Malik, Kabir say they discussed Rs.15 bn fund requirement at breakfast meeting

Published : 9:16 am  October 12, 2017 | No comments so far |  |  (151) reads | 

When asked whether Perpetual Treasuries Ltd, Arjun Aloysius, Geoffrey Aloysius (father), Freelanka Group or any immediate member to them had made a fund contribution to UNP, Ministers Malik Samarawickrema and Kabir Hashim said there was no such contribution by them to the party 

 

By Shehan Chamika Silva 

Minister of Public Enterprises Development Kabir Hashim and Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrema yesterday testifying before the commission said that they attended the breakfast meeting held on February 26, 2015 (before the controversial auction) and discussed about an immediate Rs. 15 billion fund requirement for Road Development projects.  

At the onset of  yesterday’s proceedings, it was revealed that there was a list of 20 witnesses submitted to the Commission by the Officials of Attorney General’s Department attached to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry in expectation of obtaining testimonies pertaining to the bond inquiry.   

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However, considering the time constraints, the Commission had decided to summon three witnesses out of that. They were EPF former dealer Saman Kumara, Aloysius’ personal Assistant Steve Samuel and Mr. Nihal Fonseka (Monetary Board member).  


It was also stated that the decision to summon Minister of Public Enterprises development Kabir Hashim and Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama had been taken by the Commission itself not the officials of the Attorney General’s Department.  


Both of the ministers yesterday appeared before the Commission and testified with regard to a ‘breakfast meeting’ said to have been held on February 26, 2015 (before the controversial bond auction) at the CBSL.  


Earlier, it transpired during the proceedings that a Rs. 75 billion fund requirement for the Road Development projects had been discussed at this meeting.   


Former Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s lawyer had also submitted a letter to the Commission which was given by the Finance Ministry to the Governor confirming about holding of such meeting.   


However, this letter was sent to the Governor by then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake much later in June 2016 when Mr. Mahendran was testifying before the Hadunnetti COPE.  


Minister Malik Samarawickrama first testified before the Commission yesterday and Justice K.T. Chitrasiri and Commissioner retired Deputy Auditor General K. Velupillai Kandasami questioned the witness.  


Minister Malik Samarawickrama


Justice Chitrasiri: Did you attend the February 26, 2015?  


Witness Minister Malik Samarawickrama: Yes  


Justice Kandasami: In what capacity did you attended that meeting?  


Witness Minister Malik Samarawickrama: As a senior Advisor to the Prime Minister  


Justice Chitrasiri: Who were the members that participated in that meeting?  


W: Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Minister Kabir Hashim, former Governor Arjuna Mahendran, RDA officials, Treasury officials and CBSL officials  


J: What was the purpose for holding such a meeting?  


The witness said that the Prime Minister had suggested to the then Finance Minister and the Government that the on going Road Development projects had been stopped due to unpaid bills by the previous regime. And therefore he came to discuss about the fund requirement to pay those bills.  


J: What was the fund requirement?  


Witness said that there was a Rs. 18 billion fund requirement discussed. However at that time the RDA had Rs. 3 billion in hand and therefore, there was an immediate Rs. 15 billion fund requirement to continue the Road Development projects.  


J: was it discussed how to raise funds in the meeting?  


W: No. There was no discussion as to how to raise funds but discussed about the fund requirement.

  
J: Did that meeting discuss anything about the T-bond auction, which was scheduled to be held on the following day (February 27)?  


W: None. There was no discussion at all.  


J: Did you talk with former Governor Arjuna Mahendran on the telephone after the meeting on February 26 or on February 27?  


W: As far as I recollect, no.  


J: What is your position in the United National Party (UNP) in 2015 and 2016?  


W: Chairman of UNP  

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J: During that period can you say that Perpetual Treasuries Ltd, Arjun Aloysius, Geoffrey Aloysius (father), Freelanka Group or any immediate member to them had made a fund contribution to UNP?  


W: As far as I know, no. Not to the party or even to me.  


Then the Commission asked counsel of the Attorney General’s Department whether they have any questions to ask. However, Additional Solicitor General Dappula De Livera said that they have no question to ask fromMinister Malik Samarawickrama.  


Minister of Public Enterprises development Kabir Hashim


Justice Chitrasiri: Did you attend the February 26, 2015?  


Witness Minister Kabir Hashim: Yes  


J: In what capacity?  


Witness Kabir Hashim: As the Minister of Highways  


Who were the other members that attended this meeting?  


