Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama in a press conference last week said the allegations of financial misconduct were ludicrous and baseless and it will ultimately be proven once the false complaint lodged by the politically bankrupt Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka People’s Front) is investigated.

Samarawickrama was responding to the JO’s complaint with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) regarding the alleged misappropriation of Rs 1 billion from the Mahapola Higher Education Scholarship Trust Fund, an allegation which the Minister has flatly denied.

The Minister has filed a complaint at the CIABOC calling for an investigation into allegations levelled against him by the Joint Opposition (JO).

Samarawickrama clarified that Rs 300 million, legally provided for by the National Wealth Corporation (NatWealth Corporation), which manages the said fund, had been deposited with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka for investment in NatWealth Securities, which is a subsidiary established for the purpose of dealing in Treasury bonds and bills.

The fund is controlled by a board chaired by Chief Justice K. Sripavan, of which Samarawickrama along with the Secretaries of the Ministries handling the subjects of Higher Education and Development Strategies and International Trade and Chairman of NatWealth Corporation and NatWealth Securities, Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria are members.

At present, there is Rs 10 billion in the said fund, the monies of which have been invested in Treasury bills, bonds and fixed deposit accounts in banks.