Aloysius has lied to COPE committee - Palisena

Perpetual Treasuries Limited Chief Executive Officer Kasun Palisena yesterday stated that PTL owner Arjun Aloysius has lied to the COPE sub-committee investigating into the Treasury bond issue with regards to his involvement in the operational activities of PTL.

Deputy Solicitor General Milinda Gunatilake took Palisena through a series of questions with regard to certain statements made by Aloysius to the COPE sub-committee on his resignation from the post of PTL CEO and his involvement in the daily activities of the PTL.

According to the statement given by Aloysius to COPE sub-committee, he stepped down from the post of CEO of the PTL due to the conflict of interests that arose when Arjun Mahendran, his father-in-law, became the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

While pointing out that certain telephone call recordings between Arjun Aloysius and Kasun Palisena reveals that the former was instructing the latter how to and how much to be for at what rates, DSG Gunatilake suggested that Aloysius in that case had lied to the COPE investigation. DSG Gunatilake argued that Aloysius in fact, contrary to his statement to the COPE, involved himself in PTL’s day to day activities when it came to dealing and other operational activities. Palisena, who was testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating into the Treasury bond issue, initially denied that Aloysius had lied to COPE.

“Did not Aloysius involve himself in daily dealing activities of the PTL, as suggested by these telephone call conversations?” DSG Gunatilake asked. “Not always. Only if there is anything important,” Palisena replied. “Ah, that means Aloysius involved himself only in big things?” DSG Gunatilake queried. Palisena then said Aloysius did involve himself with PTL trading activities, but not always and regularly.

DSG Gunatilake then asked Palisena, whether or not PTL recorded large profits at certain Treasury bond auctions, by taking trading decisions according to instructions given by Aloysius. Palisena again gave an answer suggesting that Aloysius was not involved with PTL activities regularly. Then, Commissioner Supreme Court Judge,Justice P.S. Jayawardena specifically questioned Palisena whether Aloysius’s involvement in PTL activities was of an operational nature, to which Palisena did not give a clear answer.

Justice Jayawardena then asked Palisena to read out another portion of the testimony given by Aloysius to COPE, where Aloysius explains that “had he been involved in PTL trading activities, it definitely would have been in operational activities.” He was then asked to consider his answer according to what Aloysius told the COPE investigation. Palisena seemed unconvinced that Aloysius’s involved himself in PTL activities on a daily basis.

Palisena repeated another “He (Aloysius) was involved but not always.” to the suggestion.

Following Palisena’s reply, Chairman of the commission Supreme Court Judge, Justice K.T. Chitrasiri observed that “It is very difficult to get an answer from you!” referring to Kasun Palisena.

Justice Jayawardena then questioned Palisena on the matter at hand.

Justice Jayawardena: Now, don’t fool around. When Aloysius said to COPE that he does not involve in operational activities of PTL, was he lying or not?

The witness remains silent.

JJ: Do you know the meaning of a lie?

The witness still remains silent.

JJ: Did he lie or not?

Kasun Palisena: He has.

Following the answer Chairman Justice K.T. Chitrasiri observed that Kasun Palisena took two minutes to answer the question.

DSG Gunatilake also questioned Palisena if Arjun Aloysius was aware of PTL using its customers’ securities without their consent or awareness for other deals. Palisena denied of such activity.

Palisena was also questioned on another portion of Aloysius’s statement to COPE with regards to his instructions to PTL as he stepped down from his post as CEO. According to Aloysius, he has instructed PTL to act accordingly to the Central Bank regulations when trading in the market. Justice Jayawardena asked Palisena if Aloysius had this instruction in a memo or any other written form. Palisena said no such written memo was given by Aloysius.

JJ: So we are not inclined to believe you that Aloysius actually instructed so. If PTL violated Central Bank regulations, would Aloysius have know about it?

Palisena: Necessarily would have.

JJ: Central Bank charges that PTL violated regulations with regards to day to day operations. So Aloysius knew these violations?

P: Yes, he would have.

JJ: So was Aloysius deliberately lying?

Palisena did not provide a clear answer to the question.

Chairman Justice K.T Chitrasiri in a lighter tone added, “This is like husband not knowing what wife does!” causing much laughter among those present in the room.

Meanwhile, Palisena also denied knowing anything or to have given instructions to delete telephone call recordings or to crash the voice logger computer of the PTL call recording system. According to Palisena he thought all call recordings were handed over to the investigators of the commission.

Asked if then PTL IT executive Sachit Devatantri is lying about the computer crashing under Palisena’s instructions, the witness said he is not aware of IT matters.

DSG Gunatilake pointed out when Salgado testified that Palisena instructed to delete calls and crash the computer, no counsel objected him in this regard. Palisena denied knowing anything about crashing computers and deleting calls.

A telephone conversation between Kasun Palisena and Kavin Karunamoorthy was then played before the commission suggesting that Palisena proposed to fabricate a call requested by the Central Bank for investigation on PTL.

The conversation has taken place in November 2015, regarding a certain deal. In the conversation, Palisena seemingly proposes Karunamoorthy that “Api wena (call) ekak karamuda?” because there is much slang incorporated in the initial call conversation.

Palisena denied that he was suggesting fabricating a call conversation in place of the original. He also denied knowing PTL call recording systems having the ability to record the call information such as time and caller ID. DSG Gunatilake pointed out that Palisena among thousands of call recordings, has identified and given to the Central Bank specific call recordings by using date, time and caller ID which is contrary to his affidavit to the Treasury Bond Commission. DSG Gunatilake called Palisena “an unrepentant liar” and suggested that Palisena lied to the Treasury Bond Commission. Palisena said he denied the suggestion made by DSG Gunatilake.

The commission several time requested Palisena to answer truthfully to questions put to him. Justice Jayawardena went on to say “Mr. Palisena, at least out of courtesy, try to make it believable when you are lying!” Palisena however was adamant that he was not lying.

It was also revealed before the Commission that Palisena receives a nine digit bonus from his company. Justice Jayawardena asked if Palisena had a personal interest in the well being of PTL, when proving PTL has done nothing wrong in the Treasury bond issue, to which Palisena answered in a reluctant affirmation.

When asked about a reference to a payment of Rs. 1 million to a “little Jhonny” as a “boss’ payment”, Palisena said the said “Little Jhonny” could be anybody. He went on to say that it is a term like “podiyan” which they used for small customers or dealers they are transacting with.

DSG Gunatilake: So who is little Jhonny?

Palisena: Little Jhonny can be anyone!

DSG: Can I suggest to you that there is a limit to lying?

Palisena: Ah…

DSG: Oh, you think there is no limit to lying!

The Commission will sit again on Monday (18). 

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