W: Senior advisor to the Prime Minister Malik Samarawickrama, former Governor Arjuna Mahendran, RDA officials, CBSL officials and Treasury officials were there.  


J: What was the purpose of that meeting?  


According to the witness the Road Development projects had been stopped at that time due to unpaid bills by the previous regime.   
The witness said therefore the RDA wanted funds to recommence those halted projects for unpaid bills. Mr. Hashim said that RDA had informed the Treasury Secretary about these unpaid bills on February 16, 2015.   


When asked by the Commission, the witness said that he can provide the letters sent by the RDA if necessary to the Commission.  
Mr. Hashim said there was an urgent fund requirement of Rs. 18 billion for the Road Development projects. He said there was an allocation of Rs. 3 billion in the RDA at that time and thereby needed an immediate fund requirement of Rs. 15 billion. 

 
The witness also explained that this requirement of funds for the RDA had been discussed at the Cabinet Sub Committee meeting held on February 24, 2015 as well.  


He said then they forwarded this fund requirement at the breakfast meeting held on February 26, 2015. 

 
At this moment Justice Prasanna Jayawardena asked “You are sure about this fund requirement of Rs. 18 billion, right?” 

 
Witness said that initially there was a discussion about a Rs. 18 billion requirement and after the allocations of the RDA (Rs. 3 billion) there was an immediate Rs. 15 billion needed for the recommencement of the Road Development projects. “In the meeting we submitted our side to the officials over the urgent fund requirement and CBSL officials and then Finance Minister said that they will support us.”  


When questioned by the Commission, the witness said that RDA received Rs. 8.3 billion in the beginning of the Month of March from the Treasury. He said thereafter they requested the Treasury for the balance 10 billion on March 16, 2015.  


Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: In the middle of March you still wanted that Rs. 18 billion. Which means that Rs. 18 billion February fund requirement remained unchanged even for the month of March?  


Witness’s answer was affirmative.  


Justice Chitrasiri: Did that meeting discuss anything about the T-bond auction, which was scheduled to be held following day (February 27)?  


W: No  


J: Did you speak to former Governor Arjuna Mahendran on telephone on February 26 or 27 after the meeting? 

 
W: To the best of my knowledge I don’t think so.  


 J: What is your position in United National Party (UNP) in 2015 and 2016?  


W: General Secretary  


J: During that period can you say that Perpetual Treasuries Ltd, Arjun Aloysius, Geoffrey Aloysius (father), Freelanka Group or any immediate member to them had made a fund contribution to UNP?  


W: Best my recollection, no.  


At this point again the Commission asked the counsel of the Attorney General’s Department whether they have any questions to ask. However, Additional Solicitor General Dappula De Livera said again that they have no questions to ask fromMinister Kabir Hashim as well.  


However, Counsel Arulpragasam who was appearing on behalf of PTL questioned Minister Kabir Hashim regarding the National Savings Bank (NSB).  


It was revealed that the state bank institutions came under the purview of the Minister since September 2015 after the General Election.   
Counsel Arulpragasam: During your period, did NSB incur a loss? 

 
W: I think they haven’t had a loss  


Counsel: Was that a substantial profit?  


W: Yes. Because dividends were at a record level  


Counsel: Were you aware that the Treasury Operation Department at NSB gained profits during this period?  


W: I monitored it overall. And overall there was a profits.  


Counsel: Do you know NSB dealer Naveen Anuradha?  


W: Not personally  


Counsel: Who appointed him?  


W: The NSB Chairman. The bank had asked the CBSL to send an official to NSB and thereby he got appointed.  


Counsel: Would you say Naveen Anuradha was a good performer?  


W: I can’t say about it specifically.   

 


 

 

AG’s Dept says they have no questions

 

By Shehan Chamika Silva  

The team of counsel of the Attorney General’s Department, who were led by Senior Additional Solicitor General Dappula De Livera yesterday in an uncharacteristic manner said that they have no questions to ask from the three witnesses (Minister Kabir Hashim, Minister Malik Samarawickrema and former EPF dealer Saman Kumara) when the Commission invited to question them if necessary.  

 

The Commission stated that Minister of Public Enterprises development Kabir Hashim and Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama had been summoned by them and were not listed by the Attorney General’s Department.   
After the conclusion of the Commission’s questioning, the Commission asked the Counsel of the Attorney General’s Department whether they have any questions to ask from the two ministers. However, Additional Solicitor General Dappula De Livera said: “We have no questions to ask”.  


