Each part of the system got rigged — even the most sacred | Sunday Observer

Each part of the system got rigged — even the most sacred

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week acknowledged in a public interview on television that Arjuna Mahendran the former Governor of the Central Bank, now absconding, did not inform the then Monetary Board about the switch to the auction system in the infamous bond placement at the time of the Bond scam. As elections draw near, the scam is again in the spotlight for the long trail of financial losses it left in its wake.

What has a book on the Bond scam by a former Central Bank Governor, the Volkswagen car company and a bigger scam and a scammer plus scammer-enabler who calls himself a doctor, have to do together in one bundle? Such things happen.

The Volkswagen emissions scandal was one of the biggest ever scams in the history of the world of scamming. Eleven million of the company’s diesel cars were released from the manufacturing plant equipped with software that evaded emission controls, but nobody knew, and when the scandal broke there was a massive cover up.

That’s when a bell rings because a Member of Parliament, Harsha de Silva, is the person who perpetrated another soft but hilarious scam on the people of this country with the claim that the Volkswagen company would establish one of its largest plants here in Sri Lanka: you could call it Volkswagen scam circa 2016.

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal in his book, The Bond Scam Cover Up : The Mother of All Cover Ups, raises the red flag on the bigger scandal that the Volkswagen blunderer perpetrated on the people of this country. This was by leaving footnotes all over the COPE Special Parliamentary Investigation Committee report on the Bond Scam, which shall be referred to hereinafter in this review as the ‘PTL Bond Scam’. PTL was the acronym for Perpetual Treasuries Limited which bilked the CBSL for a good two billion rupees at the very least and caused billions more of losses to the Sri Lankan taxpayer from the consequences of the colossal bond scam.

Cover up

The cover up was epic, and if the PTL bond scam is never fully investigated and its perpetrators brought to book, the best way to get there would be to apprehend at least those who enabled the scam by covering it up. Imagine that a major part of this cover up effort was attempted in the Parliament — and by the very body that was set up by Parliament to investigate the scam, the special committee of COPE to investigate the Bond Scam.

Cabraal jogs people’s memory on exactly how this obfuscation effort in COPE was launched by the so called footnote gang, whose major cover up enablers were Harsha de Silva and Sujeewa Senasinghe. But the extent of the malicious intent to sweep the scandal under the carpet was much greater than most people would know, or would have thought.

The footnotes in the COPE report were placed with the specific intent of blackening COPE, and forming a fifth column within it to discredit all its good members including Chairman Handunnetti who was trying to get to the bottom of the scandal. The modus operandi went far beyond the mere planting of footnotes that would undermine the document from bottom up, literally.

The footnote squad in fact tried to dump an alternate COPE report on Parliament, after bulldozing their way into taking over COPE proceedings after Chairman Sunil Handunnetti had walked out due to the constant undercurrent of dissent with bad intent that was launched by the footnote squad headed by Harsha and Sujeeva.

There was nothing that was hallowed. These people thought that COPE too can be rigged the same way they rigged everything to obtain what they thought would get them ahead, up the social ladder and in life. The essence of these details divulged in Cabraal’s book should be retained for posterity as they would add value to the legend of how the ‘hustle of the bit players eyeing for big game’ came a cropper.

Both Silva and Senasinghe think nothing of making misrepresentations and sometimes resorting to outright irregular methodology to advance careers, get ahead in their chosen political projects, and so on. But in the case of the COPE cover up they took that tendency right into the bowels of Parliament, the Committee rooms that are sacrosanct in that they are the last line in preserving accountability and rectitude in public life.

Gigantic

They came a cropper, only due to the due diligence of certain intrepid whistleblowers and corruption busters, Cabraal being one of them in the forefront of taking the bottom off one of the most cynical attempts at covering up the most egregious scam in the history of public life in this country.

PTL had obtained bons worth five billion from the bond auction in early 2015 when the scam was perpetrated, but Senasinghe wrote a book in Sinhala that claimed PTL had obtained bonds worth two billion. Cabraal reveals also, how the legal machinery of the country was railroaded or more accurately, prostituted to advance the cover up of the gigantic scam.

First up, Senasinghe is a lawyer. But that one can say is only happenstance, but through his agency or otherwise the services of two lawyers who were incompetent to handle any kind of investigation of a financial nature, leave alone the Bond scam were found — wait for it — from within the innards of the United National Party apparatus.

Word is that Ranil Wickremesinghe himself wrote the so called lawyers’ report from within his offices and signed the name of the so-called lawyers committee men as signatories at the bottom of the document. Cabraal doesn’t say that but the reader could well infer by implication.

Verdict

A case was also filed ostensibly targeting the scam, but precisely with the intent of getting it dismissed. A lawyer again who was from within the innards of the UNP appeared lamely for a couple of petitioners whose prayer for relief was so equally lame that it became somewhat obvious that they went to Court to give the outside world the appearance that the scam has been ‘considered’, and dismissed forthwith by Court.

These and other observations are part of former CBSL Governor’s revelations in The Mother of All Cover ups: the Bond Scam Cover Up, soon to appear in Sinhalese in translation. It’s a social treatise cum an exposé on the workings of a set of ethically challenged people that tried in vain to cover up one of the worst scams in history.

The historical verdict is clear. The PTL bond scam under the UNP SJB administration was several times worse than any scam or any public financial irregularity in the history of this country ever before, and that is incontrovertible. Trying to compare that period of scamming in any way to the rather successful economy engineered by the CBSL from 2006 to 2015, is an abomination.

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