As the inadequacy of liquid cash continued to impede moves to repay Golden Key depositors, the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Chartered Accountants summoned Ceylinco Chairman Lalith Kotelawala and other directors for a discussion focusing largely on a more proactive role they should play to resolve this long-drawn crisis.
Kotelawala and the Directors/CEOs of Golden Key and its subsidiary companies were specifically told during the two-hour meeting at the Central Bank on Tuesday (April 6) that `they cannot relax and take it easy` while the Committee struggled to raise funds to settle investors who have been denied their capital plus interest for the past 15 months, officials said.
`The directors were asked to support and cooperate in ongoing attempts to ease the burden of depositors as the liability at hand, minus the outstanding interest component, since this Ceylinco subsidiary crashed in December 2008, stood at an enormous 26 billion rupees`, they said.
Kotelawala and other directors have been released on bail by the Supreme Court, but it has still not been possible to raise even 900 million rupees to pay back investors, they pointed out.
At the meeting, Prof. Lakshman R. Watawala, the Chairman of the three-member Committee had asked each representative to outline the status of their respective companies whether they are still in operation or not, and their assets and liabilities, officials said.
The Committee had admonished two directors who had failed to adhere to the deadline to submit proposals, as directed earlier, on their respective companies, and pointed out that the task of repaying depositors has been entrusted to the Committee by the Supreme Court. The progress made should therefore be placed before court.
Prof. Watawala had also questioned the absence of Kavan Perera, who, as Deputy Chairman/CEO of Golden Key, guided the company s overall operations.
When told there was no response from the telephone numbers he had forwarded earlier, a directive was made to locate his new contact numbers and keep him informed of the next meeting. Two other Golden Key directors, Ms. Padma Nandani Kumar and Neranjan Fernando were also absent.
Officials described Kotelawala s mood as `cheerful`. He was heard commenting after the discussion that summoning all directors under one roof was more productive than individual meetings.
The transfer of Kotelawala s shareholdings in diverse companies to a special purpose vehicle is also being pursued by the Committee in consultation with the Attorney General s Department, a senior official said.
`We are now concentrating on these shares, some Ceylinco condominium properties and a teak plantation owned by Golden Key as part of ongoing efforts to raise more funds to settle depositors`, he explained.
Disposing of most Golden Key assets is complicated as they are encumbered, he pointed out. `There are a large proportion of mortgages and loans on the company s properties and assets that it s a knotty issue`.
He said that Golden Key s accounts had not been audited for 15 years and transparency and good corporate governance unheard of. A simple audit would have indicated the gaping hole in the balance sheet.
`That s why nobody knows the fate of 26 billion rupees in deposits`, he noted. `Apart from such an enormous quantum of cash mobilised from the public, even most of the company s properties and assets had been mortgaged to raise more funds`.
`Surely, all this money couldn t have gone up in smoke`, he pointed out. `Now, it is a battle for us to raise funds to repay depositors`.
`Not only the assets of Kotelawala, but even those of other directors are liable to be seized and sold under the law`, says Dushanthi Hapugoda, Vice President, Golden Key Depressed Depositors Association.
There are two families of Golden Key depositors living in anguish in bus stands in Kandy after being denied their life-long deposits, she asserted. `But, the directors still live in the lap of luxury`.
Even 15 months after, indictments against Kotelawala and other directors have still not been filed by the authorities, she complained. `The inordinate delay in bringing them before the law is unacceptable`.
Urging the government to take over Seylan Bank even by promulgating new legislation, Ms. Hapugoda said the shareholdings of Kotelawala could then be easily transferred to honour the financial commitments of depositors.
Meanwhile, the International Police (INTERPOL) have listed in its website Mrs. Sicille Priya Carmini Kotelawala as a fugitive wanted for fraud by the Sri Lankan police.
A Red Notice, which seeks the arrest or provisional arrest of wanted persons for extradition, has been issued by INTERPOL against Mrs. Kotelawala, who is described in the website as a `Sri Lankan who speaks English and Sinhalese, born in Colombo 5 on January 21, 1942 (68 years old).`
A judicial arrest warrant has been issued against her by the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate s Court in connection with the 26 billion rupee Golden Key scandal.
The Sunday Island learns that the INTERPOL branch in Singapore has confirmed that Sicille had entered the country and obtained treatment from a medical facility there.
There is no record of her leaving Singapore which means she is still in the country but cannot be traced, according to an INTERPOL message transmitted to Colombo.