In the absence of Aloysius’ personal assistant Steve Samuel, former EPF dealer Saman Kumara was then called to give evidence. This witness was one of the witnesses that the Counsel of the Attorney General’s Department had earlier suggested to be summoned. 

 
However, after the Conclusion of the Commission’s questioning the Counsel of the Attorney General’s Department again did not question Saman Kumara as well.  

 


 

Aloysius’ PA Samuel gets chest pain and does not turn up to testify

 

Counsel suggests that Samuel can answer whatever questions the Commission wishes to ask in an affidavit if that questionnaire would be given in a notice in the event Samuel is unable to attend the Commission due to his “medical condition”

 

By Shehan Chamika Silva  

In the wake of Aloysius’ personal assistant, Steve Samuel’s Counsel informing that his client was admitted to the hospital due to a chest pain and is unable to appear before the Commission, Justice Prasanna Jayawardena yesterday stressed that the Commission wants to see the files maintained by PTL under the heading of ‘RK’ and ‘AM’. 

 

 After a short adjournment, the Commission again commenced its proceedings summoning Aloysius’ personal assistant Steve Samuel to testify after the conclusion of the testimonies of two Ministers.  


At this moment Counsel Jeewantha Jayathileke who was appearing on behalf of Steve Samuel said that he was informed in the morning that his client had been admitted to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at the Asiri Hospital, which is the emergency unit for cardiac problems.   


He said his client had been diagnosed with some chest pain and currently running a full investigation and at the moment the medical reports are just about to be sent to the Commission. And he also undertook to tender the Medical reports to the Commission once he received them.  

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Mr. Jayatileke said that Samuel had been present on every day even yesterday and this was a genuine problem and not to avoid the Commission.  


Justice Prasanna Jayawardena at this point told the Counsel “One of the reasons that Samuel was called was because as you know there were some text messages referring to files maintained by PTL for certain persons, so we want to see those files”


Justice Jayawardena asked Counsel Jayatilleke to ask Mr. Samuel to produce those files to the Commission even if he is unable to come.  


“We would expect those files to be produced before the Commission in the course of today for the perusal of the Commission”, Justice Jayawardena said.  


“We have also endeavoured to serve summons on Mr. Arjun Aloysius and Geoffrey Aloysius with regard to those files, and apparently they are difficult to locate. The Counsel who was representing Aloysius is here, so kindly inform him to ensure to notice his client to deliver the files in the course of today”, Justice Jayawardena said.  


Justice Jayawardena also said “And tell him kindly that we will not consider a failure to produce those files, very kindly.”


Counsel Jayatilleke also said that notices have been received by Aloysius as well with regard to the said files.

  
However, he said according to the instructions received from his client, Aloysius’ Personal Assistant ‘Steve Samuel is not in possession of any of those files at the moment’.


Mr. Jayatilleke also undertook to submit an affidavit pertaining to the notice sent by the Commission previously and the Medical report and medical history supporting his condition.  


At this point Justice Jayawardena said that the Commission also wants to know as to who were the persons referred to as ‘AM’ and ‘RK’ in those text messages from Steve Samuel.  


Mr. Jayatilleke then suggested that his client can answer whatever the questions the Commission wishes to ask in an affidavit if that questionnaire would be given in a notice in the event if his client Steve Samuel is unable to attend the Commission due to his medical condition.


“We will cross that bridge later; first you produce medical reports tomorrow to substantiate your submission. Also we want to see those files”, Justice Jayawardena emphasized.


However, in the absence of Steve Samuel the Commission called former EPF dealer Saman Kumara to testify before the Commission.  
The Commission questioned the witness after playing two voice recordings in which PABC dealer Raveesha and EPF dealer Saman Kumara were negotiating a deal.  


Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: There was a deal happening after these conversations, right?  


Witness Saman Kumara: Yes  


Justice Jayawardena: You were the dealer at EPF in October and November 2015, right? 

 
W: Yes  


J: So, every deal of EPF gets recorded in the CBSL system (Lanka Settle System and Lanka Secure System)?

  
W: Yes  


J: And these details regarding to the EPF deals would transpire in the daily reports as well, right?  


W: Yes. But some may not be there considering the settlement date. 

 
J: Apart from that other details are there, right?  


W: Yes  

 


At this point the Commission asked counsel of the Attorney General’s Department whether they have any questions to ask. However, Additional Solicitor General Dappula De Livera said that they have no questions to ask fromSaman Kumara as well.