Bond scam: UNP rejects COPE report as biased

‘Govt. MPs did not endorse the document’


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Alleging that Chairman of Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) D. E. W. Gunasekera, had unfairly used unsubstantiated information available to a Special Parliamentary Investigation Committee that probed alleged insider trading and favouritism in a recent mega treasury bond issue to undermine the UNP, Deputy Justice Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe insisted the report couldn’t be presented in Parliament for want of a unanimous agreement.

Colombo District MP Senasinghe, who represented the UNP in the 13-member committee, said that he had strongly objected to the tabling of the report due to serious flaws therein.

Polls Chief Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday said that those who held portfolios retained them in spite of the dissolution of Parliament.

The committee comprised Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and General Secretary of the Communist Party, D. E.W. Gunasekera, UPFA MP Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine Rajitha Senaratne, UPFA MP Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Democratic National Alliance MP Sunil Handunetti, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Arjuna Ranatunga, UPFA MP Hassan Ali, Deputy Minister of Highways and Investment Promotion Eran Wickramaratna, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Deputy Minister of Justice Sujeewa Senasinghe, UPFA MP Weerakumara Dissanyake, Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) MP E. Saravanapavan and State Minister of Child Development Rosy Senanayake.

Senasinghe was responding on behalf of the UNP to front-page lead story ‘COPE inquiry finds Mahendran had intervened in bond issue’ in yesterday’s issue of The Sunday Island.

The UNPer said that during last Friday’s deliberations among members of the committee he had asked whether the report was being prepared in the kitchen of former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal. Senasinghe also revealed that the report had been prepared at the residence of UPFA General Secretary Susil Premjayantha.

Responding to a query by The Island, the Deputy Minister alleged that the COPE Chairman and head of the special committee had cooperated with a section of the SLFP conspiring against the UNP to sling mud at the UNP. Senasinghe claimed that this was part of their general election campaign.

The report on Central Bank bond issue was nothing but a gimmick, Senasinghe alleged, adding that the inquiry was meant to identify main issues relevant to accusations directed at the Governor.

Senasinghe alleged that evidence available to the committee couldn’t be used as a tool to tarnish the image of a political party.

Asked whether he had opposed the release of the report during the committee’s last session before the dissolution, Senasinghe said that he successfully countered accusations among those outsiders present on that occasion were Attorney General as well as Lionel Fernando, a veteran civil servant. During deliberations, Senasinghe accused D. E. W. Gunasekera of being in an indecent hurry to release the report. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka had been playing politics and working overtime to propagate the Opposition line for the benefit of those who had robbed the national economy with impunity. The recent investigations undertaken by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) had exposed unprecedented waste, corruption and irregularities in the public sector, the DM said.

Senasinghe pointed out that Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe had in no uncertain terms questioned the impartiality of the COPE during a speech he delivered at the Central Bank auditorium at Rajagiriya last Thursday. The premier, quite rightly asserted that the COPE was pursuing an agenda of its own therefore its findings couldn’t be acceptable.

Strongly denying accusations directed at him and his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius formerly of Perpetual Treasuries as contained in the special investigation report, Central Bank Governor Mahendran told The Island that he had nothing to hide. Referring to specific accusation that he had intervened in the process by entering the Public Debt Department on the day of the controversial bond auction, Mahendran said that he had spoken to the head of that department in the presence of two Deputy Governors of the Central Bank regarding the requirement to obtain Rs 10 billion. The official insisted that as he had explained his actions to the special parliamentary committee he believed there was no room for misinterpretations.


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