Written by Tharushan Fernando
23 Dec, 2016 | 9:33 pm
On December 16, 2016, 13.2 million shares of Seylan Bank held by Bank of Ceylon were sold to a foreign investor at a value of 13.2 billion rupees.
Within a few hours the Prime Minister cancelled the transaction and launched a FCID investigation into the matter.
A number of political representatives expressed views regarding the incident over the week. On the 19th December 2016 ,Convener for Voice Against Corruption,Wasantha Samarasinghe added that since there is not enough money in the country there is a need for ‘out-sider’ to invest in the country.
However the government invites foreign investors and the ‘slaps’ them and sends them back He added that the Bank of Ceylon sold the shares of the Seylan Bank and once the shares were sold the Prime Minister intervened and ordered to cancel the transaction.
“Why did the Prime Minister do something like that? The prime minister did not call for immediate investigations into those involved in the Central Bank bond scam?”charged Mr.Samarasinghe who pointed out that the Prime Minister did not order to recover the money immediately and what the Prime Minister says is that the public deserve this burden and this is their karma. And he wants the public to hand over this burden to their children as well.
“The money that was robbed should be recovered, but he never says that ” he said. On the 21st December 2016, the Minister of Public Enterprise Development, Kabir Hashim noted that as a policy, the government made a decision that the shares of Seylan bank which belong to the government will not be sold.
This was a tactical decision.” he said The minister added that the Bank of Ceylon had carried out the transaction without the approval of the ministry and that there were also reports that the board approval was not received according to proper procedure.
He explained that the system is that the proper mechanism needs to be followed when a special transaction like this is being carried out.But they had not adhered to the proper system in this case. Thus, this was not seen as a legal transaction
“We interfered in the matter as the government and cancelled it”, he said and further noted that the intermediary or the broker was able to talk to the foreign investor and cancel the transaction. On December 22, 2016, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, Professor G.L.Peiris pointed out that Seylan Bank shares were exchanged in the stock markets and the Prime Minister intervened and stopped it.
“What effect would those shares have on the credibility of the markets?” he charged. He explained that the reason for suspending trading was that it was done without any approval. He went on to add that the Central Bank gave money to Perpetual Treasuries and it was clear that the Bank of Ceylon was involved. But Arjuna Mahendran has no authority to instruct the Bank of Ceylon. “If funds from the Bank of Ceylon were used who will be held accountable?” questioned Professor Peiris, who added that the Prime Minister did not make any attempt to inquire this matter from the Bank of Ceylon.
However, with regard to this trade, the Prime Minister acted quickly to stop trading within a few hours.
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