‘Mahendran threatened me to attach Saman Kumara to EPF front office’

CB Asst Governor tells Bond commission:

 

Central Bank Assistant Governor R. A. A. Jayalath yesterday told the presidential commission of inquiry probing bond scams that the then Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran had, on June 9, 2015, threatened him over the phone and asked him to attached Saman Kumara to the front office of the Central Bank EPF Department. Jayalath said he had, as the EPF Superintendent at that time, attached Saman Kumara to the Risk Management Division of the EPF Department the previous day.

Jayalath said he had done so because of the latter’s questionable track record which was brought to his notice by his officers at the EPF Department. Saman Kumara had worked in the EPF Department previously, Jayalath added.

Assistant Governor Jayalath said: “Saman Kumara was transferred to the EPF Department on June 08, 2015. It was my duty as the head of department to decide which division an officer should be attached to. Therefore, he was sent to the Risk Management Division. The following day, the Governor telephoned me and said, “I have transferred a CFA-qualified person to your department, but he informs me you have not attached him to the front office.” I was frustrated. I asked for one week.”

Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Milinda Gunatillake leading Jayalath’s evidence asked, “The Governor, in raising that question, took the responsibility for Saman Kumara’s transfer to the EPF Department, didn’t he?”

Jayalath: Yes.

Commission Chairman Justice Jayawardena: “You as the head of department had the authority to decide which division the officer concerned should be attached to. Why did you attach him to the front office?”

Jayalath: “Otherwise, I would have had to go.”

DSG Gunatillake: “Do you take the responsibility for having attached Saman Kumara to the front office?”

Jayalath: I can’t take the responsibility. Governor Mahendra must take the responsibility. “I did that against my wish.”

DSG Gunatillake: “Did Saman Kumara reach the Governor directly as a front office dealer?

Jayalath: “Yes. It was unethical.”

DSG Gunatillake asked Jayalath whether Saman Kumara had tried to impress on others that he was working closely with the Governor. Jayalath said he had that impression.

DSG Gunatillake asked Jayalath whether it had been difficult to control Saman Kumara. The latter answered in the affirmative.

Counsel Chanaka de Silva, appearing for former Governor Mahendran, said his client was not contactable because the latter had handed over his telephone to the commission. Claiming that he himself had failed to contract Mahendran, he asked whether his client could obtain a new SIM with a different number.

Justice Jayawardena said the commission could not prevent him from obtaining another SIM with a different number.

A team of new lawyers led by Anju Premaratne, yesterday informed the commission that they would represent Arjuna Aloysius. On July 26, Counsel Kalinga Indatissa informed the commission that he would no longer appear for Aloysius and some other lawyers would represent him (Aloysius). He, however, said he would appear for Perpetual Treasuries Holdings Pvt Ltd from that day onwards.

Counsel Premaratne brought to the notice of the commission that it was difficult for his client to engage in day-to-day activities without a telephone. He requested the commission to return the phone of Aloysius or grant permission for obtaining a new SIM with the same number.

Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Yasantha Kodagoda raised objections. He said that request should not be granted on any grounds. Aloysius had not submitted the iCloud password to the CID division attached to the commission, he said, adding that if the password was submitted, the SIM could be returned within 48 hours.

Counsel Premaratne said someone had tried to gain access to the iCloud account of Aloysius.

DSG Kodagoda demanded to know why the iCloud password couldn’t be submitted. Counsel Premaratne said he had to get instructions from his client in that regard.

Justice Jayawardena said Aloysius could obtain a new SIM with a different number. He observed smilingly that it was better not to receive calls from certain persons. He said a new SIM could be obtained and its number emailed to those who wanted to contact Aloysius.

The commission meets today at 10.00 am and Jayalath will resume giving evidence.

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