JO accuses Samarawickrama of Mahapola Trust Fund scam

Thursday, 24 November 2016 00:24 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Chamodi Gunawardana

The Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday lodged a complaint alleging fraud in the Mahapola Trust Fund involving Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama which they claim cost the State a loss of Rs. 1 billion. 

Joint Opposition MP Sisira Jayakody lodged complaints both at the Bribery Commission and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) saying that Samarawickrama was involved in a scam to embezzle Rs. 1 billion. 

“The Mahapola Trust Fund, which is worth Rs. 80 billion and assists pupils, was under the Trade Ministry. After Samarawickrama took over the Development Strategies and International Trade Ministry he took over the Mahapola Trust Fund through a special gazette. This was the beginning of the robbery,” he alleged.

Jayakody also claimed that Samarawickrama had violated State economic policies by appointing Wickrama Weerasuriya as a main shareholder in a primary dealing company as the Chairman of National Wealth Corporation Ltd. which is mandated with investing the fund’s money in suitable companies.

“Samarawickrama has no right to appoint such a person who has a connection to primary dealing companies as the Head of State owned the National Wealth Corporation Ltd. It was totally incorrect and it was a conflict of interest,” he said. 

On two previous occasions the Joint Opposition levelled corruption allegations against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake with separate complaints being lodged against each of them. The Joint Opposition promised the public that they would expose the “top ten most corrupt members of this Government” over the coming weeks. 

Tracing the trail of transactions involving the National Wealth Corporation, Jayakody alleged that Weerasuriya had invested Rs. 1 billion from the Mahapola Trust Fund in two private companies where his two sons held director posts. Jayakody stated that Weerasuriya was also a shareholder in the same companies.

“After investing Rs. 1 billion, the State-owned company Nat Wealth Securities Ltd., under National Wealth Corporation Ltd., incurred a loss of Rs. 500 million while Weerasuriya’s two sons’ companies gained Rs. 1,000 million from the same deal,” he said. 

As the complainant, Jayakody demanded that the Bribery Commission and CID conduct an independent investigation into the matter. 

Meanwhile, speaking to the media yesterday, MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that the Joint Opposition had collected information on the top 14 corrupt members of the present Government. 

“We were searching for the details of the top 10. However, we have uncovered information about another four fraudsters,” he said.