Bond scam trial to continue without accused Mahendran, Punchihewa

The Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday ordered the Central Bank Bond scam case to proceed in the absence of former Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran and Ajhan Gardiye Punchihewa, who are currently reported to be hiding abroad.

The case was taken up before the Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar Bench comprising High Court Judges Amal Ranaraja, Namal Balalle and Adithya Patabendige.

State Counsel Lakmini Girihagama appearing on behalf of the Attorney General informed Court that Arjun Mahendran, named as the third accused in the case and Ajhan Gardiye Punchihewa, named as the ninth accused, are now evading Court and are abroad.

Accordingly, Counsel sought the Court’s permission to conduct evidence in relation to the request to proceed with the case under Section 458 of the Criminal Procedure Code without the two accused.

The Bench allowed prosecution to proceed in the case without the presence of two of the accused. The indictments were filed against 10 accused in the Colombo High Court by the Attorney General. They are Perpetual Treasuries Private Ltd, former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke, former Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Arjuna Mahendran, Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) beneficiary owner Arjun Aloysius, PTL Chief Dealer Kasun Palisena, PTL Chairman Jeffrey Joseph Aloysius, Chitta Ranjan Hulugalle, Muthuraja Surendran, Ajahn Gardiye Punchihewa, Badugoda Hewa Indika Saman Kumara.

The Attorney General alleged that Perpetual Treasuries Limited used the Central Bank’s important undisclosed information to artificially alter the final outcome of the Treasury Bond auction, as it has had a huge impact on the overall national economy as a result of the subtle and systematic conduct of the offences related to this fraud and has caused injustice to other primary sellers in the Bond market and the PTL had acted cunningly and made a huge profit and conspired to cause a huge loss to the Government.

Thereafter, with the permission of Court, evidence was recorded under the direction of the Senior State Counsel appearing for the Prosecution.

Authorised Officer Kelum Priyantha appearing for the Immigration and Emigration Controller, testified that the third accused in the case, former Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran, had left Sri Lanka on October 13, 2017 last.

He had left the country from Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) for Singapore on a Singapore Airlines flight SQ 469 and had not returned to Sri Lanka since then, the official said.

According to the Immigration and Emigration Department, the ninth accused in the case, Ajahn Gardiye Punchihewa, had left the country from Bandaranaike International Airport for Malaysia on June 23, 2018 on a British passport.

The witness stated that he had left on a Singapore Airlines flight SQ 469 and that Arjun Mahendran and Ajahn Gardiye Punchihewa had not returned to the island yet.

Thereafter, CID Sergeant Priyantha Nanayakkara testified that he had gone to Mahendran’s house at Flower Road, Colombo 3 to hand over summons to the accused Arjun Mahendran and he was not at home.

The witness stated that Natasha Kanchana Anjali Mahendran who was present at the house made a statement stating that Arjun Mahendran was her father and that he was currently living in Singapore. The witness further stated that due to this he was unable to hand over the relevant summons.

The witness further stated that he had gone to the house at Independence Avenue, Colombo where he was staying to hand over the summons to the ninth accused in the case, Ajahn Gardiye Punchihewa. He was not present at the house and his mother Anoma Punchihewa was present.

The witness also stated that she had said that her son is currently residing in Malaysia.

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