The Bond Commission today observed that the personal Assistant of Arjun Aloysius, Steve Samuel was lying before the Commission and said that in the event they found him to be doing so “appropriate action would be taken against him”.
Justice Prasanna Jayawardena made this remark after Samuel repeatedly denied any knowledge of the contents of the text messages sent by him which referred to RK, AM, Arjun M, Ravi K, Hon PM, A Mahendran and Ravi Karunanayake.
“No I don’t know” he said each time he was questioned on the text messages by Dr. Avanthi Perera Senior State Counsel.
At the end of the evidence Justice Jayawardena sarcastically said: “ We would like to have him (Samuel ) educate us on how to forget things. You know it’s a remarkable skill”
At the onset of the yesterday’s proceedings, Arjun Aloysius’ personal assistant, Steve Samuel testified before the Commission regarding several text messages and e-mails which were extracted from Aloysius’ phone by the CID.
These text messages and e-mails had been sent by Steve Samuel to his boss, Aloysius.
According to the witness, Samuel had joined Perpetual Capital Holdings in November 2016 and had served as the personal assistant of Arjun Aloysius and thereafter Geoffrey Aloysius.
Senior State Counsel Dr. Avanti Perera questioned the witness showing several text messages and emails.
Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: These text messages were sent by you, right?
Witness Steve Samuel: I cannot recall exactly.
Then the senior state counsel read the first text message.
Witness: Yes, that was a text message sent by me to Aloysius.
Text message 1 (Serial number 8309) – Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 28, 2016
|“Reminder to request Hon PM and RK to get a copy of the monetary board meeting/papers need to be submitted today 28…”|
Senior State Counsel Dr. Avanti Perera: This message was sent by you, right?
Witness: I cannot recall exactly. But I think I got a call from the general line that day and I was asked to send this message.
Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: Who called you through the general line?
Witness: I cannot recall that exactly at this moment.
Justice Jayawardena: Was it Arjun Aloysius or anybody else?
W: I don’t know. Honestly I cannot remember.
At this moment, when Counsel Chanaka de Silva asked the Commission whether the date of the text message was relevant with the proceedings, Justice Jayawardena said “This was the date on which some event happened”.
Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda at this moment said “the day was relating to Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. And that was the day that regulatory decisions had been taken against PTL by the CBSL.”
At this moment the witness said that he had no clue whatsoever regarding the company activities of the PTL and he just noted down things only that were asked to be done by Aloysius.
Justice Jayawardena replying said that nobody would blame him doing his job as the personal assistant of Aloysius and the Commission only requires him to answer the questions precisely.
Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: Do you understand what the abbreviation “Hon PM” stands for?
Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: If I suggest to you that it was the Prime Minister, would you accept that?
W: I cannot accept that because I didn’t know what that meant, so, I cannot comment on that.
Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: Would you know what abbreviation ‘RK’ stood for?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, your position is you received instructions through the general phone line and you noted them down and sent back to Aloysius, right?
Text message 2 (Serial number 9039) – Samuel to Aloysius- Date : December 1, 2016
|“GM Chairman, hope you had a very good meeting with ‘RK’, just update when you and I can meet before you leave tonight…|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now, in this text message you have mentioned “hope you had a very good meeting with RK”. Is it your position still that you don’t know who ‘RK’ is?
W: No. I don’t know
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Could you explain why you would say ‘hope you had a good meeting’?
W: That is the normal way I asked as the personal assistant
Justice Jayawardena: obviously, you would have known that Aloysius was having a meeting with Mr. RK or Mrs RK, right?
W: I don’t know whether it was Mr. or Mrs.
Justice Jayawardena: As a primary dealer, Aloysius would have dealt with the Ministry of Finance regularly, right?
W: That I don’t know. He doesn’t tell me about his meetings. And I have never gone to his meetings.
Justice Jayawardena: So, in any event you knew that Aloysius had a meeting with some RK, right?
J: Who could be that significant ‘RK’?
W: That I don’t know
Text message 3 (Serial number 6364) –Aloysius to Samuel- Date :
|“Steve please remind me to talk to ‘RK’ on two matters when I meet him tomorrow
1. PPP units set up
2. Two meetings with PM tomorrow at 4 with US treasurer”
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who ‘RK’ is?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who ‘PM’ is?
Justice Jayawardena: PPP stands for Public Private Partnerships, was that correct?
Witness in a hesitant manner said that he doesn’t know.
Justice Jayawardena: This text message says about a meeting with US treasurer. So, who would meet US Treasurer?
