December 10, 2012, 8:42 pm
LBO: The country’s banking secrecy laws may not be worth the paper it is written on and confidential information of customers could be easily obtained, a senior government minister said over the weekend.
Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the 117 ruling party legislators who signed the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake had access to what should have been highly confidential personal details of bank customers.
"I obtained credit card details of Mangala Samaraweera when I was merely an opposition member of parliament. So do you think the 117 government MPs who signed the impeachment cannot get (secret) banking details," Senaratne said.
He was responding to queries during a media conference, on how confidential bank details of bank account details of the Chief Justice had been obtained by the ruling party.
The impeachment resolution was not supported by documentary evidence of the alleged financial misconduct of Bandaranayake, but a Parliamentary Select Committee, using powers it had given itself through Standing Orders (the rules of debate of parliament) and had obtained banking details.
A press conference by the seven ruling party MPs in the PSC on Saturday admitted that they called for supporting evidence from the banks and that the impeachment itself had no supporting documents.
Asked if the PSC acted as prosecutors or as judges, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva brushed aside the question and said they were inquiring the allegations.
Critics say the actions of the PSC is the latest in a series of actions where the justice has been denied to citizens over a systematic expansion of the powers of rulers through two constitutions and the destruction of a once-independent public service.