The FCID (Financial Crime Investigation Division) had dragged its feet on several complaints against the losses incurred by the Lanka Sathosa due to its dealings with Liverpool Navigation (Pvt.) Ltd in 2015, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI), investigating alleged corruption in the current administration observed yesterday.
Former Chairman of Lanka Sathosa, Kiran Atapattu, told the Presidential Commission, earlier this month that Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and his public relations officer, M. Abdullah had exerted pressure on him to make an illegal payment of Rs. 549 million to Liverpool Navigation (Pvt.) Ltd in July 2015.
The owner of Liverpool Navigation was a close friend of Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, who was also in charge of Sathosa, the PCoI was told.
Testifying before the Presidential Commission, Director of FCID Pavithra Dayaratne said that they could not find adequate proof on the matter and they could not identify any suspects. Chairman of the Commission, retired Supreme Judge Upali Abeyratne said that FCID had been dragging its feet on the investigation.
Dayaratne said that 16 possible suspects had been identified and that they were currently analysing their financial status.
“Our investigations have revealed that there was no procurement process when importing rice,” he said.
Chairman of the Commission asked the Director of FCID whether they had investigated allegations that Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was involved in those transactions. Dayaratne said that FCID had obtained a statement from the Minister who had denied all allegations against him.
“You are really dragging your feet on this investigation and we are dissatisfied with the progress,” Justice Abeyratne told the FCID director.
Dayaratne said that their investigations had revealed that Lanka Sathosa officials had stored imported rice together with rice that was not suitable for consumption. The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) was also conducting an investigation and that the Commission was planning to file a case in the Magistrate’s Court, the commission was informed.
“The CIABOC has refused to share some of the documents it has taken under its custody on the matter and this has hampered our investigation,” Dayaratne said.
Taking the matter into consideration, the PCoI issued notice on the Director General of Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption to hand over the necessary documents to the PCoI.
Dayaratne also gave evidence on Mega Construction that had carried out a number of questionable construction projects in Mannar. Joint Opposition MP Udaya Gammanpila told the PCoI, in July, that Mega Construction Company, of which Bathiudeen’s wife owned 60% of the shares, had obtained over Rs. 100 million for roads that were never constructed. One was for the construction of a road between Veppankulam and Silavathurai and the other was for the construction of a road between Eluwankulama and Silavathurai. “Mega Construction got Rs. 22.3 million for the road between Veppankulam and Silavathurai and Rs. 79.2 million for the construction of a road between Eluwankulama and Silavathurai. Residents of the area claim that these roads were never constructed,” Dayaratne confirmed that the Minister’s wife was a director of the company and the entire management comprised close relations of the Minister. The company had changed its name few times and it had a close relationship with Liverpool Navigation (Pvt.) Limited.
PCoI had issued summons on Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and his public relations officer Abdullah.