In an interesting twist to the investigations into the alleged scamming of the monies in the country’s biggest pension fund, the Central Bank this week said it would appoint an external inquiry panel headed by an ex-judge to probe the allegations levelled against the bank’s own officers before handing over the case to the law enforcement officers.
Responding to a leaked investigation report, which revealed a staggering Rs.9.5 billion loss to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) during 2015 and 2016 caused due to an alleged bond scam, the Central Bank Governor, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy said the bank had already initiated action based on the initial findings.
However, he said before penalising any alleged offenders, who were alleged to have been involved in the questionable transactions, the due process must be followed.
“On the EPF internal investigation, we have already initiated action because there were certain findings in that report but the internal team that conducted that investigation found certain transactions which had to be looked into further.
Before we do anything, we have to give the officers who were involved in those transactions a chance to explain to give their side of the story. That is natural justice and due process. So, that’s what we are doing now”, Dr. Coomaraswamy told the media early this week.
In March, a special investigation team led by Assistant Governor Kumudhini Saravanamuttu of the Central Bank have officially brought to the notice of the Monetary Board a scam, which caused a loss of Rs.9.5 billion to the EPF, carried out by two officials of the Central Bank who have allegedly connived and carried out deals with a controversial primary dealer.
According to sources, although tough disciplinary action have been taken by two Monetary Board members when they met on March 23 against the two officers, the Treasury Secretary, Dr. R. H. S. Samaratunga and Mano Ramanathan, another board member have been non-committal while the Governor had wanted to soft-peddle the issue fearing further controversy.
However, there will be a second phase of the investigation in relation to the alleged EPF scam where a senior Central Bank official, preferably an Assistant Governor, would be talking to these officials associated with the transactions before his report is submitted to the Monetary Board, after which only an external inquiry panel would be appointed.
“The second phase is to have a senior officer of the Central Bank, an Assistant Governor; he will talk to all the officers who were associated with the transactions, which were identified in the investigation report.,” Dr. Coomaraswamy said.
However, it is uncertain why another internal inquiry is required when an internal investigation has already identified who and how the scam had been committed while action have also been taken against the alleged perpetrators.
“Then, his report, the Monetary Board will give to an external inquiry panel who can then look in to those matters. So, we have initiated action but we have to have a process, which is fair by everybody.
We have to get an ex-judge and possibly somebody with an accountancy background as well, somebody from outside the bank. This will be appointed by the Monetary Board”, Dr. Coomaraswamy added.