President Maithripala Sirisena is scheduled to take action with regard to the recent removal of Chairman of the Lanka Coal Company (Private) Limited, Satendra Maithri Gunaratne and the Director Board of the Company by the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy.
Gunaratne had met the President on January 18 to discuss the issues surrounding the decision to dissolve the Director Board.
The Director Board of the Company was dissolved last week. The move comes in the wake of Attorney-at-Law Gunaratne refusing a request by Ministry Secretary Dr. B.M. Suren Batagoda calling for coal to be purchased at a price higher than what is on offer in the open market.
Accordingly, the State will have to pay USD 10 per ton above the actual market price, in a deal not only unfavourable but ultimately disastrous to the country. Dr. Batagoda had previously written to the President calling for their removal.
Per shipment, there is to be 60,000 to 70,000 metric tonnes (MTs) and 15 or even 18 such shipments are to arrive. The total monetary value is well over USD 9,000,000.
According to anti-corruption organizations, the fraudulent deal which had misled the Cabinet had caused a massive loss of Rs 4,135.43 million as per the Auditor General’s report.
As per the relevant law, Attorney-at-Law Gunaratne was appointed to the post by the President.
Gunaratne told the Weekend Nation that he had come to know that someone had been appointed to replace him as the Chairman of the Lanka Coal Company (Pvt) Ltd. Director (Development) of the Ministry, Sulakshana Jayawardena said that Ministry Additional Secretary Meryl Gunathilake was appointed as Gunaratne’s successor in an acting capacity.
According to Gunaratne, the fraud had been perpetrated by Dr. Batagoda. In 2015 June, Gunaratne had written to Dr. Batagoda regarding the wrong course of action being taken with regard to granting the tender to the Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises Private Limited.
Following this, a special Cabinet appointed procurement committee had recommended Gunaratne’s removal. The Supreme Court in a judgment penned by Chief Justice K. Sripavan held that the awarding of the tender ‘shocked the conscience of the Court’ as it had violated all laws, regulations and procurement guidelines in this regard.
The Court while stating that the tender should never have been pushed ahead also noted that tender procedures should never be amended while the tender is in progress.
Gunaratne was of the view that the said tender was much worse than the bonds scam of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, which he said was deemed so on the basis of assumptions and sans a Court determination or ruling. The Supreme Court considered the tender totally illegal and unlawful and therefore this tender supersedes any kind of corruption that has gone on before including the Treasury bonds fraud.
Gunaratne said that President Sirisena had been kept abreast of the happenings in this regard during every stage of the process.