by Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry, probing alleged bond scams, resumed sittings yesterday, with Chief Dealer of Perpetual Treasuries (PTL), Nuwan Thilina Salgado, testifying. He said the company had been able to make unprecedentedly huge profits because of inside information and price sensitive confidential information PTL Chairman Arjun Aloysius had received from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
Salgado told the commission that from 2015 to 2016, the company had recorded an unusually high profit of Rs. 11 billion and the price sensitive confidential information provided by Mahendran had helped them take right decisions in placing bids for Treasury bonds.
In answer to a question by commission member Justice Prasanna Jayawardena, Salgado said Arjun Aloysius knew the interest rates at which the Central Bank accepted bids for Treasury bonds.
The final decision on bids were taken by the Central Bank Governor.
The witness said the then Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran was the father-in -law of PTL Chairman Arjun Aloysius.
Answering further questions by Justice Jayawardena, Salgado said that Aloysius had information about the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) would make bids on March 29, 2016.
Salgado said that Aloysius’ informers were within the establishments from where he received information.
When Justice Jayawardena asked whether it was true that Saman Kumara was among them, Salgado answered in the affirmative.
He said the information about the bids, placed by National Savings Bank, had been provided by Navin Anuradha.
Salgado admitted that Arjun Aloysius had made use of the price sensitive confidential, inside information by passing it on to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Kasun Palisena so as to make the bids in a manner favourable to Perpetual Treasuries.
The Chief Dealer of PTL also said that on one occasion when such information was received by Aloysius, in Singapore, he had been present, but he had left the room as it was an illegal practice.
He said so when Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda played the recording of a telephone conversation between Kasun Palisena and Arjun Aloysius before the Commission and raised a question.
Commission Chairman Justice K.T. Chitrasiri, said former Central Bank Governor, Arjuna Mahendran, and his son-in-law Aloysius, Chairman Perpetual Treasuries, would be summoned before the Commission during the coming week.
Kodagoda said that though the Commission officers had visited Aloysius’ residence to hand over the summons, they had been unable to meet him.
He told the commission that even Aloysius’ Private Secretary didn’t know where his boss resided.
Additional Solicitor General Kodagoda said Aloysius had two passports and requested the Commission to order Aloysius’ lawyer to submit their numbers to the Commission quickly.
Additional Solicitor General: No one knows the whereabouts of Arjun Aloysius and he has not informed anyone where he was going.
At this point, Aloysius’ lawyer Anuja Premaratne told the Commission that his client had not gone into hiding.
Premaratne said his client was ready to appear before the commission on any date and he would inform his client that the commission was looking for him to hand over the summons.
Additional Solicitor General: The issue is that Aloysius has not informed anyone of his whereabouts.
Premaratne: There are many who disappear without leaving a trace. It is no surprise.
Commission Chairman Justice Chitrasiri said the Commission’s objective as well as responsibility was to inquire into how the bond auctions had taken place and complete its task and if it could be done the commission members would be very happy about it.
Justice Chitrasiri said the commission had to summon more witnesses than expected as it had to ascertain the veracity of evidence some witnesses had given.