Three suspects, including former President’s Chief of Staff, Gamini Sedara Senarath were yesterday ordered to be remanded till November 15 by Colombo Fort Magistrate for allegedly missing public funds by illegally investing Rs.4 billion from the Rs.18.5 billion approved by the Cabinet for a hotel project in 2012.
The Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne made this order in respect of three suspects Gamini Senarath, former Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation Managing Director Piyadasa Kudabalage and former Samurdhi Commissioner Neil Bandara Hapuwinna, when they surrendered to court, through their lawyers.
The Magistrate announced that she would make an appropriate order on the next inquiry date after inspecting both legal and incidental material relevant to the case.
Both Prosecution and defence parties were directed to file their written submissions, before today (14).
According to a B report filed before the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court, they have been accused of misusing government funds by illegally investing Rs.4 billion from the Rs.18.5 billion approved by the Cabinet in 2012.
The funds in question had been the allocation for the Kollupitiya Grand Hyatt Regency Hotel, to be constructed by Canwill Holdings Ltd, a company affiliated to the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, but had been invested in the Hambantota Hyatt Regency Hotel project.
The prosecution maintained that the Canwill Holdings Ltd is a state-owned public enterprise, set up during former regime, with Rs. 18.5 billion in equity, secured from its major shareholders, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, which has invested Rs. 8.5 billion, and Litro Gas and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) with Rs. 5 billion each.
President’s Counsel Ali Sabry, Anil Silva PC and Counsel Nalinda Indatissa appearing for the suspects argued that the suspects cannot be charged under Public Property Act citing that the Canwill Holdings is not a state institution.
‘Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation is a company registered under the Companies Act. Money were invested on a contract by several parties, including Canwill Holdings, EPF and Litro gas Lanka company. No offence has been disclosed against the suspects,’ Mr. Ali Sabry added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige ,appearing on behalf of the FCID, denied the claims made by defence that the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation is not a state institution. He stated that the company named Canwill Holdings had been formed by first suspect, in his personnel capacity and he is a shareholder of the company.
On November 9, the three suspects appeared before Court as per an undertaking given to the Supreme Court. However, at that time the defence counsel appearing on behalf of the suspects told Court that their clients were not surrendering to Court, but merely appearing for the purpose of making a statement to the FCID.
Senarath and two others had filed three Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court seeking an order preventing the FCID from arresting them n connection with a magisterial inquiry, under the Public Property Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
This petition is to be taken up for support on November 17.
President’s Counsel Ali Sabry with Anil Silva PC and Counsel Nalinda Indatissa appeared for the suspects. DSG Thusith Mudalige with Chief Inspector Anura Premaratne appeared for the FCID.