Minister Ravi Karunanayake testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate and inquire into the issuance of Treasury Bonds, for nearly five hours today (02) during which he was questioned regarding a luxury penthouse allegedly used by him in Colombo.
Before commencing his testimony, the minister informed the commission that the future of his political career is presently at risk due to the manner in which the media had reported on him.
Commencing the questioning afterwards, the Senior Additional Solicitor General Dappula de Livera inquired from the minister regarding his current address.
Karunanayake, the former Finance Minister and present Foreign Minister, presented the address of a luxury apartment complex in Colombo and stated that he is presently residing there.
The minister was then questioned regarding his relationship with Arjun Aloysius of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd, to which he responded by saying that although he knew Mr Aloysius due to the connection between their two families it was not a close friendship or association.
However, the minister was then questioned based a report containing the call logs of Arjun Aloysius’ mobile phone, which is in the custody of the commission. Amongst those data, attention was drawn towards the text messages sent and received by the phone.
The Attorney General’s department pointed out that Mr Aloysius had forwarded several text messages he had received regarding certain market transactions to a contact listed on the phone as ‘RK’ on multiple occasions.
The minister stated that he does not know anything about these text messages and that he has no idea as to who the name ‘RK’ is referring to.
The AG’s department then submitted a report regarding the foreign visits made by Arjun Aloysius and Ravi Karunanayake and pointed out that the two of them have visited Singapore during the same time periods on 13 separate occasions.
In response to this, Karunanayake stated that as a minister he has to travel to various countries and that apart from two or three occasions, he has not met with Arjun Aloysius in Singapore.
However, the AG’s department pointed out that Mr Aloysius and the minister had traveled on the same plane on one occasion.
The minister was then inquired as to whether his wife inspected a luxury penthouse in Colombo with Arjun Aloysius in 2016 with the intention of renting it. Karunanayake, in response, stated that his wife had inspected the location in question and that, however Mr Aloysius did not participate in this.
The commission subsequently asked the minister whether he did not know that a company headed by Mr Aloysius had paid a sum of Rs 1.45 million as monthly rent for the luxury apartment which the minister had moved into in 2016.
The minister stated that he was not aware of this at the time and that he inquired from his family members regarding this following a questioned raised in parliament by MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage in 2016.
The minister stated that he later found out that the place was rented out though another party as its owner Anika Wijesuriya did not want to rent it to a politician. However, during a testimony previously provided to the commission, Anka Wijesuriya had stated that she had no issues with directly renting it to Ravi Karunanayake.
Commission member Supreme Court judge Prasanna Jayawardena then inquired as to whether the witness is telling the commission to accept the statement that he was not aware of the fact that the rent for the house was paid by Arjun Aloysius.
The minister stated that he is only speaking the truth to the commission and that he even has the relevant receipts to prove that his family members had paid back that money to Mr Aloysius.
When asked how a large sum of money such as Rs 1.45 million was obtained to make the payment, he said that his wife and daughter are engaged in various business ventures and that therefore the payment was made by them.