Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is expected to be called in to probe six officials of Lanka Sathosa, who had allegedly submitted forged degree certificates, mainly from top British universities, to secure senior management positions with a six-figure remuneration.
They have now been interdicted by the management after the government-owned, giant retail chain’s auditors checked with the overseas universities concerned and discovered that the academic achievements were fake, a senior official said.
It was a decision by the board of directors to either interdict or terminate their services as forgery is a criminal offence under the law, he elaborated, and added that the matter will be referred to the CID for investigation.There were also PhD, Bsc, MBA, 2nd class special degree and higher level marketing qualifications amongst the lot from the University of Oxford and other leading universities in the UK and a local university, which were all found to be forgeries, he asserted.
One of the officials had even secured a promotion to head operations on the basis of a purported MBA he had completed in a British university, the official said. “In this case also, we checked back with the university and found the qualification was spurious”.
Though Lanka Sathosa is a state-run institution, salaries at management level are relatively more attractive, with the CEO paid Rs. 600,000 per month, a DGM Rs. 300,000 and a senior manager Rs. 200,000, the official said.
Apart from the forged academic achievements, the auditors also found that a certain managerial level employee had taken 77 days ‘unauthorized leave’, but continued to draw the salary, though there was no record of formal approval granted, he noted.
It has also come to light that a three-month stock of spices and allied products worth Rs. 530 million had been ordered, though the average requirement works out to Rs. 200 million, which is doubled only during the Sinhala New Year season, he said.
This has affected the institution’s cash flow, the official pointed out, while indicating that excess stocks are ordered and dumped in warehouses for hefty commissions from private traders. “Ultimately, a major part of the stocks have to be destroyed as they are found unfit for human consumption”.
The assets of some employees will also come under probe as it’s an open secret that apart from palatial houses and a fleet of luxury vehicles, they also own tourist hotels, the official claimed.