A businessman who had allegedly misappropriated Rs.191,056 million of public funds at Lanka Electricity Company (Private) Limited (LECO) was remanded till February 15 by the Colombo Magistrate Court yesterday.
The CID alleged that the suspect Nandana Wickramasinghe had been directly involved in a transaction pertaining to LECO in purchasing houses and properties. The CID officer told Court that the suspect had been involved in the whole transaction from beginning to end and thereby misappropriated public funds to the tune of Rs.191,056 million.
The CID officer further informed court that the written documents to prove how the suspect involvement in the incident were with their possession and further charged that he had attempted to avoid the CID from carrying out investigations over the incident.
Counsel Wasantha Batagoda appearing on behalf of the suspect informed court that his client was a businessman but not an employee of the LECO. He denied the allegation made by the CID that he avoided the CID investigations. He further stated that his client had made statements to the Bribery Commission regarding the transaction pertaining to LECO in purchasing a house, property and 43 perches.
The counsel further stated that owing to severe pressure exercised by the former LECO chairman his client had not disclosed the truth in the statement. However, the counsel said that later in September 2011 his client sought an opportunity from the CID to make a full disclosure and accordingly the CID granted an opportunity for him to make a full disclosure.
The counsel further maintained that the board of directors had done this transaction and that his client had been involved in this business transaction following their approval and recommendations. Finally, he moved court that his client be released on bail.
Magistrate Kanishka Wijeratne observed that he would consider the seriousness of the offence as it is an incident of misappropriating a huge amount of public funds. Having considered both parties arguments, the Magistrate ordered that the suspect be remanded till February 15.
In this case, Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy Mr. M.M.C. Ferdinando had lodged a written complaint with the CID regarding an alleged misappropriation valued at Rs.260 million on November 24, 2010. In the complaint he had alleged that several properties purchased by LECO had incurred losses to the tune of Rs.260 million. The CID told court that they had already recorded statements from several witnesses in this regard.
The court also heard that several employees of LECO had also complained to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption about the alleged misappropriation of funds. According to the complaint, the former chairman of the LECO and its administrative officials were alleged to have defrauded monies belonging to Lanka Electricity Company (Private) Limited. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)