Hailing the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) report on the controversial bond scam as a victory for democracy, Deputy Minister of State Enterprises Eran Wickramaratne yesterday revealed that, if adequate legal frameworks are presently unavailable, the Government is prepared to bring in new laws to take back the money it lost.
Though it was his personal opinion that the retroactive application of new laws is generally in bad form, the bond issue can be treated as a special case if there is enough support for it, he said. There are ways and means of reclaiming the money without introducing new laws too, he added.
The United National Party (UNP) is fully supportive of investigations being carried out, said Wickramaratne, calling on the CID, FCID and Bribery Commission as well as the judiciary to take appropriate action where necessary.
“I urge the judiciary not to hide behind allegations of political interference and carry out its mandate. It’s a public report. You can take action. The Prime Minister has stated that he’ll hand it over to the Attorney General,” he said.
Dismissing allegations that UNP members in the COPE subcommittee appointed to investigate the matter had disrupted proceedings as a simple misunderstanding, the Deputy Minister said that any objection raised by UNP MPs were on mere technicalities and had no bearing on the overall conclusion of the report.
When asked about comments by the Auditor General, the Deputy Minister said that there was a question as to why the Central Bank had not provided him with all the information pertaining to the case.
“We have no quarrel with the Auditor General. Some MPs questioned the method used to calculate the losses to the Government. According to the information provided to him by the CBSL, he has said the decision made is fair. But what we have to question why he wasn’t given all the information,” he said.
Wickramaratne also suggested that if investigations continue and go deeper, connections between “crooks” of the previous government and Perpetual Treasuries will start to emerge.
“This is why we openly support the investigation. This is a network. We have to bring this down. We’re all for it,” he said.