ready to protest its religious roots, but on first examination is rotten to the core. It won’t need much searching to find more of such Chaura Sakvithis in our midst, promoted and protected by those we wish to believe as trustworthy.

AIG Luxury

When it comes to financial scandal and crisis today, it is not easy to forget the USA. It was only a few weeks ago that the US Treasury bailed out the American International Group Inc (AIG) the largest insurer in the US, with a package that cost the US taxpayer US$ 85 billion. Just for the record, when earlier this week the US Congress had its hearing on this massive bailout, there was the shocking revelation that just a week after the rescue the company’s leading insurance executives spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at one of the most exclusive resorts in the country.

As one Congressman described it... "AIG spent $200,000 dollars for hotel rooms. Almost $150,000 for catered banquets; $23,000 at the hotel spa and another $1,400 at the salon. They were getting manicures, facials, pedicures and massages while American people were footing the bill. And they spent another $10,000 dollars for I don’t know what this is, leisure dining. Bars?" They were celebrating the bailout in style, as only American business people can do.

It’s the US Treasury that has been taken for a sucker. It’s the Day of the Chaura Sakvithi, there too.

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