No issue with COPE members’ calls: Rajitha

Co-Cabinet Spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne today said that there was no issue with COPE members speaking to Arjun Aloysius, who was under investigation.

“It was COPE members who should speak to him. No one understands the issue regarding Bonds. Even I had to get it clarified by three well-known economists. So what is wrong with COPE members speaking to Aloysius for clarification?” he asked.

He said that the issue would arise only if a non- COPE member had dealings with Aloysius.

“It is more appropriate and justifiable if and when a member of the Parliamentary oversight committee COPE speaks to them,” he said.

The Minister was visibly annoyed when journalists questioned the Minister as to the dealings by former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, who was not a member of the COPE committee.

Journalists pointed out that the evidence revealed that Karunanayake and his family had spoken to Aloysius over 750 times despite his evidence at the Commission to the effect that he did not know Aloysius intimately.

“You go and ask that from Ravi Karunanayake. I am not his lawyer and he isn’t paying me a fee to represent him,” he said.

He then questioned the dealings between Journalists and Arjun Aloysius and Mahendran. Journalists pointed out that contact with Mahendran was in the capacity of Journalists.

He also found fault with the revealing of the details of the phone conversations during the testimony but insisted that he found nothing wrong with COPE members maintaining contact.

“That is why I say that the bond scam has to be investigated by a team of foreign experts who are highly knowledgeable on this subject. Otherwise, we all are groping in the dark on this issue and truth will hardly come out on what exactly happened. Besides, COPE is not a court of law and its objective is to find the truth. However, it is wrong if the COPE Chairman spoke to Arjuna. I spoke to a number of economic and bank experts and all of them were of the view that bond scam was extremely controversial and difficult issue to give a complete solution,” Minister Senaratne stressed.

Minister Senaratne said he was fully against the appointment of Arjuna Mahendran as the Central Bank Governor in 2005 and added a speedier and thorough court inquiry was necessary to go to the bottom of the bond scam and punish those involved.

Minister Senaratne said the PCoI has instructed the CID through the Attorney General’s Department only to obtain details of telephone conversations between Arjuna and certain MPs and not what they talked.

“The entire country has confidence in President Maithripala Sirisena will do the needful after the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) handed over its report on bond scam to him on December 8. The legal process that will follow the recommendations of the PCoI will be fast and transparent,’ Minister Senaratne said.

Minister Senaratne said no one could correctly pinpoint the size of the loss if any of the bond scam. That is why some say the loss could reach Rs. 1 trillion. Do they exactly know what a trillion means? he asked.

Minister asked journalists as to why they never questioned what the friendship Arjuna had with MPS LIKE Namal Rajapaksa and who helped Rajapaksa family to deposit millions of dollars in Dubai bank accounts during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.

Minister Senaratne reiterated his displeasure over the slow progress of legal action against big sharks of financial and other crimes of the previous regime and added 17 files of major criminal acts are gathering dust at the AG’s Department and only three big cases of corruptions have been referred to the Bribery Commission for legal action.

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