Ex-Attorney General In Hot Water For Favouring Ravi Karunanayake In Money Laundering Case
Former Attorney General Yuvanjana Wijayatilake has been accused of abusing his office and for unethically granting favours to Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.
In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC) yesterday, Nagananda Kodituwakku, an Attorney-at-Law and Public Interest Litigation Activist claimed that Wijayatilake had abused his office by offering favours to Karunanayake, which according to Kodituwakku falls within the offence of corruption as defined in the Section 70 of the Bribery Act.
In an affidavit filed along with the letter, Kodituwakku said that he had ‘credible evidence’ against the ex-Attorney General in favouring Karunanayake, in the US $ 3 million money laundering case connected to Raj Rajaratnam, the founder of the Galleon Group.
Kodituwakku claimed that ‘apparently’ due to political pressure Wijayatilake, absolutely failed to perform the public office he held as required by law, whereas in a similar case where the accused Basil Rajapaksa, a former Minister in the Rajapaksa administration, was served with a faulty indictment, the Attorney General carried out his duties as required by law by serving an indictment afresh on the accused Basil Rajapaksa.
The activist pointed out that according to law and tradition the office of the Attorney General in the Republic of Sri Lanka, holds the office endowed with powers, onerous duties and special rights in regard to matters involving the exercise of sovereignty of the people which include the Executive, Legislative and Judicial power. And the Attorney General represents and acts for the people of Sri Lanka and not for any organ of the Republic of Sri Lanka, that exercise undeniable sovereign rights of the people purely on trust.
“And it has been observed by the concerned citizens that the abuse of office by the persons who held the office of the Attorney General has already caused tremendous damage to the credibility in the office, resulting in an erosion of the people’s confidence in the office which had been openly abused to please the Executive, completely disregarding the constitutional duty vested in the person who holds the office who is under duty to perform it with due respect and regard to the sovereignty vested only in the people and those abuses have clearly resulted in the deterioration of the public trust placed in the judiciary,” he said.
Therefore, with a view to restore the public trust and confidence in the office of the Attorney General, without which the norm of representative democracy is unworkable, Kodituwakku requested the Commission to initiate a credible and independent investigation into this complaint in terms of Section 4 of the Act No 19 of 1994.
The four page affidavit by Kodituwakku submitted to the CIABOC chairman is below;
I, Nagananda Kodituwakku, a citizen of Sri Lanka and the UK, a public interest litigation activist, an Attorney at Law (Sri Lanka) and a Solicitor (UK), being Buddhist, currently residing at 99, Subadrarama Road, Nugegoda, do hereby solemnly and truly declare and affirm as follows:-
1. I am the affirmant above-named and I affirm to the facts herein contained from my personal knowledge and by reference to records available to me, and I do so with a sincere hope to restore the deteriorating trust and confidence in the Office of the Attorney General by the people, a fundamental necessity to convey a message to any person appointed to the office of the Attorney General that he performs the office according to rules of reason and justice, and not according to the private opinion and that the executive power vested in the office of the Attorney General shall be exercised within the limits, which an honest person competent to discharge the office ought to confine, having in mind that the power conferred in the office solely to be used for the pubic good, and not for the benefit of any other person in authority or the person holding the office which is held in trust for the public, to be exercised in good faith according the constitutional oath taken to be faithful to the Constitution and the law and perform the office honestly and faithfully, only upon lawful and relevant grounds of public interest, bearing in mind that the accountability of actions is certainly an important facet of good governance and is of paramount importance ensuring that the person holding the office of Attorney General does not abuse, misuse or overstep the powers he has been entrusted which shall only to be used for lawful purposes.
Credible Complaint on corruption concerning the Attorney General Y Wijayatilake
2. I state that in the HC Case No. 4648/2009 (decided on 18th May 2015) Mr Ravi Karunanayake, the person now holding the public office of the Minister of Finance was indicted before the High Court of Colombo, in which he was accused for his connivance in the commission of a very serious money laundering offence involving 3 million US dollars, which he had received from one Raj Rajarathnam, who is now serving a 11-year prison sentence in the US.
3. I state that after Mr Maithripala Sirisena was elected to the office of the Executive President at the Presidential Election held on 08th Jan 2015, a new government was formed in which Mr Ranil Wickramasinghe, was appointed to the office of the Prime Minister and the accused Mr Ravi Karunanayake appointed to the office of the Minister of Finance.
4. Thereafter on 18th May 2015, this case, which was initially taken up at the High Court No 1, was heard at High Court No 4 before the HC Judge Iranganee Perera who was about to be retired from the Office.
5. At the hearing, an objection was raised on behalf of the accused Mr Ravi Karunanayake, by his counsel that the indictment served on the accused was flawed. Inter alia, the primary objections were raised that the accuracy about the date of receipt of the money referred to in the indictment, (3 million US Dollars sent by Raj Rajarathnam) as referred to in the Charge 1 to 4. The indictment refers to the deposit of funds in the account No 1122258 – 02 at the Standard Charted Bank, Kirulapona, whereas the dates referred to in the indictment did not clearly specify whether the dates given therein referred to the date of receipt of the funds in Sri Lanka or the date on which the said funds were credited to the account referred to therein.
6. As there was a clear ambiguity in the said indictment the Court declined to proceed with the matter on the basis that the indictment was defective. Accordingly, the accused Mr Ravi Karunanayake was discharged, however with specific reference made to the legal right of the Attorney General to serve an indictment afresh to the accused Mr Ravi Karunanayake.
(A true copy of the Order made by the Court dated 18th May 2015 marked X1 is attached hereto).
7. I state that despite the fact that the accused Mr Ravi Karunanayake had never been exonerated by the Court, the media, based on interviews had with him, reported that he was exonerated from all the charges leveled against him in the indictment, which was absolutely false and tantamount to deceiving the public.
8. I state that after the discharge of the accused by the High Court, the then Attorney General Mr Yuvanjana Wijayatilake, apparently under political pressure, absolutely failed to perform the public office he held as required by law, whereas in a similar case where the accused Basil Rajapakse, a former Minister in the Rajapakse administration, was served with a faulty indictment, the Attorney General performed the office as required by law by serving an indictment afresh on the accused Basil Rajapakse.
9. I state further that it was manifest from the conduct and demeanor of the then Attorney General, Mr Yuvanjana Wijayatilake, that he had deliberately failed to perform the public office of the Attorney General as required by law and to serve an indictment afresh on the accused Mr Ravi Karunanayake, purely to confer the accused a favor or benefit.
10. And I state that if not for gross failure on the part of the Attorney General Mr Yuvanjana Wijayatilake, the accused Ravi Karunanayake would have faced the full force of law for his connivance in the money laundering case referred to above (HC/4648/2009) filed in the High Court of Colombo.
11. I state that any person holding the office of the Attorney General is required by law to perform the office honestly and faithfully, only upon lawful and relevant grounds of public interest and only for the public good, bearing in mind that the accountability of his actions is certainly an important facet and is of paramount importance, ensuring that the Attorney General does not abuse, misuse or overstep the powers he has been entrusted with only to serve the people and not to confer favors or benefit to any person who is charged or indicted before the High Court as in this case.
12. I state that the material facts presented herein to support the complaint clearly establish a prima facie case of abuse of office by the then Attorney General, Yuvanjana Wijayatilake for improper purposes, which falls within the offence of corruption as defined in the Section 70 of the Bribery Act, that warrants the Corruption Commission to initiate a credible and independent investigation into this complaint in terms of the Section 4 of the commission to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption act No 19 of 1994.
Read over, explained, affirmed
to and signed at Colombo on
this 09th day of March 2017
Justice of Peace