TISL Hails Landmark Conviction of Former President’s Chief of Staff

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) is encouraged by the convictions handed down by the Special High Court Trial-at-Bar, which sentenced the former President’s Chief of Staff I.H.K. Mahanama and the former Chairman of the State Timber Corporation P. Dissanayaka to 20 years and 12 years rigorous imprisonment respectively. Both men were found guilty of soliciting a bribe of Rs.100 million and accepting an advance payment of Rs. 20 million from an Indian businessman, who was the complainant in this case.

TISL applauds the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) for the swift proactive measures taken to carry out the sting operation, complete investigations and bring the case before court.

TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere said, “An essential ingredient for successful prosecutions is non-interference in the work of investigators, who must be kept protected from political vendettas. The fact that CIABOC is willing to undertake sting operations, irrespective of the position of the perpetrator, is encouraging and we hope that this will establish a strong precedent for the future.”

Obeyesekere added, “It is also important that clarity is provided to the public on why specific cases are selected to be tried through the expedited Special High Court, whilst others can take the slow track criminal proceedings which on average take 10.5 years to conclude. Public confidence in the process is imperative to the success of these measures”.

The conviction of the former Chairman of the State Timber Corporation also highlights the significant corruption risks within state owned enterprises (SOEs) and underscores the need for professionalism within SOE management. Whilst steps have been proposed in the recent past to formalize appointments to SOEs, ensuring public access to information on SOE Boards and management, and their interlinkages, will have an important deterrent effect. To this end TISL earlier this year launched www.peps.lk the country’s first public register of politically exposed persons which is updated periodically.

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