By Himal Kotelawala
Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the controversial bond issuance yesterday, a CID official said that former Director of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. (PTL) Arjun Aloysius had telephoned several members of the second Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) investigating the matter during the period of its tenure in 2016.
According to a report submitted by Sub Inspector Yasanka Jayasinghe attached to the Technical Aid Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), 62 calls had taken place between the mobile phones registered to Aloysius and UNP Parliamentarian Sujeewa Senasinghe. Responding to questions by Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda, Jayasinghe said that 36 of those calls were from Aloysius’s phone to Senasinghe’s. The UNP MP was appointed to the COPE chaired by JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti on 7 July 2016.
The breakdown of calls between Aloysius and other COPE members, according to Jayasinghe’s testimony, are as follows:
Sujeewa Senasinghe – 62 calls
Dayasiri Jayasekara – 2 calls
Ajith P. Perera – 2 calls
Hector Appuhamy – 23 calls
Harshana Rajakaruna – 23 calls
According to Jayasinghe, no calls or messages had been exchanged between Aloysius and notable COPE members such as JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti, JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake and UNP MPs Dr. Harsha De Silva, Ranjan Ramanayake, et al.
In his testimony, Jayasinghe said that between 1 February 2015 and 31 July 2016, 84 calls had taken place between Aloysius and former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake. Responding to ASG Kodagoda, he said this was out of a total of 387 calls that had taken place from 5 February 2015 to 20 June 2017 between the two parties.
A further 320 calls he said had been exchanged by Aloysius and the Minister’s wife Mela Karunanayake, in addition to 18 calls and five calls with his daughters Onella and Shanella Karunanayake respectively.
In his rather extensive report, titled ‘Forensic Report on Communication Information Analysis’ and containing information provided by telecommunication service providers and data extracted from the mobile phones of individuals of interest, Jayasinghe had detailed a series of call logs between Aloysius and former Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran as well as several other key players in the bond saga.
Counsel for Mahendran Attorney-at-Law Chanaka De Silva objected to the commission marking the document as evidence on grounds that the information provided by the service providers had itself not been marked, but the Commission noted that the value of the information, as opposed to its admissibility, will be decided when submitting its final report. De Silva was given a week’s time to submit in writing why the CID’s report is, according to him, may be of no value.
Telephone activity by Mahendran over a period of 880 days, from 23 January 2015 to 20 June 2017, had been considered by the CID, though call logs had only been available for 644 days. Given the relationship between Mahendran and his son-in-law Aloysius, general communication between the two was not considered, said Jayasinghe.
On 27 February 2015, the day of the first bond auction, one outgoing call from Mahendran to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was recorded in the call logs of one-second duration, followed by a 92-second call taken just over a minute later at 12.39 p.m.
Commissioner Justice Prasanna Jayawardena at this point noted that the Prime Minister had made it clear in his affidavit submitted to the commission that he did, in fact, receive a call from Mahendran informing him that Rs. 10.05 billion had been raised at the auction.
According to Jayasinghe’s report, two incoming calls from the Prime Minister had taken place at 4.35 p.m. and 6.35 p.m. that day.
In addition to these, there had been four texts from Dr. Harsha De Silva, seven texts from one Primus Cheng of Prima Singapore, a call from Bank of Ceylon Chairman Ronald Perera (at 10.18 a.m.), an incoming call from Deputy Governor P. Samarasiri, Ministers Sagala Ratnayake (at 3.19 p.m.) and Ravi Karunanayake (4.22 p.m.).
During this period of 23 January 2015 to 20 June 2017, 27 calls had taken place between Mahendran and Perpetual Treasuries CEO Kasun Palisena, seven of which had been while the former was still Governor of CBSL. Fifteen of the calls had been from Mahendran to Palisena, and eight had taken place between 6.00 p.m. and 8.00 a.m. Responding to questions by ASG Kodagoda, SI Jayasinghe said (and had also noted in remarks on the report) that several of the calls had taken place on dates relevant to the investigation.
Mahendran and Palisena had exchanged seven text messages from 01 February 2015 to 20 June 2017. One text sent on 15 May 2016 read ‘Arjuna mahendranhotmail’ Three of these texts, said Jayasinghe, had been sent on significant dates (for example, 4 April 2016, the date of an IFL settlement penalty).
It transpired that Mahendran had made zero contact with CEOs of other standalone primary dealers.
A total of 30 calls had taken place between the phones of Mahendran and Indika Saman Kumara. From 3 November 2013 to 7 June 2015, Saman Kumara was a Senior Manager of the Public Debt Department of CBSL. Seven out of the 30 calls had been during this period, and 16 calls had taken place when he was Assistant Superintendent of the Employees’ Trust Fund (EPF).
A further seven calls were made when he worked in the Facilities Management Department of CBSL (1 January 2017 onward), and 11 calls since Mahendran ceased to be Governor.
