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A remandee should be in remand prison, not in hospital – Chief Justice
CID still awaiting dossier from INTERPOL on Sicille Kotelawala

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is still awaiting the dossier from the International Police (INTERPOL) on Mrs. Sicille Kotelawala against whom a judicial arrest warrant has been issued in Sri Lanka, a top police official said.

"We have already informed INTERPOL and a response is expected in due course", Director, CID, SSP M. G. W. M. Muthubanda said.

Sicille Kotelawala, wife of Ceylinco Consolidated Chairman Lalith Kotelawala, has been ordered to be arrested in connection with the 26 billion rupee Golden Key scam.

She is believed to be under treatment in a hospital in Singapore, but the veracity of the medical certificate presented to the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate’s court, where the criminal case is pending, has been repeatedly questioned by state prosecutors.

Dismissing the medical certificate as an "attempt to mislead court", Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Sarath Jayamanne earlier told Chief Magistrate Harsha Setunge that the assistance of INTERPOL has been sought as there is an open warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Kotelawala.

"INTERPOL has still not got back to us on her whereabouts", DSG Jayamanne told The Sunday Island. "They are on the lookout for her".

Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva also directed the Attorney General to bring Mrs. Kotelawala before the law when the Fundamental Rights (FR) plea filed by 23 Golden Key depositors came up for hearing in the Supreme Court last week.

Counsel for the depositors M. A. Bastiansz said that Mrs. Kotelawala, a respondent in the pending criminal action, had fled the country.

"INTERPOL is following up the matter", Attorney General (AG) Mohan Peiris told court.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justices Shiranee Tilakawardane and K. Sripavan also ordered the directors and shareholders of Golden Key to produce by way of affidavits a declaration of their assets.

If a full disclosure was not made, under the purview of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank, it would be treated as contempt of court and dealt with accordingly.

Steps are being taken to secure the monies of Golden Key depositors, the AG said.

Under the supervision of the Monetary Board, Golden Key is exploring the possibility of selling its assets and settling depositors through a fund, he said. He submitted to court a document in this regard sent to him by Lalith Kotelawala on March 19, 2009 with an assurance that depositors will be re-paid their monies soon.

However, the Bench headed by the Chief Justice, which examined the document, rejected it saying the contents cannot be accepted as they are not factual. The deposit base of Golden Key is 26 billion rupees but the assets, as given in the document, is Rs. 372 million.

As this clearly shows that Golden Key depositors’ funds had been siphoned off to other companies, the Chief Justice said there is provision in the law for the Monetary Board to conduct a full probe and get to the bottom of this scam.

Court expressed dismay at the way the Monetary board is acting by looking the other way while Golden Key depositors are being swindled.

Appearing on behalf of Lalith Kotelwala, who is still on remand, Counsel Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa said that modalities to settle depositors can be worked out through discussions with the relevant parties.

He said his client (Kotelawala) wanted him to inform court that he is prepared to sell a hospital belonging to Golden Key and three other properties to repay depositors.

The Chief Justice said that a person remanded by court should be in the remand prison and not in a hospital.

He said that any relief granted by court should benefit all depositors equally – from those who had invested a billion rupees to those who has deposited one thousand rupees.

The Supreme Court has now intervened to find a reasonable solution to this crisis faced by Golden Key depositors, he noted.

The case will resume on April 27, 2009.

Meanwhile, three depositors have died since the company collapsed in December last year, Ms. Dushyanthi Hapugoda, treasurer of the Golden Key Depositors’ Association asserted.

"Without an income to survive, they had gone through agony before their deaths", she said. "There are many disabled soldiers also amongst the depositors".

She said that an ordinary man from Polonnaruwa who had risked his life working as a driver in Iraq had invested 3.5 million rupees at Golden Key. On his return, he was caring for his aged parents with the interest earned.

"It is wrong to assume that only people with big bucks invested in this Ceylinco subsidiary", Ms. Hapugoda pointed out. "How many hundreds of depositors have been reduced to paupers today".

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