President’s former Chief of Staff, ex-STC chairman further remanded

Former Chief of Presidential Staff K. Mahanama and former State Timber Corporation Chairman P. Dissanayake being taken to the prison from the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court complex, Hulftsdorp. Picture by Wasitha Patabendige.

President’s former Chief of Staff I. H. K. Mahanama and former State Timber Corporation (STC) Chairman P. Dissanayaka, who were in remand custody for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs. 20 million, were further remanded until May 22 by Colombo Additional Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala.

Attorney-at-law Asitha Anthony, the Assistant Director (Legal) of the Bribery Commission informed Court that a person named Joseph Pillay who claimed to be a member of the LTTE’s Intelligence Wing had come to the office of the Complainant (Indian national) on May 8 and sought information regarding this case.

Anthony further submitted that this incident could have an impact on the investigation and moved Court that the suspects be further remanded for a period of two weeks. He further added that the complainant had informed this incident to the Cinnamon Gardens Police and the Bribery Commission and law enforcement authorities would investigate regarding the concerned influence.

President’s Counsel Rienzie Arsekularatne with Counsel Ajith Pathirana and Udara Muhamdiramge appearing for the suspects moved Court that their clients be released on bail since most of the investigations pertaining to the incident had been concluded.

The investigation initiated with the complaint that I. K. Mahanama had demanded a bribe of Rs. 540 million from an Indian investor who was ready to acquire a section of the Kantale sugar factory. Mahanama had been attending to this matter of settling the transaction some time ago while he was the Land Ministry Secretary.

However, the Indian investor had refused to pay the sum stating that it was high and demanded to reduce it. Within several weeks, they allegedly had agreed to accept Rs 100 million. The two were arrested at a car park of a luxury hotel in the capital Colombo, on May 3, by the officers of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption while accepting a bribe of Rs. 20 million.

However, the Colombo Additional Magistrate stated that a number of documents needed for the investigations are still at the places where the suspects worked and the Bribery Commission needs sufficient time to carry out further investigations. He added that even though the requests have been made, the documents have not been submitted. The Additional Magistrate further stated that if the suspects were given bail, the investigations could be disrupted.

The Magistrate also ordered the Bribery Commission to expeditiously complete the investigation into the incident against the suspects.

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