By Niranjala Ariyawansha
The special presidential commission investigating large scale fraud and corruption has summoned former Deputy Minister of Fisheries Sarath Kumara Gunaratne to question him about spending a sum of Rs 13.2 million belonging to the Fisheries Corporation on the presidential election campaign of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Gunaratne is the Chief Organizer of the United People’s Freedom Alliance for Negombo.
Secretary of the Commission, Lascille de Silva told Ceylon Today that Gunaratne was summoned to the Commission on a complaint that the former Deputy Minister of Fisheries had fraudulently obtained from the Fisheries Corporation a sum of Rs 13.2 million for printing and distribution of t-shirts and caps during the election campaign of the former President stating that it was for the development of the Negombo lagoon and related events.
Several officials including former Chairman of the Fisheries Corporation Upali Liyanage who are named as respondents in this case were questioned by the Special Presidential Commission yesterday.
De Silva said that obtaining evidence in connection with complaints to the Presidential Commission, which was appointed to investigate large scale fraud and corruption began yesterday for the first time and the group allegedly connected to this fraud were summoned as the first group to record evidence.
“The work of our commission could be slow because of the general election. However, as soon as the election is over, we will summon each person accused of large scale fraud and corruption. The reason is that it is the money of the public of this country that has been diddled” De Silva emphasized.
He also said 824 complaints on large scale fraud and corruption have been received by the commission and that investigations into 500 of them have already been completed. He also said that 150 of these complaints have been referred for further investigations. Silva said that assistance will be obtained to investigate these 150 complaints from the special police unit established under the leadership of Assistant Superintendent of Police LalithAbeysekera.
This Commission was appointed in March by President Maithripala Sirisena to conduct investigations regarding serious frauds, corruption and misuse of state resources, privileges and power.
The Commission is investigating accusations regarding such incidents which occurred during the period 10 January 2010 to 10 January 2015.
The Commission comprises four judges and a former Auditor General