Avant Guard deal led to a loss of Rs.15 billion – Mahinda Rajapaksa is also among the responsible named for the loss.

  • Outspoken JVPer reappointed COPE Chairman;  tells Parliament political apathy is protecting offenders  
  • Recalls multiple investigations by Committees and Commissions with no legal action 
  • Questions why even reports tabled in Parliament have not yielded results 
  • Says both SLFP and UNP complicit in protecting loyalists  

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

Newly appointed Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Chairman Sunil Handunnetti yesterday delivered a blistering indictment of top politicians from both the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP),charging they were protecting those responsible for corruption and insisting it was pointless to conduct investigations unless the guilty are punished.

Sunil Handunnetti

MP Handunnetti, who was unanimously reappointed on Tuesday to beCOPE Chairman for another term, wanted action taken on reports published rather than promises of future action.

“Frauds of over Rs. 16 billion were revealed when MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was heading COPE. The respective report was tabled in Parliament, and Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara sent it to the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption for action. With the accused in that report crossing over and taking Ministerial positions in the Government, no action was taken on that report,” he said.

COPE, under the guidance of MP Handunnetti, has conducted investigations on the controversial Bond Issuance of the coalition Government. “We were informed the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption’s investigation was faring better than the COPE investigation in terms of evidence gathered. But no action was taken with regards to the findings,” he added.

According to Handunnetti, the former Director General of Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption, Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, was an efficient and independent public officer. “She was removed to stop the investigation on corrupt politicians,” he said.

“There is a Presidential Inquiry Report, which was tabled in the Parliament. This is the final report published by the Committee appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena. The report reveals the names of those who were found guilty for not paying the Independent Television Network. The name of Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa is also among the responsible named for the loss. The Avant Guard deal led to a loss of Rs.15 billion. President Sirisena’s Private Secretary is identified responsible for the loss in this report. So, what is the action taken against him? Unless actions are taken for all these reports it is not good to waste public money appointing more and more Commissions,” he added.

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