Mandated to summon anyone, even a former president.
A Special Presidential Commission investigating major cases of corruption is gearing for public hearing at a special court established at the BMICH this month.
A spokesperson for the Commission yesterday told The Island that public hearing would get underway in about three weeks. “We are mandated to summon anyone, even a former President,” the official said.
Responding to a query, the official said that a special police team headed by an ASP had been tasked to investigate about 50 cases out of about 600 petitions received by the commission. Acknowledging the contribution made by the investigation team, the official said that the commission was seeking additional personnel with required experience to undertake investigations.
The likely dissolution of Parliament within the next few weeks wouldn’t affect the commission, the official said, adding that it was in the process of finalising work meant to commence public hearing. ‘We are working overtime to meet the deadline. Of course, the commission suffered an initial setback due to some of those who had been appointed to the commission quitting it at the outset of the inquiries.”
The commission comprises four High Court judges namely Preethi Padman Surasena (Chairman), Amandra Seneviratne, Vikum Kaluarachchi and Gihan Kulathunga. However, of the original commission appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena, only HC judge Pilapitiya remains. The original team included SC judge Priyasath Gerard Dep (Chairman), SC judge Anil Gooneratne, retired Auditor Gen. Sarath Mayadunne and retired Additional Solicitor Gen. Aiyathurai Gnanathasan.
Retired Director (Administration) of Parliament Lacille de Silva is Secretary to the Commission.
The commission is authorised to inquire into fraudulent activities that had allegedly taken place between Jan. 10, 2010 and Jan.10, 2015.
In accordance with President Maithripala Sirisena’s call for periodic interim reports and the final report within one year from the commencement of the hearings, the commission recently submitted its first report to the Presidential Secretariat.
According to extraordinary gazette notification issued on March 6, 2015, the commission is tasked with investigating those who had held or continue to hold political office as well as former and present public officials in charge of key institutions.
Sources said that in accordance with the presidential directive, the commission, after having conducted inquiries would refer cases to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, the police or any other law enforcement authority. Sources said that the investigations were meant to facilitate criminal proceedings against those responsible for corruption.
Responding to a query, sources said that in addition to criminal proceedings, the President has sought recommendations from the commission as regards punishment to those responsible as well as preventive measures.
The investigation team would consult the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) and the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) to prevent the repetition of investigations. According to the commission, its investigations would target those who had caused massive financial losses to national economy during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration.
By Shamindra Ferdinando / The Island