CEO’s evasive answers irk commission

Some 24 discrepancies in PTL documents:

When the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing alleged bond scam resumed its sittings yesterday Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Milinda Gunatillake told the Commission that 24 discrepancies had been found in the documents submitted to the Commission by Perpetual Treasuries Ltd seeking to counter the submissions made by the Central Bank.

Gunatillake further told the Commission that it was difficult to question Perpetual Treasuries CEO Kasun Palisena under such circumstances.

At this juncture Chairman of the Commission Justice K.T. Chitrasiri questioned attorney-at law representing Perpetual Treasuries, Romali Tudawe, and she apologised for the lapse.

Tudawe requested the Commission to grant her client time to correct the mistakes. Commission Chairman turned down her request, pointing out that the company had been given two weeks to submit the correct documents.

Justice Chitrasiri told DSG Gunatillake to question Palisena on the discrepancies in the documents submitted by Perpetual Treasuries.

Justice Chatrasiri rhetorically asked Kasun Palisena how the commission could continue its proceedings when there were discrepancies in the documents submitted by Perpetual Treasuries. The latter maintained silence.

The Commission Chairman said he took Palisena’s silence as ‘no answer’ and asked senior State Counsel Shahida Bari to question Palisena.

Senior State Counsel Shahida Bari questioned Palisena and demolished with documentary evidence arguments put forth by the latter.

Asked by the Senior State Counsel whether Perpetual Treasuries had made bids at higher interest rates, Palisena said the rates were close to the market interest rates. The Central Bank had asked Palisena whether his company 30-year bonds and given 9.35 pecent as an indicative rate when the latter made inquiries. Shaida Bari pointed out that Palisena had made the starting bid at 11.5 percent, which was very high. Palisena admitted that it was so.

Asked by the Senor State Counsel whether following the bond transaction of Feb. 27, 2015, the interests had sharply increased, Palisena said the interest rates had been corrected. When he was asked in which direction the correction had been effected, Plisena said, “Upward direction up to 11.73 percent.”

Counsel Bari asked whether there wouldn’t have been a dramatic upward correction of interests if the Central Bank had accepted all the bids made by Perpetual Treasures to the tune of Rs. 15 billion. Palisena said the interest rate would have risen to about 12.2 percent in such an eventuality with the additional Rs. 5 billion pushing the interest rates by 50 basis points. Palisena said it wouldn’t have been a drastic increase.

Asked by the Senior State Counsel whether the entire interest rate structure had received a significant shock following Feb. 27, 2015 bond auction and what would have been interest rates, Palisena said they would have been where they should be.


Commission Chairman Justice Chitrasiri said that if the witness was giving evasive answers they must be recorded verbatim.

Nihal Fernando, appearing for Perpetual Treasuries, while being seated, remarked smilingly, “My learned friend is asking very long questions.” Senior State Counsel Bari quipped that she had learned from Fernando.

The commission will meet again tomorrow at 10.00 am with Palisena testifying.


Water cut at bond commission

The presidential commission of inquiry probing bond scams, on Friday, restricted the distribution of free bottles of water to lawyers.

Free bottles of water are now provided only to the commission staff and the state counsel. A water dispenser has been made available for others including the media personnel.

That measure had been adopted as the Presidential Secretariat had made inquiries about costs, the commission said.

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