AG faults CBSL chief

Decision on new Governor today

By Saman Indrajith

The government will announce today the successor to Governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran, who is under a cloud. Mahendran’s term expires today. Speculation was rife yesterday that President Maithripala Sirisena would appoint an acting Governor by last evening. However, a discussion between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Central Bank Governor’s office yesterday ended inconclusively.

Deputy Governors of the Central Bank, Mahendran and several others attended the meeting.

President Sirisena addressed the Central Bank employees last evening.

The President arrived at the Central Bank around 4.00 pm, followed by the Prime Minister and they were welcomed by the incumbent Governor Arjuna Mahendran, who rushed there on hearing their arrival.

The meeting in Mahendran’s office had lasted about 40 minutes, sources said.

Mahendran has announced that he will not apply for an extension until the final report of the COPE on Treasury bond sales scandal cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Earlier in the day President Sirisena said that he would appoint a new governor to the Central Bank yesterday itself.

Addressing a ceremony held at Mahaweli Grounds in Girandurukotte, the President said that the term of the incumbent governor would on June 30 and a new Governor would be appointed to the post within hours.

Several government ministers of the UPFA including Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena also said that the appointment of a new Governor to the Central Bank would be done yesterday itself. Minister Abeywardena said so while addressing the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing held at the Government Information Department.

Meanwhile, Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe confirmed to the Parliamentary watchdog committee (COPE) yesterday that there had been wrongdoing with regard to the treasury bond sales on the part of the Governor of the Central Bank Arjun Mahendran.

AG Wijesinghe summoned before the COPE had submitted a brief report with regard to his investigation into the bond scandal, COPE sources told The Island. His complete report running into 1,251 pages was handed over to the Speaker’s Office yesterday morning.

In the brief report to the COPE Wijesinghe observed that the sale of Treasury bond sales had been manipulated and that had resulted in a massive loss to the country.

The COPE has unanimously accepted the findings of the AG’s report and is scheduled to meet again on July 05 to decide on the future course of action, according to sources. Top officials of the Central Bank would be summoned again before the COPE on July 07 to question them on the findings of the AG’s report, a senior COPE member told The Island.

Out of the 26 members of the COPE only 16 were present at the yesterday’s meeting. Those present were Sunil Handunnetti (Chairman), Anura Priiyadarshana Yapa (UPFA), Dayasiri Jayasekera (UPFA), Ravindra Samaraweera (UNP), Lasantha Alagiyawanna (UPFA), Dr Harsha de Silva (UNP), Ranjan Ramanayake (UNP), Ashok Abeysinghe (UNP), Anura Kumara Dissanayake (JVP), Chandrasiri Gajadeera (UPFA), Bimal Ratnayake (JVP), Weerakumara Dissanayake (UPFA), Hector Appuhamy (UNP), Dr Nalinda Jayatissa (JVP), Harshana Rajakaruna (UNP), and Mahindananda Aluthgamage (UPFA).

A COPEā€ˆmember said: "Now the COPE has accepted the findings of the AG’s investigation. The AG’s document would be made use as a source for the forthcoming COPE report. We will study that report and meet again on July 05." Appearing on Sirasa TV yesterday morning, AG Wijesinghe assured that he would do the correct thing by the country and would not be influenced by anyone.

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