Commissioners of Sri Lanka’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) met for the first time on Friday, after the induction of a new chairman, but contrary to expectations, there was virtually zero discussion on crucial issues such as current probes and investigations against alleged market manipulation and insider traders.
Instead, the Commission headed by Dr Nalaka Godahewa, who, incidentally, heads a vibrant company listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange(CSE), decided to hold another meeting on Tuesday, to discuss current issues and map out strategy for future development of the market.
The market has been dogged by allegations of insider trading and market manipulation and, as the SEC got tough, pressure from influential investors saw Indrani Sugathadasa resigning, followed by Tilak Karunaratne last month. The exit of Mr. Karunaratne and the appointment of a market-friendly Dr Godahewa, saw the market return to buoyant levels.
Sources close to the Commission said the chairman was also likely to meet brokers this week.Tuesday’s meeting will involve a brainstorming session aimed at preparing a game plan on its future direction, one source said.
“The commissioners are also expected to discuss and thrash out many issues, while taking stock of the current situation,” one source said.
Dr. Godahewa, at his first meeting with SEC staff last week, urged them to complete all pending probes within the next three months.
Along with Dr. Godahewa, the other commissioners are D.K. Hettiarachchi, Lolitha Abeysinghe, M.Z.H. Hashim, Ananda Silva, Sujeewa Rajapakse, Dr Prathiba Mahanamahewa, Sajith R. Attygalle and Priyantha Fernando.
The only new commissioner, other than Dr Godahewa, is Mr Fernando, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank, who is now a director of Union bank and Commercial Leasing & Finance Limited (CLC), a unit of the LOLC group.
Dr Godahewa resigned from George Steuart Finance (formerly Divasa Finance) before taking up the SEC appointment, but continues as Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and Chairman of the Colombo Land and Development Co. (CLDC), owners of the Liberty Plaza, in which, powerful investor Dilith Jayaweera has a sizable stake.
Recently, CLDC, in a stock market announcement, said it was planning to construct a tourist hotel, raising conflict of interest issues in Dr Godahewa’s case.