By Lahiru Pothmulla
A financial misappropriation amounting to Rs.11 billion had taken place at the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) during 2016 to 2019, a committee appointed to probe financial irregularities at the CCF said in its report yesterday.
The three-member committee appointed by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Buddha Sasana and Cultural Affairs Minister, handed over its report to the Prime Minister yesterday.
The committee comprising retired High Court Judge Gamini Sarath Edirisinghe, former cabinet ministry Secretary Gotabaya Jayaratne and Attorney-at-Law Harigupta Rohanadeera was appointed to probe financial irregularities and misappropriation that took place at the CCF from 2016 to 2019.
The Prime Minister’s Media Division quoting the committee report said financial misappropriation amounting to Rs.11,059 million had taken place at various occasions.
“A sum of Rs.2,608 million lost when withdrawing fixed deposit funds without proper approval, Rs.2,316 million spent for various affairs without making contributions to the Archaeological Trust, Rs. 8 million lost when handing over Ape Gama project property and Rs.2,316 million distributed as cultural donations and contributions without proper approval are among the total Rs.11,059 million lost at the CCF,” the report said. It also said Rs.400 million has been released from the savings account during the previous presidential election campaign without approval. “Funds from the dollar account had also been released illegally,” it said. The committee further revealed that the CCF had opened and maintained 25 current accounts without the approval of the Treasury and purchased equipment violating fiscal policies among other irregularities.
It further said a director board meeting has been called on November 15 last year to get the approval for all improper expenses made in 2019.
“Only five members have attended the meeting but the signatures of other members have also been obtained. There are issues about the legality of this director board meeting and it is recommended to confirm the signatures of the members,” it said.
The committee recommended that legal action be taken against those responsible over the incidents of financial and administrative appropriations that took place at the CCF.