EC, Police debunk reports of blocking probe into ex-FCID boss | Sunday Observer

EC, Police debunk reports of blocking probe into ex-FCID boss

National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday (2) denied that the Commission had directed the IGP to stall a FCID investigation into former Senior DIG Ravi Waidyalankara and his family who are at the centre of a corruption scandal, although Sunday Observer learns that such a letter was indeed in the works at the Elections Secretariat on Friday (1) night.

Speaking to Sunday Observer, Deshapriya said that no such letter had been sent to the Acting IGP. Several media reports claimed that the NEC had written requesting the IGP to consider postponing a criminal investigation involving Ravi Waidyalankara until the conclusion of the Presidential Election scheduled to be held on November 16, as the investigation could be capitalized on by political parties to the disadvantage of a particular candidate.

Waidyalankara’s request to stall his investigation comes in the wake of two television interviews he provided to select private media organisations staunchly aligned to one presidential candidate. In these interviews, he claimed he had been pressured by the Government to conduct investigations into the Rajapaksa family, and that the FCID had not unearthed any evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Gotabaya Rajapaksa in relevant criminal investigations.

Even though Chairman Deshapriya has vehemently rejected yesterday’s media reports that the commission had written to the IGP, Sunday Observer reliably learns that Ravi Waidyalankara has come to the commission with a letter requesting the commission to direct the IGP to halt the investigation until the end of the Presidential Election. Highly placed sources at the Elections Commission told Sunday Observer that the letter sent through Waidyalankara’s lawyer had claimed that some were making political capital out of the whole incident and taking undue advantage.

The letter requested the Commission to direct the Police to temporarily halt the investigation until the end of election, on the grounds that “electronic media are using this incident for political purposes”. At least two members of the Elections Commission had proposed forwarding the request letter to the IGP for his consideration, the officials said. However, Sunday Observer learns that the letter to the IGP from the Commission has to-date not been dispatched despite having been prepared. It is unclear if the delay was administrative in nature.

“The letter was only forwarded to the IGP. The commission didn’t write to the IGP on behalf of anyone. The letter was simply referred to the IGP so that he can consider the contents of that letter,” the Elections Secretariat source told the Sunday Observer. Meanwhile, releasing a statement to the media yesterday (2) Police Spokesman SSP Ruwan Gunasekara said the lead story carried in a widely circulated Sinhalese newspaper was false.

The spokesman claimed that the Police Headquarters had not received any direction from the Elections Commission about the investigation into Waidyalankara, which is being conducted by the Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID). Authoritative sources told Sunday Observer that Waidyalankara had visited the Elections Commission with a team of lawyers on October 31 at around 2PM.

Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya had greeted the former FCID boss, and directed him to Commissioner Nalin Abeysekera’s office, the sources said. Commissioner Abeysekera supervises the Complaints division of the Commission during the election season. Waidyalankara visited the Elections Commission again yesterday morning for discussions with one of the Commissioners, Sunday Observer learns.

There is no precedent for the Elections Commission or elections officials directing the conduct by police in criminal investigations. In 2005, then presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa filed a petition in the Supreme Court, successfully seeking a stay order in a criminal investigation involving his alleged complicity in mishandling tsunami donations.

However, at no stage did the Elections Commission intervene on behalf of the candidate. After the investigation was stalled and he was elected President, Rajapaksa was cleared of all charges by the police and Attorney-General’s Department.

Under current law, decisions by the Commission must be taken at meeting at which all three members of the Commission are present. However, speaking to the

Sunday Observer, one of the three Elections Commissioners, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole, said that the FCID matter had never come up before the Commission for decision. Commissioner Hoole said lawyers for Waidyalankara had visited him in his office on Thursday (31) and he had asked them to send a complaint in writing that could be taken up by the commission at its next sitting.