Thilak Karunaratne, the no-nonsense Chairman of Sri Lanka’s crisis-hit Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finally threw in the towel on Friday, quitting in a losing battle against market manipulators and insider traders.
He is the second head of the exchange, following Indrani Sugathadasa's resignation last December again in similar circumstances. The SEC Chief sent in his resignation to the Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera amidst a chorus of protests and concerns locally and internationally. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors, representing the cream of the country’s business leaders, expressed grave concern over the developments.
There were unconfirmed reports that a foreign fund had decided to suspend investments in the stock market as the governing authorities wilted under the pressure of a group of powerful investors. This group has blamed both Mr Karunaratne and his predecessor Ms Sugathadasa for over-regulation of the market and pursuing probes against market manipulation. Sanjay Kulatunga, one of the SEC commissioners also quit. The Commission’s 75-strong staff came out strongly in support of their outgoing chief urging President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a letter, not to accept Mr Karunaratne’s resignation.