Presidential Commission of Inquiry: Public Debt Dept Officer testifies

Presidential Commission of Inquiry: Public Debt Dept Officer testifies

Written by Keshala Dias

30 Jun, 2017 | 8:50 pm

The officer from the Front Office of the Public Debt Department, Steffi Fernando whose name has been mentioned on many occasions at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Treasury Bond Issue, testified today.

Steffi Fernando testified that after Arjuna Mahendran instructed that all bids be accepted, the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Public Debt had made attempts to rationalise the consequences of doing so.

The witness said she was not aware of the former governor’s directive to do away with Direct Placements, following the auction on February 27, 2015.

She revealed that after the auction, the entire bond market suffered a great shock ,with the Bank of Ceylon Chief Dealer requesting her to send a bottle of poison, in a phone conversation that took place later that day.

It came to light that if the Central Bank had accepted the one billion rupee on offer, the remaining cash requirement could have been raised via Direct Placements.

Steffi Fernando went on to say that Perpetual Treasuries Limited was not a very active participant in the markets.

Meanwhile, Sulochana Wickramasooriya, Senior Assistant Director of IT at the Central Bank, who attempted to place a bid of Rs. 750,000 a day before the controversial auction testified on Friday as well..

He had visited the Primary Dealer unit of the Bank of Ceylon to place a bid after getting to know of the action the day before.

The witness said he determined the coupon rate for the action after taking a look at the press statement published on the CBSL website.

He testified that it was his life savings that he wished to invest in Treasury Bonds.

He had invested in Treasury Bills since 2015 and his attempt to purchase bonds from the controversial auction has been turned down by the BOC.

He revealed that people who used to serve in the Public Debt Department has invested in Government Securities adding he was not aware of any reqirement to report investments to the bank.

Meantime, the Attorney for PTL presented a document sent to his client by the Central Bank in order to establish that a certain ‘code’ in question was being used until 2016 even after the 2013 amendments.

Deputy Solicitor General Milinda Gunathilake opposed the move while the witness – Additional Director of IT, Wasantha De Alwis said the document was incorrect.

The Attorney for PTL continued to claim that the evidence was bias and misleading – the witness stood by his position that the date is accurate.

The Commission instructed the Attorney for PTL to submit his documents through his client.

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