Biggest planned robbery of public funds

Rsnjith Soysa (Island Opinion Pagfe)

I was listening to a very professional presentation on the Central Bank bonds robbery by the veteran banker and public activist Rusiripala Tennekoon (may his unenviable efforts be rewarded!), in which he cited a number of dates and incidents which weave an incredible story of a set of criminals scheming to rob the Central Bank and other connected institutions, and by hook or by crook through their deft actions to cover their backs, still continue brazenly to handle the affairs of the State. It is indeed an incredulous story of a series of events which can only take place in a few countries like Sri Lanka.

The unprecedented two events which took place in February 2015, one by moving the Central Bank to the Prime Minister’s ministerial responsibility and second by appointing a non- citizen, Arjuna Mahendran as the Governor of the Central Bank on 27th Feb 2015, were crucial factors in the sordid story which unfolded. Mr Tennekoon drew the attention of the audience to another three dramatic, but calculated key issues, which were directly connected to the plot. Mr Arjuna Aloysius resigned from the position of a director of the Perpetual Treasuries on 2015.01.06 (did he know his uncle will be appointed as the Governor!), and the other relevant incident was the extra-ordinary meeting held at the Central Bank premises on 26.02.15 where Ravi Karunanayake, Kabir Hashim (Secy-UNP), Malik Samarawickrama (President, UNP) conferred with Arjuna Mahendran and concluded that the Government is in urgent need of Rs 15 billion, whereas the Monetary Board had decided on a much lesser figure. The last, but not the least important event, was the change of the bond sales method by the Governor and his direct intervention in the process of calling for the bids for the bonds.

The key actors were on their high horses and looted the Nation and it is estimated that the loss incurred by the Central Bank alone was Rs 754 billion on the day of the bond issue on 29th March 2017. The profit earned by Perpetual Treasuries during the two bond issues exceeded more than 106%, compared to the relevant figure for the previous year.

Mr Tennekoon who had published a comprehensive booklet on the Tale of the Bond Sales, in a chapter with the heading ‘ The end of the unfinished story’ concludes, in spite of obvious and planned plot to rob the country’s resources and the country has in fact been looted, investigation by committees including two COPE committees, the complaints made to Bribery Commission, the wide publicity and the exposure in the media and to the public, the bond scam perpetrators have not been brought to the book. He is of the view that a powerful unseen hand is shooting down the flames.

The billions earned by the criminals greased the palms of many a person who sees no evil, hears no evil, and even opts to play the role of the Devil Dodger. While many issues have been touted to the inquisitive public, such as prolonged discussions on the Constitution to distract their attention from the great bank robbery in camouflaging the truth, hope springs always for justice, fair –play and the rule of law.

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