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No resources to probe petitions

2015 Jan 29

No resources to probe petitions
Investigate Sino-Lanka purchase of half built Hyatt Grand Regency – Harsha tells CIABOC

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) yesterday complained to the government that while it was being asked to probe the numerous petitions lodged, it did not have the resources to undertake work of such magnitude.

Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs Harsha De Silva requested the CIABOC yesterday afternoon to probe the circumstances under which prime property at Colpety which earlier belonged to Ceylinco Shriram had been given to Sino-Lanka Company Limited (SLCL) to build the Hyatt Grand Regency (HGR). Director General of CIABOC R. Dharmawardena requested that necessary resources be provided if they were to carry out its duties properly.

Speaking to journalists ouside the CIABOC, Minister De Silva said that Dharmawardena had informed him that the CIABOC was entitled to a team of police personnel headed by an SSP including an SP and two ASPs, but only the vacancy for an SP had been filled.

" Mr. Dharmawardena having assured that my petition with regard to the HGR deal would be investigated sought an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. He explained that the Commission was short of staff  including investigative personnel and vehicles and also urgently required a minimum of 78 computers if it was to fulfil its duties satisfactorily," De Silva said, adding it was clear that the Rajapaksa regime while sermonizing about good governance had not provided the CIABOC with the resources it required to probe the high profile cases that it had been saddled with.

De Silva said that remedial measures would be implemented after discussing the issues raised by the CIABOC with the Prime Minister.

Commenting on his petition with regard to the HGR deal, the Minister noted that the land had originally belonged to the now defunct Ceylinco Shriram. But, with the collapse of the Ceylinco group it had been acquired by the last government under its controversial Expropriation Act. "There was Rs. 7 billion bid for that half built property, but it was given to SLCL. The question is how much SLCL headed by Gamini Senarath purchased it for because it had only a paid up share capital of Rs. 50 at that time. The authorities had allocated Rs. 350 million out of the sale proceeds to pay the depositors in Ceylinco Shriram. But, the question is why the Rs. 7 billion bid for HGR was not accepted. This is what we are asking the CIABOC to inquire into and I agree that it has to be provided the necessary resources to do its work."

Prior to going to the CIABOC, the Minister accompanied a group of journalists to the site of the half built HGR at Colpety.



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