W: I don’t know I was not in this country before I joined the job. (He said he was a cabin crew staff employee of an airline in the Middle East for 25 years)
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: In your statement given to the police at the Commission’s premises you have responded to a question as to who was ‘PM’ and ‘RK.’ You had said that ‘I’m not sure but perhaps it could be the Hon. Prime Minister’, so now would you accept that it was Prime Minister?
W: I can’t accept it. That is why I had said ‘perhaps’, because I don’t know. Nobody told me that PM is Hon. Prime Minister.
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Anyway, would you accept that ‘RK’ and ‘PM’ are persons with whom Aloyius had contacts?
W: Because as per my messages it looks so (in a hesitant manner told).
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Who else would stand for ‘PM’ in your opinion?
W: I would not know. I just noted abbreviations pointed out by Aloysius.
At this point perusing the forensic extraction document Justice Prasanna Jayawardena in a sarcastic manner added amusement to the query asking the witness “Who is this Rohitha Abeygoonawardena? Who would that be? RA?
Text message 4 and an E-mail correspondence (Serial number 4050) –Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 6, 2016
|Reminder: follow up meeting with Ravi Karunanayake at 9 a.m.|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: What are the initials of that person in this text message?
Witness was silent and perusing the document the State Counsel again asked
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: What are the two letters in that name?
Witness was not answering
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Was that RK, right?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now looking at this message would you be able to refer RK to the same person as Ravi Karunanayake?
W: I cannot acknowledge that because how would I know. I was given only abbreviations as ‘RK’ but here it was told to me as Ravi Karunanayake so I mentioned it
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now, here Aloysius was going to have a follow up meeting with Ravi Karunanayake, so it was a follow up meeting, right? There would have been a meeting before that, right?
W: He has told me to give a reminder about a follow up meeting which I did
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who Ravi Karunanayake is in this country?
W: At the moment yes. He was the former Finance Minister.
Two text messages 5 & 6 (Serial numbers 4020 and 4023) –Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 8, 2016
|Serial numbers 4020
Reminder: Next meeting at 7 a.m. with ‘Ravi K’
|Serial numbers 4023 (same text)
Reminder: Next meeting at 7 a.m. with ‘Ravi K’
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: These messages were sent by you, right?
Text message 7 –Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 9, 2016
|Ravi K tonight…|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Is this message correct?
Text message 8 (Serial number 3842)–Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 17, 2016
|Reminder a meeting with RK at 7.30 pm|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now it appears that Arjun Aloysius had met RK or Ravi Karunanayake whoever that may be, on several times in November 2016, is that correct?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know what those meetings were about?
Text message 9 (Serial number 3769)–Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 22, 2016
Reminder: I do have it on my notes for today RK/ TO DO LIST
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you have any idea what this list was?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who constructed the RK list?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, it was not by you?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: If that list was not prepared by you, then it appears that this already existed before you came into employment at PTL, is that correct?
W: That I cannot comment
Text message 10 (Serial number 3766)–Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 22, 2016
We have the ‘A Mahendran’ to do list
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who this ‘A Mahendran’ was?
W: Anjali Mahendran (daughter of Arjuna Mahendran and the wife of Aloysius)
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: You are very sure about that, right?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, in this case you are very familiar with the abbreviation as opposed to ‘RK’, right?
W: I know Anjali Mahendran
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: But this says ‘A Mahendran’?
W: I call her A Mahendran
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So you call her face to face A Mahendran was it?
W: No. I meant when I note it down
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: And would that be the only person that you would write in abbreviation as ‘A Mahendran’?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, since you are very familiar with this Anjali Mahendran, what is this ‘to do list to Anjali Mahendran’?
At this point President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne objected to the question and said that was something relating to his client’s wife.
The Commission also emphasized that it has nothing to do with the matters relating to Aloysius and his wife.
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know the name of Anjali Mahendran’s father?
W: Arjuna Mahendran
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, could it not be him?
W: I don’t know because I don’t do any correspondence for Arjuna Mahendran
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: That is so, but this appears to be a file you are reminding Arjun Aloysius about? Anyway we will come to that.
Text message 11 (Serial number 3754)–Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 22, 2016
Chairman, awaiting an update on today ‘to do list for Arjuna M’ and ‘RK’
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now, this text message says ‘Arjuna M’, In this case who would be ‘Arjuna M’?
W: I don’t know
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Didn’t you just say that you are aware of the father of Anjali Mahendran is Arjuna Mahendran?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, would this not be reference to Arjun Mahendran?
W: This just says ‘Arjuna M’ so I cannot admit that it was Arjuna Mahendran
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, when it was A Mahendran you are familiar that it was Anjali Mahendran but when it was ‘Arjuna M’ you do not know who that was, is that your position?
