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Bond Commission proceedings concluded

Bond Commission proceedings concluded

Requests President to extend warrant period

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating into the Treasury Bond issue yesterday completed recording evidence which began on February 21, 2017.

Commission Chairman, Supreme Court Judge, Justice K.T. Chithrasiri stated that in the event any new material is identified and the Commissioners are of the view that such evidence should be placed as formal evidence, further hearings will be held.

Justice Chithrasiri said hearings continued for 120 days with 63 witnesses giving evidence before the Commission.

Chairman Justice Chithrasiri also stated that the Commission of Inquiry has forwarded a list of questions, in the nature of interrogatories to the Prime Minister requesting him to “provide his answers by way of an affidavit.”

“Upon receipt of the affidavit, the Commission of Inquiry will peruse its contents and, if necessary, request the Hon.Prime Minister to attend a hearing of the Commission of Inquiry to give evidence or request the Hon.Prime Minister to provide further clarification, as this Commission of Inquiry considers necessary,” the statement further said.

Chairman Justice Chithrasiri also said that they are compelled to request from the President to extend the warrant period of the Treasury Bond Commission, considering that the Commission is now at the “complex, arduous and time consuming exercise” of preparing the report of the Commission which needs careful “studying and analysing of all the oral and documentary evidence” received by the Commission. The Commission’s mandate period will end on October 27, 2017.

The Commission commended the Attorney General’s panel for the assistance they gave to the tribunal. The statement further said that “They have worked long hours and have demonstrated sustained dedication to their task of presenting evidence, which has to be gathered from a very large amount of documents and after consultation with many persons.”

The Commission appreciated the contribution of other legal counsels who assisted the Commission, the CID officers attached to it and to the Commission Secretary S. Udugamasuriya.

Senior Additional Solicitor General Dappula de Livera expressed his gratitude to the Commission and thanked the CID officers who were very much dedicated to unravel crucial information in the investigation. He also commended the team from the Central Bank who assisted the Attorney General’s Department in the investigation.

ASG Kodagoda said there would be more witnesses and evidence unearthed and requested the Commission to consider these new evidences as well. While pointing out the findings of the Commission at present is like a “half baked cake”, ASG Kodagoda observed that it is the duty of the Commission to give a “properly baked cake” to the public. ASG Kodagoda also alleged that PTL, with the evidence before the Commission, is “a criminal organisation doing insider trading, bribing and destroying evidence.”

Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) owner Arjun Aloysius’s Personal Assistant Steve Samuel yesterday testified before the Commission. He was supposed to testify before the Commission last week. However, his legal assistant informed the tribunal that he has had a cardiac arrest and was hospitalised.

The Commission, after finding out that Samuel was discharged requested his legal representative to appear before the Commission to testify.

Senior State Counsel Dr. Avanti Perera who lead evidence for the day, questioned Samuel on several text messages he has sent to his boss Arjun Aloysius. He was also questioned on two files maintained under the headings AM and RK.

A text message sent by Samuel to Aloysius, on November 8, 2017 says, ‘next meeting at 7 a.m. with Ravi K.” Another message on November 22, 2016 says ‘Yes, I do have it on my notes for today-RK/TO DO LIST. And also we have the A.Mahendran – To Do LIST.’ Another message on January 3, 2017 says ‘Reminder-Meeting at 10pm with RK/New to do list file/and AM to do list will be sent home.’ Another message said, ‘GM Chairman. Hope you had a good meeting with RK. Just update me when you and I meet before you leave tonight.’

SSC Dr. Avanti Perera asked Samuel who RK, Ravi K, AM and A Mahendran are. Samuels denied any knowledge of who RK he was referring to when he sent the messages. However, Samuel understands A. Mahendran to be Anjalee Mahendran, his boss’s wife. SSC Dr. Avanti Perera asked did not AM mean Arjun Mahendran. Samuel said he never corresponded for Arjun Mahendran. He also said he was not exposed to any files under the headings of AM or RK. According to Samuel the documents he received were usually enveloped and sealed.

SSC Dr. Avanti Perera: So, it your position that you don’t know who RK is?

Steve Samuel: No, I don’t know.

SSC: But you refer to a ‘good meeting’ (she is referring to the content of a certain message)

SS: I usually greet him so. It could be a Good Morning, Good Day. It is a normal thing I do as a PA.

Justice Jayawardena: Now, Mr. Samuel it would be good if you cooperate. Obviously your boss would know about the RK and AM. Perhaps, Arjun Aloysius would have been in the habit of meeting then finance minister Ravi Karunanayake for various reasons.

SS: He does not tell me about his meetings. I have never gone to any of his meetings. I don’t sit in his office.

JJ: You obviously would have known this meeting is important.

SS: I must have reminded about the meeting to him.

JJ: So who is this all important RK?

SS: I was not informed about it.

JJ: Are you still an employee of Perpetual Treasuries Limited?

SS: Yes.

While, SSC Perera was carrying the witness through several more messages and repetitively questioned as to who RK and AM are, Justice P.S. Jayawardena observed that Samuel has taken a position to give answers in such nature so that it is better to put the questions to him, receive his answer and move on with the questioning.

At this instance, Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda rose to observe that the witness is speaking falsehood. “This man who has punched these text messages into his phone now says he does not know or cannot remember about them. Are we to blindly accept that he sent these messages without knowing about these people?” he exclaimed.

Justice Jayawardena: It is very clear to us that he knew exactly who he was referring to when he typed these messages.

ASG K: This man is lying! He is blatantly lying and misleading the Commission

JJ: I do not want to be accused of pre-judging but the conclusion of his evidence is very clear.

SS: (states that he is not lying)

JJ: At the time you were sending text messages, you knew exactly who you were referring to. But now you claim you cannot remember.

SS: Yes, I cannot remember.

Samuel was also asked questions on several more text messages where he mentions a person called ‘Saman Indika Kumara’. While Samuel denied knowing the said person, Dr. Avanti Perera asked if the person he was referring to was ‘Indika Saman Kumara’ who was the Chief Dealer of the Employee’s Provident Fund. Samuel said he has never seen this person.

Samuel was also questioned on an email of which the subject says ‘Meeting Boss-RK/Reminder Proposed auction for the Week. The email has been generated on March 29, 2017. Samuel again denied knowing as to who RK is. Dr. Perera pointed out that there was in fact a bond auction the same week the email was sent.

When asked on files under the headings of AM and RK, Samuel again denied knowing what is meant by RK and AM. He said that he does not maintain these files and said he does not know as to who maintain the said file. Samuel said “I am not doing anything other than what is told.”

Meanwhile, Samuels broke down and cried in the witness box when his legal representative questioned on his mother’s condition. Samuel said that his mother is at ICU at present in a coma.

The Assistant Director of the Department of Supervision of Non Banking Financial Institutions of the Central Bank P.S. Sedara gave evidence before the Commission as well.

(Daily News)

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