The officers attached to the Public Debt Department of the Central Bank invested in government securities during their career at the Bank, proceedings at the Presidential Commission inquiring into the Treasury bond issue revealed.
Former Senior Assistant Director of the Central Bank’s IT Department Sulochana Wickramasooriya giving evidence however said that he was unaware if the said officers invested in government securities during the time they were working in the Public Debt Department. “I am aware of officers who invested in government securities (who at somepoint were attached to the PDD), but I am not sure whether they invested while they were working in the Public Debt Department.” Wickramasooriya explained to the Commission. Wickramasooriya was summoned before the Presidential Commission based on the evidence given by former Chief Dealer of the Bank of Ceylon J.D.K.Dharmapala.
According to Dharmapala’s testimony before the Commission, an officer from the Central Bank appeared at the Bank of Ceylon to invest on Treasury bonds at a rate of 12.25 on the day prior to the questioned Treasury bond auction that took place on February 27,2015. The said officer is Sulochana Wickramasooriya.
Dharmapala in his testimony stated that the said officer came to the Bank of Ceylon on February 26,2015,and forwarded an application to invest on Treasury bonds, while bringing a sum of Rs.750,000 with him.
Commissioner Justice Jayawardena questioned Wickramasooriya on the rate that the witness was interested to invest in Treasury bonds.
Wickramasooriya said, he thought that he was looking for a rate around 11.00 to invest. He also said, he decided on such a rate considering the previous fixed deposit rates. Justice Jayawardena pointed out the fixed deposit rates at the time were much lower to the rate Wickramasooriya was looking for. Following the questioning of Justice Jayawardena,it was also revealed that Wickramasooriya had a government securities account since 2005.
Justice Jayawardena asked Wickramasooriya as to why he wanted to invest specifically at the February 15, 2015 auction, to which the witness said that he thought it would be a good invest. Justice Jayawardena asked as to why he did not invest at the previous Treasury bond auction, to which Wickramasooriya said he did not have the time and the space to do so. Justice Jayawardena pointed out that the witness has approached the Bank of Ceylon on February 26,2015, in his office hours. Meanwhile, Senior Assistant Director Steffie Fernando, attached to the Public Debt Department, Front Office, was also summoned before the Commission yesterday to testify regarding certain telephone conversations she had with former Chief Dealer of the BOC on February 27,2015.
Asked whether there was an indicative rate for the February 27,2015 auction, Fernando said there was not. She said the discussed rate of 9.35 in the telephone conversations was the approved rate for the last 30-year direct placement issued. Fernando also said she was transferred from the Front Office to the Middle Office on the 06 March 2016. Justice Jayawardena asked her whether she is aware as to who transferred her and as to why. Fernando said she is unaware as to who
wanted to transfer her or why she was transferred.
“My Head of the Division told me that one officer is to be transferred into the Front Office and there is no choice but to transfer me to the Middle Office,” she explained.
Asked as to how the Front Office communicated with the Primary Dealers,Fernando said it was a two way communication where both the Primary Dealer and the Front Office initiated conversations.
Fernando is further to be questioned by the lawyers representing Perpetual Treasuries Limited and former Governor Arjun Mahendran next Monday (03).