A total of 12 texts had been exchanged between the two from 3 February 2016, five of them while Mahendran was Governor. No calls had taken place between Mahendran and Sangarapillai Pathumanathan while the latter was at the EPF but 19 calls and four texts had been exchanged since he joined the PDD. According to SI Jayasinghe, Mahendran had also called 15 times to other PTL employees, including a driver.
From 1-4 April 2016, Mahendran had received a 199-second call from Palisena and an 88-second call from Pathumanathan.
On 28 March 2016, the day Minister Karunanayake is said to have chaired a meeting with chairmen of the three state banks, Mahendran’s phone had received 63 calls from Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister R. Paskaralingam, and 186 calls from an identified source from the Ministry of Finance. There had also been calls to and from the three chairmen.
Aloysius’ call records showed that he had he had exchanged 38 calls and one text with Saman Kumara, in addition to 448 Viber calls from 23 October 2016 to 26 January 2017.
272 of these calls had been from Aloysius to Saman Kumara, with 63 of the total calls identified as unsuccessful. Some 131 calls had been made between 8pm and 8am.
According to Jayasinghe, 18 calls had taken place between Aloysius and one Thakshila Kumari, said to be Saman Kumara’s partner, saved on Aloysius’ phone as ‘Thakshala. Saman’, 30 Viber calls had been made between the two parties from 8 March 2017 to 4 July 2017, 20 of which had been made from 8.00 p.m. to 8.00 a.m. However, the subinspector conceded that there was no way to verify who would have been on the other end of the phone.
Kumara’s brother Badugoda Hewa Amal Eroshan, saved on Aloysius’ phone as ‘Amal. Perpetual’ also figured in the testimony. There were 69 calls logged between Eroshan and Aloysius, in addition to 27 texts, 11 Viber calls from 27 January 2017 to 26 May 2017 and 163 WhatsApp calls (33 unsuccessful).
From 5 February 2015 to 5 May 2015 and 6 November 2015 to 22 November 2017, Aloysius and S. Pathumanathan, saved on his phone as ‘Pat Man,’ had exchanged 61 calls, 33 of which had been from 8.00 p.m. to 8.00 a.m. Some 53 of those calls had been while Pathumanathan was at the PDD, and eight while he was at the EPF. A 271-second call was logged on 24 November 2015, the day of the Monetary Policy Review.
From 23 October 2016 onwards, a total of 703 calls had taken place between Aloysius and Pathumanathan, according to Jayasinghe’s findings. All of these calls, he said, had taken place while Pathumanathan was at the PDD, with not one single call logged after 24 January 2017.
A total of 202 calls had been made between 8.00 p.m. and 8.00 a.m.
Thirty-six calls had been made to Pathumanathan’s brother Sangarapillai Ayngaram, in addition to four texts and 753 Viber calls, 396 of which had been made from 8.00 p.m. to 8.00 a.m., said Jayasinghe.
National Savings Bank Chief Dealer Naveen Anuradha had been contacted five times, in addition to 189 Viber calls.
An iMessage received by Aloysius from PTL Director Sanjeewa Fernando on 02 June 2017 at 1.30pm read: ‘What is the amount to Thakshila. She wants to know the amount.”
The PTL CEO had been on the phone with Saman Kumara a total of 38 times and 14 times with the latter’s brother Eroshan, according to SI Jayasinghe’s findings.
Palisena, he said, had also spoken at length to Tyrell Goonatillake of the EPF, one 90-minute call on 6 Mary 2015, a Saturday, and another 57-minute call on the same day.
ASG Kodagoda noted that this was the day after the first ever sale to the EPF by PTL.
The former EPF Assistant Superindent had made 38 calls to Aloysius and 448 Viber calls. He had also exchanged calls with a number that according to Jayasinghe is registered to Aloysius’ wife Anjalie Mahendran. Twenty-seven calls to PTL Director Sanjeewa Fernando, 23 texts with PTL Chief Dealer Nuwan Salgado, 75 calls with driver Maxell Jaksa were also logged. Eleven of the calls to the driver had been from 8.00 p.m. to 12.00 a.m. according to Jayasinghe.
According to SI Jayasinghe, the number identified as belonging to Pathumanathan had been on the phone 67 times with driver known as Jaksa. Calls had also allegedly been exchanged with Anjalie Mahendran, 24 of which had been outgoing calls, and nine between 8.00 p.m. and 8.00 a.m.
The commission will reconvene on Monday, with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe expected to appear to provide clarifications on some matters pertaining to the inquiry, if the Commission deems it necessary. Wickremesinghe has already submitted an affidavit in response to a questionnaire submitted to him by the commission, and the commission as of yesterday was awaiting a second affidavit in response to further questions it considers relevant.