“Is the government’s message to go ahead and engage in fraud at the CSE (stock exchange) without worrying about getting caught? If the minister of finance was genuinely concerned in re-establishing a fair and equitable regulatory regime at the CSE would he have appointed persons with strong connections to entities being investigated for alleged securities fraud? Could he not have found three persons from hundreds of honest and untainted professionals in this country for the job?” UNP MP Harsha de Silva asked in a statement.
“Is it not understood that the perception of being clean is as important as being clean; particularly in the background of serious allegations of fraud?” his media statement said.
Referring to media reports, he said that at least two of the three new appointees to the Commission are connected to one or more entities including new chairman Dr Nalaka Godahewa who is connected to at least Colombo Land and Development Company as its chairman and Citrus Leisure (formerly Hotel Reef Comber). Former Central Banker Priyantha Fernando is connected to at least Tabrobane Holdings whose stock broking arm was embroiled in the now cancelled deal involving NSB and The Finance Company.
“It is noteworthy that he headed the Central Bank’s investment committee of the EPF only months prior to being appointed to the board of Tabrobane,” Dr de Silva said.
He said in the background where the ministry of finance is continuously withholding information on CSE transactions even from Parliament ‘it is ironic that the government sees it fit to appoint people connected to entities accused of fraud to regulate the CSE’.
This, he noted, is a sad new chapter that ‘we’ as a country have entered into.
“Actions like these will only harm confidence in the markets and discourage genuine investments sorely needed for development of the country.
If the minister of finance is honestly interested in the sustainable development of Sri Lanka and the well-being of her people then he should cancel these appointments and make fresh choices from those who are unconnected entities being investigated,” the statement added.