Text message 12 Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 22, 2016
Legal letter to be delivered to Hon. PM’s office
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Again is that your position that you don’t know who ‘Hon. PM’ is?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you what ‘Hon.’ Stands for in the abbreviation?
W: Not clearly
Justice Jayawardena: Now, you have worked with Aloysius for the last few years, right? Other than the time period you were in hospital, you would have worked with Aloysius, right?
Justice Jayawardena: You would have been talking with him on what things to done for him as well, right?
Justice Jayawardena: And you would have also told him that you were summoned to give evidence as well, right?
Justice Jayawardena: And he knew that you were coming to give evidence and we were told that you were here through PTL, right?
Text message 13 (Serial number 3139) Samuel to Aloysius- Date : January 3, 2017
|Meeting at 10 p.m. with ‘RK’/new to do list file and ‘AM to do list file’ will be sent home|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Is this Aloysius’ home you are referring to?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Would that be around Flower Road?
Text message 13 (Serial number 3125) Samuel to Aloysius- Date : January 3, 2017
|I’m just leaving office and going to your flower road residence to deliver both ‘AM’ and ‘RK’ files and try to catch ‘Dilshad’ at the Ministry|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Who is ‘Dilshad’ at the Ministry whom you were trying to catch?
W: Friend of mine and he was in the Ministry of Finance
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know what the designation of him is?
W: He was an assistant
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Whose?
W: Not sure. But he was at the Finance Ministry
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: And the Finance Minister at that time was Ravi Karunanayake, right?
Text message 14 (Serial number 3082) Aloysius to Samuel- Date : January 4, 2017
|Did you by any chance managed to locate the old RK file|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, it appears to be an old file, right?
W: It appears to be. But I have not been exposed to these files.
Text message 15 (Serial number 3123) Samuel to Aloysius- Date : January 4, 2017
|Just saw you at Ministry dashing into the elevator have a great meeting|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, would that be again at the Ministry of Finance?
Witness was silent
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Because you referred ‘Dilshad’ at the Ministry.
W: Could be the Finance Ministry
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now you say ‘just saw you’, would that be Aloysius?
W: I’m not sure
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: You say ‘Have a great meeting’, so do you know what that meeting was about?
Text message 16 (Serial number 3111) Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
Good luck with the RK meeting and I hope Mr. Arjuna has a good meeting in this evening……I saw Governor Coomaraswami at the Ministry waiting for the meeting with RK then I saw Arjuna getting into lift….
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Who is this Arjuna?
W: I don’t know
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: You say ‘good meeting’
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now who is this Lasantha (his name transpired earlier and was a Personal Assistant at the Finance Ministry)?
W: I don’t know
Justice Jayawardena: Now, all these texts are from your phone, right?
Justice Jayawardena: You have no doubt about that, right?
W: I cannot recall them exactly
Justice Jayawardena: These are extracted from your phone, so at the time you sent these messages you knew what you were talking about, right?
Text message 17 (Serial number) Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
|As per ‘Dilshad’ there is no London trip scheduled anywhere|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Whose schedule are you referring?
Witness was silent
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Could that be the Minister of Finance?
W: Not sure
At this moment Justice Jayawardena asked Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda to put the relevant text messages to the witness as he had admitted that he had sent them.
“Now witness admits that he had originated the text messages and sent them to Aloysius, so are we to now blindly accept the fact that he had sent them without knowing the meaning of the content”, ASG Kodagoda asked.
Justice Jayawardena: It is very clear to us exactly who he was talking about.
ASG Kodagoda: And he is lying under oath.
Justice Jayawardena: We will take the appropriate steps on that.
ASG Kodagoda: If the commission is so aware of the fact that he is misleading the Commission, then it would be fine.
Justice Jayawardena: It is very clear.
ASG Kodagoda: That, he is lying.
Justice Jayawardena: That we cannot say now, because that would accuse us for prejudging, but his evidence is very clear.
Justice Jayawardena then questioned the witness again and asked whether he knew at the time he was sending these messages about the content and the people he was referring to. The witness’ answer was affirmative. The witness also said that he cannot recall them at the moment.
Text message 18 (Serial number 3130) Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
|Meeting with Saman Indika Kumara at 5.30 p.m.|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who Saman Indika Kumara was? (former EPF dealer who was interdicted later)
Justice Jayawardena: Now, Saman Kumara’s name transpired eight or nine times in these text messages, surely you would know who he was?
Justice Jayawardena: Haven’t you read the news papers recently?
