Transparency International Sri Lanka urges Speaker to disclose forensic audits to public, MPs

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - Transparency International Sri Lanka urges Speaker to disclose forensic audits on the Central Bank bond scams, to the public. The Attorney General recently advised the Speaker against releasing the report to the parliament.

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has urged the Speaker to disclose to the public and members of Parliament, the contents of the forensic audits of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL). The reports were to be tabled at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and debated during the previous session of parliament; however TISL is concerned by the decision of the Attorney General to advise the Speaker against circulating the report openly amongst MPs.  

TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere said: "The dual role of the Attorney General as both legal adviser to the government and public prosecutor raises a potential conflict of interest as a result of a design flaw in the institutional mandate of the Attorney General’s Department. Notwithstanding the bona fides of officials in the department, in the case of the release of the forensic audit reports, it is natural for the public to question the role of the Attorney General and whether government interest aligns with the public interest."

TISL calls on the Speaker to make Parliament’s constitutional duty as overseer of public finance the prime consideration in his determination on the form in which the forensic audit reports will be disclosed.  

Obeyesekere added "the scope of these forensic audits is unprecedented and can provide a cornerstone for addressing long standing mismanagement within public finance. Having spent Rs.900mn of taxpayer money to produce these reports and being mindful of the fact that public scrutiny is a key driver of accountability, the reports should be made available to the public and their elected representatives. The public are the victims of any wrongdoing that may be brought to light by these forensic audits".

The forensic audits were commissioned by the Monetary Board of the Central Bank. The terms of reference were developed in consultation with the Auditor General and the Attorney General, and were carried out as five assignments by globally recognised

audit firms encompassing the following subjects -

1. Issuance of Treasury Bonds during the period from 01 January 2002 to 28 February 2015 by the Public Debt Department

2. Primary and secondary market transactions of the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) involving Treasury Bonds during the period from 01 January 2002 to 28 February 2015

3. Transactions of the EPF from 01 January 1998 to 31 December 2017 in listed and unlisted shares  

4. Issuance of Treasury Bonds and funds received to the General Treasury during the period from 01 February 2015 to 31 March 2016 by the Public Debt Department

5. Conduct of the supervisory and regulatory role of (i) the Superintendent of Public Debt and (ii) the Director for Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions, for selected Primary Dealers from 01 January 2009 to 31 December 2017.

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