COPE uncovers the Rs.50 million scam that took place at PGIS of University of Peradeniya

It was revealed at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) that a former senior official of the Postgraduate Institute of Science (PGIS) affiliated to the University of Peradeniya had fraudulently obtained Rs. 50 million from fixed deposits maintained by the PGIS of the university.

The Post Graduate Institute affiliated to the University of Peradeniya had closed 14 fixed deposits which were under the Peradeniya Branch of People's Bank, during the period from 01 January 2009 to 31 December 2016 and obtained a sum of Rs. 93 million.

Out of this amount, only Rs. 37 million (Rs. 37,948,865) has been invested in new fixed deposits and Rs. 50 million (Rs. 50,338,160) has been fraudulently obtained personally by the Senior Assistant Bursar of the PGIS of University of Peradeniya.

The officer involved in the financial fraud has been interdicted and is being investigated by the CID. It was further revealed at the COPE meeting that the Council of the University of Peradeniya is conducting a disciplinary inquiry into the fraudsters and in addition the Auditor General's Department is imposing surcharges.

The COPE met under the chairmanship of Prof. Charitha Herath to review the Auditor General's report for the years 2018 and 2019 and the current performance of the Postgraduate Institute affiliated to the University of Peradeniya.

The Committee also focused on the payment of an allowance of 10% made for the Librarian of the Faculty of Science, in addition to the relevant monthly salary for his work in the Postgraduate Institute, without the relevant approval.

The COPE inquired as to why the report had not been submitted by the PGIS even though a sum of Rs.6,386,200 had been paid to the PGIS for the submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment report (EIA) on the construction of the proposed Badulla-Kandy expressway.

The Committee also noted that the Research and Scholarship Fund, which was established by the Postgraduate Institute of Science to provide research and scholarship facilities, had not spent any money during the year 2019 and had a balance of Rs. 8,038,458 by the end of the year. The Director - PGIS stated that 12 scholarships have been awarded to suitable scholarship recipients.

The COPE recommended that a separate Internal Auditor be appointed for the audit of these postgraduate institutions rather than relying on the internal audit department of the university.

In addition, the Committee instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Education Prof. Kapila Perera to appoint a subcommittee on the administrative affairs of all nine postgraduate institutions throughout the country and submit a report within six months. The Committee also instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Education to appoint a subcommittee on the administrative affairs of all nine postgraduate institutions throughout the country and submit a report within six months.

State Ministers Susil Premajayantha and Indika Anuruddha, MPs Patali Champika Ranawaka, Eran Wickramaratne, Premnath C. Dolawatta and Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Prof. Kapila Perera, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Prof. Sampath Amaratunga, Vice Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya Prof. Upul Dissanayake and many other officials participated in the meeting.

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