W: Not really
Justice Jayawardena: You don’t read newspapers?
Justice Jayawardena: Are you aware that Saman Kumara was working at EPF?
Justice Jayawardena: Be aware that you are giving evidence under oath and be cautious of the fact that if you lied under oath and if we found that we will take appropriate actions.
W: I’m not lying
Text message 19 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
|Saman is already in the office to meet with you at 3.30 p.m|
Justice K.T. Chitrasiri: But anyway this text message shows that a person called Saman Kumara had come to visit Aloysius but you don’t know him?
Text message 20 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
Reminder: 5.30 P.M. a meeting with AM and ‘Lasantha’ at flower road residency
Text message 21 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January 6
|A meeting with Saman Kumara|
At this moment after perusing the extraction further, Justice Jayawardena asked the witness: Who is this Ravi Karunamurthi?
W: Don’t know
Justice Jayawardena: He also had met Arjun Aloysius many times, was he a primary dealer?
W: I don’t know
Justice Jayawardena: Who is Chanuka Ratwatte, who had met with Aloysius many times? Was he the man who owns the ‘Entrust’ (Primary Dealer)
W: I don’t know
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: In summary, on several times in January 2017, former EPF dealer Saman Kumara had been scheduled to meet Aloysius, right?
Witness didn’t answer.
Text message 21 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January 6
|Update- Saman Kumara stated you need him to speak with chairman of lotteries board asked if you would be making the meeting or ….|
Justice K.T. Chitrasiri: Now this says that Saman Kumara stated, so stated to whom? He spoke to you, right?
Justice Jayawardena: Who was Saman Kumara?
W: I don’t know (Justices smiled in a sarcastic manner)
Text message 22 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
|Important meeting with Naveen|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who Naveen is?
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Have you ever heard of a person called Naveen Anuradha (NSB dealer)?
E-mail correspondence – Samuel to Aloysius 2017 March 29
|Subject: Meeting boss/RK/reminder/proposed auction for the week|
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: What is this proposed auction?
W: I don’t know
SSC Dr Avanti Perera was of the view that there was a Treasury-bill auction on March 29 and a treasury-bond auction on April 4, 2017.
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Finally, do you not say that Aloysius had meetings and exchanges of documents relating to business transactions of PTL with the person by the name of ‘RK’, ‘Hon PM’, ‘AM’, broader reference to those names would be Ravi Karunanayake, Prime Minster and Arjuna Mahendran also appears in these text messages including dealers like Saman Indika Kumara, right?
W: I can’t admit that because I don’t know the PTL’s trading deals
SSC Dr Avanti Perera: But you arranged these meetings
W: That was my job
Justice Jayawardena: You wrote these text messages on instructions of Aloysius and other people regarding the meetings and other activities of Arjun Aloysius, where he meets RK, AM, PM, right?
J: So, There is no reason to believe such things did not happen, right?
J: At any point did Aloysius dispute that these meetings were rubbish?
J: Who maintained the RK and AM files?
W: I don’t know
J: Definitely that is within the knowledge of Arjun Aloysius, right?
W: Yes probably
J: Therefore, Arjun Aloysius maintained files under RK and AM
At this point Dr Avanti Perera pointing another text message showed to the Commission to verify the fact that the witness was lying.
|Samuel to Aloysius
Saman Kumara could not contacted so a message copied to Amal’s phone too
SSC Dr Avanti Perera told the Commission at this point that Amal is the brother of Saman Kumara.
After the questioning of the Attorney General’s Department concluded, Counsel Chanaka de Silva who appeared on behalf of Arjuna Mahendran drew the attention of the Commission to text messages in the extracted report reflecting about a meeting that had been taken place with Arjun Aloysius and current Governor Coomaraswami as well.
Counsel Jeewantha Jayatilleke, who was appearing on behalf of Steve Samuel, then moved to explain the current situation of the witness as Samuel’s mother had been admitted to Durdens Hospital over a minor stroke.
At this moment, when he was questioned by his counsel about his mother, Steve Samuel broke down into sobs while sitting in the witness dock. Samuel said that he is the only person who is there to take care of his family as his brother is handicapped.
Samuel pleaded that he was unaware about the names that transpired in the text messages as he had only done what he was asked to do.
He also said that he had not maintained any of files on behalf of PTL hence there was no file in the custody of him at the moment.
After the conclusion of the evidence of Steve Samuel, while he was getting off from the witness dock, Justice Prasanna Jayawardena in a sarcastic manner quipped to Samuel’s Counsel “Bring him (Samuel) here one day to educate us also on how to forget things, it’s a remarkable talent”