Rs.500 mn spent from EPF to purchase SriLankan Airlines shares - Witness

It was disclosed at the Presidential Commission investigating into alleged frauds at SriLankan Airlines that Rs.500 million has been spent from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to purchase SriLankan Airlines shares belonging to Emirates company on the instructions of a Bank of Ceylon official.

Finance and Media Ministry Secretary Dr. Samantha Samaratunga giving evidence before the Commission yesterday upheld that the EPF funds have been utilised for the purchase of SriLankan shares even after the Cabinet decided that the Bank of Ceylon and Sri Lanka Insurance should purchase the SriLankan shares belonging to the Emirates.

The Commission told Samaratunga to report as to how members of the EPF were benefitted by this investment.

Samaratunga added that P.A.Lionel, an Assistant General Manager of the Bank of Ceylon had issued a directive to an EPF Superintendent of the Central Bank on July 10, 2010 to purchase SriLankan shares using EPF funds.

Dr.Samaratunga added that the Investment Committee of the Central Bank had decided to purchase these shares using EPF funds without carrying out a proper study.

He said that no feasibility study or proper accessment has been done in this regard. However, the Investment Committee has decided to release the funds for this purpose and one of the Committee members had signed the relevant document.

He added that the EPF funds do not belong to the government but to the employees in the public and private sector.

“A special procedure has to be followed when these funds are utilised for investments,” he said.

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