2000 complaints, 400 selected, only 17 investigated – but the PRECIFAC term ended

2000 complaints, 400 selected, only 17 investigated – but the PRECIFAC term ended

2000 complaints, 400 selected, only 17 investigated – but the PRECIFAC term ended

Written by Lahiru Fernando

03 Sep, 2017 | 10:25 pm

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Serious Acts of Fraud and Corruption (PRECIFAC) was appointed with a mandate to inquire into, as it’s title goes, ‘large scale acts of fraud and corruption’ between 2010 and 2015.

The commission, chaired by Court of Appeal’s Justice Padman Surasena, has five members comprising entirely of Judges.

The commission has initially received over 2000 complaints, out of which it has decided to investigate 400.

According to the Commission’s Secretary, 17 of those 400 cases have been investigated and reports have been submitted to the President.

Among the controversial issues considered by the PRECIFAC are the following;

1. The misuse of state media to publish and broadcast election campaign messages of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

PRECIFAC considered the financial loss caused to the country as a result.

Namal Rajapaksa was summoned before the commission to testify on this case.

2. Investigated the loss caused to the state from using ‘Rakna Arakshaka Lanka’ security company employees for the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s election campaign.

3. Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa questioned on the investigation into handing over Rakna Arakshaka Lanka weaponry to Avant Garde Security Services.

4. Statements recorded from individuals including prominent artistes over allegations of fraud and corruption in organizing the opening ceremony of Hambantota Port.

5. Former Minister Basil Rajapaksa questioned over misuse of state owned helicopters during the presidential election campaign.

6. Engaged in an ongoing investigation into a Rs. 15.51 billion loss to the state caused by importing rice in 2014, exceeding the amount approved by cabinet.

While PRECIFAC has completed investigations into 17 serious acts of fraud and corruption, it is now in the process of drafting a final report.

But…..

PRECIFAC’s term officially ends today (September 3).

Requests have been directed to the President to extend the term by another 6 months.

According to the Commission’s Secretary, the President’s decision would be communicated to the Commission within the coming week.

What now?

Secretary H.W. Gunadasa noted that investigations will continue into two more cases of irregularities;

  • Sri Lankan Airlines
  • National Water Supply and Drainage Board on district level projects

Meanwhile 120 of the complaints submitted to the commission have been redirected to;

  • Police Financial Crimes Investigation Division
  • Criminal Investigations Department
  • Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption

Six more PRECIFAC investigation reports have been submitted to the Attorney General’s Department for further action.

AG Jayantha Jayasuriya says the process of filing indictments has commenced.

Controversy?

Lacille De Silva, the former Secretary at PRECIFAC was removed in March 2016.

According to De Silva, “Within a year for the first time in history we were investigating a former President. We summoned individuals like the former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Senadhipathi from Avant Garde and we conducted investigations successfully.”

He added that pressure was exerted on the commission throughout that time.

Lacille De Silva stated that during the commission’s investigation into Lak Sathosa, ministers attempted to influence the commission.

The ‘ministers’ Lacille mentioned are as follows;

  • Ravi Karunanayake
  • Vajira Abeywardena
  • Rauff Hakeem
  • Rishad Bathiudeen

“These ministers too should be brought before the law. The government is accountable for these investigations and the safety of the investigating officers.” – Lacille De Silva (Former Secretary – PRECIFAC)

Voice Against Corruption

The VAC charges that thieves are being protected from the Prime Minister downwards.

“They have made deals. Recently they closed down one anti corruption agency. 4 days after the 30th of June, when the Anti Corruption Committee Secretariat’s term ended, the Prime Minister submitted a cabinet paper seeking approval.” – said the VAC.

It added: “The term of the Presidential Commission which was appointed to catch thieves, the commission which is at the BMICH, their term is ending now and it must be extended by the President. If it is not extended it will die a natural death.”

The Voice Against Corruption charge that the thieves and government are “working together to steal”.


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