Legal proceedings jeopardised due to remarks of some COPE members - Kiriella

30-year Central Bank bond issue


by Zacki Jabbar


Some members of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), by publicly pronouncing former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran guilty over the February 2015, 30-year bond issue while proceedings were continuing, had jeopardised  legal action, Leader of the House and Minister of Higher Education and Highways Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday.

Kirielle told The Sunday Island that he had repeatedly advised those COPE members including its Chairman Sunil Handunetti and JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake not to give press conferences alleging that Mahendran was guilty while the bond issue was being inquired into, since it went against the principles of natural justice and fair play and would affect  any legal proceedings that may be instituted.

"What the COPE members did is similar to a judge hearing a case, publicly delivering his verdict even before proceedings were completed. Such a judgment would be weak and naturally  be thrown out in appeal", he said, adding that the UNP would  not attempt to sweep things under the carpet.

The Minister noted  that the group of parliamentarians led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa were howling in protest, having forgotten that it was under their government that the worst scandals had occured and 30 COPE reports were thrown into the dustbin, while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had promptly referred COPE’s latest report to the Attorney General for necessary action.

The Prime Minister wanted to strengthen parliamentary control of finances, he said..

Rajapaksa loyalists had also forgotten that unlike them, Wickremesinghe, both in 2001 and 2015  appointed Opposition MPs to head COPE, while Mahinda selected his own men as Chairmen Kirialle recalled."Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa  was forced to resign as COPE Chairman because he unearthed massive corruption in various State institutions".

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