Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoga PC making a special statement on behalf of the AG Department's Counsel assisting the PCoI, at the very onset of yesterday’s proceedings said they ‘deplored’ the comment made by Arjun Mahendran's Counsel Romesh de Silva PC insinuating that they were wasting tax payer’s money by moving for an adjournment of the proceedings.
“We deplore the comment made by Mr. Romesh De Silva, remaining mindful of the fact that, he may have been prompted to say what he said on the instructions of his client and fees paid by him,” he said reading the statement.
His full statement is as follows:
On September 20, 2017, following Senior Additional Solicitor General Dappula De Livera, PC, having made an application for a brief adjournment of proceedings prior to commencing the examination of Mr. Arjuna Mahendran, while initially objecting to the application and later diluting that submission, President’s Counsel Romesh De Silva made reference to the team of counsel from the Attorney General’s Department assisting the Commission, participating at the Commission “at the tax payers’ expense”. Ostensibly, Mr. De Silva made such a reference following instructions to do so from his client Mr. Arjuna Mahendran, and having received fees to make such an utterance.
In view of the insinuation made against officers of the Attorney General’s Department assisting this Commission, that we are wasting tax payers’ money by moving for an adjournment of proceedings, it has now become necessary to place on record the manner in which the ten of us are utilizing tax payers’ money. We are compelled to make this statement due to a couple of other reasons as well, including an allegation that was made some time ago by another person, that officers of the Attorney General’s Department are working at this Commission in the manner we do, in anticipation of promotions.
Indeed we are conscious of the need to ensure that we as well as all other public functionaries who exist on public funds which includes money contributed by tax payers, perform our duties in a conscientious and transparent manner, and do not engage in any conduct that would amount to fraudulent misappropriation of public funds or an extravagant use thereof. We are also mindful of the need to ensure that, public funds are used in the national interest and in the best interests of the public.
In fact, as public servants who are assisting this Commission in addition to most of our routine duties and responsibilities, we are entitled in terms of applicable circulars to receive an additional monthly allowance. However, all of us took a decision way back in March this year, to refrain from collecting that allowance to which we are entitled to. We believe that, such voluntary service to the nation is appropriate, particularly when assisting a Commission of Inquiry, which in our view is investigating and inquiring into what has now been revealed to be in our view, one of the largest financial scams, if not the largest financial scam, independent Sri Lanka has ever been victim to.
We have served this Commission to the best of our ability, and we believe that our services have resulted in this Commission unearthing shockingly wrongful, illegal and massively fraudulent activities which have resulted in a loss to the exchequer of this country of unprecedented magnitude.
We wish to emphasize that our conduct throughout the inquiry proceedings of this Commission and in the conduct of investigations, have been guided by our resolve to assist this Commission to unearth the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and in national and public interest. It is a time consuming process, which we are engaging in.
We also wish to reiterate that, the application for a postponement of the examination of Mr. Arjun Mahendran was made due to reasons beyond our control, in order to get fully prepared, and not for the purpose of enjoying luxuries at the expense of tax payers.
We believe that, Your Honours, the Honourable Commissioners who have most judiciously being hearing and considering the evidence led, those who have observed these proceedings objectively and on a daily basis, and the general public who have had the benefit of detailed reporting of these proceedings by the media, will finally judge us and determine whether we have wasted even a rupee of the tax payers’ money.
Thus, we wish to deplore the comment made by Mr. Romesh De Silva, remaining mindful of the fact that, he may have been prompted to say what he said on instructions, and fees paid by his client. (Shehan Chamika Silva)