Prez urged to look into CIABOC

Inordinate delay in contentious probes:


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney-at-law and public interest litigation activist Nagananda Kodituwakku yesterday told The Island that President Maithripala Sirisena’s call for hanging those found guilty of misappropriation of public funds should be examined against the backdrop of the failure on the part of Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) probe a spate of major complaints lodged by him since the change of government in January 2015.

Kodituwakku said that it would be President Sirisena’s responsibility to ensure the state apparatus speedily inquired into major cases. Responding to a query, Kodituwakku said that the government needed to take tangible measures without resorting to rhetoric.

Kodituwakku said that President Sirisena referred to how Singapore and China speedily dealt with misappropriation of public funds. "We don’t have to hang politicians and officials. Swift legal and disciplinary action can be taken against lawmakers, public officials and anyone in the public sector. Such action can deter them," Kodituwakku said, urging President Sirisena to inquire into the CIABOC procedures.

Obviously, President Sirisena, quite conveniently had forgotten the role played by some of those still in the government in 2015 and 2016 treasury bond scams, Kodituwakku said.

Asked whether he intended to take up the issue with the CIABOC, Kodituwakku said that he wrote to Chairman of CIABOC justice T.B. Weerasuriya on Sept. 4 reminding him of the inordinate delay in having certain cases investigated. Kodituwakku, who also holds British citizenship and enjoys the right to function as a Solicitor there said that the CIABOC maintained with public funds was meant to pursue a strategy to tackle bribery and corruption.

Unfortunately, the CIABOC had neglected its responsibilities, the lawyer lamented.

Kodituwakku said that he complained to the CIABOC (1) in respect of Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, wrongly advising Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Sept. 20 to put off scheduled Provincial Council polls. The AG’s advice was contrary to the Supreme Court ruling given on Sept 8.  (2)The failure on the part of Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya to serve a fresh indictment on the former Minister Ravi Karunanayake, who was discharged because he was served with a faulty indictment in respect of USD 3 mn money laundering case related to Raj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group. Colombo High Court judge Iranganee Perera on May 18, 2015 discharged Karunanayake on the basis of him being served with a faulty indictment. In spite of there being provision to serve a fresh indictment both Jayasuriya and his predecessor Yuvanjana Wijayatilake neglected their responsibilities                                              (3) Continuing failure on the part of the CIABOC to initiate probe on massive duty free vehicle scam perpetrated by lawmakers, except those representing the JVP.

Kodituwakku alleged that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had so far failed to go flat out against corruption though a permanent High Court comprising three judges was set up recently. In his letter to CIABOC Chairman retired Supreme Court Justice Weerasuriya, with copy to Jayasuriya, Kodituwakku pointed out that incumbent President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) U.R. de Silva, PC, made an abortive bid to move Supreme Court against the amendment proposed to relevant law as regards the formation of new permanent Special High Court. Kodituwakku pointed out that much to the delight of the public the Supreme Court rejected the move to deliberately put off cases according to the whims and fancies of lawyers.

Commenting on the treasury bond scams involving the disgraced primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL), Kodituwakku alleged that the CIABOC and Attorney General hadn’t so far moved the Special High Court against those whom action was recommended by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on controversial treasury transactions.

Kodituwakku said that he would move the Supreme Court against the CIABOC and the Attorney General’s Department unless indictments were served on treasury bond suspects to be tried in the Special High Court.

Responding to a query, Kodituwakku said that the CIABOC top team comprising its Chairman Justice Weerasuriya, Justice W. Lal Ranjith Silva (Commissioner) and C. Neville Guruge (Commissioner) and its Director General Sarath Jayamanne was promoting a costly foreign funded project to tackle bribery and corruption.

Kodituwakku said that parliament in its capacity as the apex institution accountable for public sector finances should inquire into brazen acts of corruption and collusion between lawmakers and some sections of the judiciary.

The fact that President Sirisena having to tell parliament that those found guilty of corruption should be hanged painted a bleak picture of Sri Lanka.

Kodituwakku emphasized the urgent need to move court against those responsible for corrupt transactions during the previous and current administrations alike.

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