Witness reveals crucial evidence | Daily News

Witness reveals crucial evidence

Following an order made by the Treasury Bond Commission, former PTL CEO Arjun Aloysius handed over all his communication devices including his mobile phone and the laptop to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)investigators at the Commission premises yesterday evening.

The order included Aloysius to surrender all personal communication devices used by him in the years 2015 to 2016 to the CID team which is attached to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating into the Treasury bond issue.

Aloysius’s lawyer said to the Commission that one of Aloysius’s Apple mobile phones was destroyed in Singapore.

Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda said that the Commission would like to know in detail how this “destruction” took place.

Kodagoda alleged that the so called “destruction” may have been an attempt to “suppress materials” relevant to the matter probed into.

The Bond Commission testimony yesterday revealed that Arjun Aloysius, the former CEO of Perpetual Treasuries had paid a lease amount of close to 8.7 million on behalf of the family of the then finance minister Ravi Karunanayake, for a fifth-floor super luxury condominium apartment at the Monarch residencies.

Giving evidence, the former owner of the apartment, a witness identified as Muthukudaarachchige Vinodini said that she met both Arjun Aloysius and the wife of Minister Karunanayake, Mela, at the “Penthouse apartment” 5PH2 in January 2016.

“Mela Karunanayake came to the penthouse accompanied by two body guards. We spoke casually with each other and I remember Mrs. Karunanayake saying it was difficult for politicians to find houses for rent. Then Mela took a telephone call,” Vinodini said.

DSG Yasantha Kodagoda, who was leading evidence, asked if the telephone conversation was heard by the witness.

“No, I was not in the vicinity when Mela took the telephone call. Following this conversation, Mela told me that a person known by both me and her will come to the Penthouse.” the witness said.

Vinodini said the ‘person’ who arrived at the apartment was PTL former CEO Arjun Aloysius.

“He was surprised and clearly not expecting to see me. We greeted each other and Aloysius asked me if the apartment will be rented with or without the furniture.” Vinodini earlier said that she knew Aloysius, first through her schooling at the Colombo International School and thereafter as a friend of a person she had a relationship with.

After inspecting the house, “Aloysius told me that he will rent out my apartment”, Vinodini said. She added that it was clear that the Karunanayake Family would be the residents.

Justice Jayawardena asked if Mela Karunanayake and Arjun Aloysius inspected the house together. The witness did not recall the specifics.

“When Aloysius told me that he would rent out the apartment, I found the arrangement to be a bit awkward, so I said I will think about it.” Vinodini said. The witness said she later came to a verbal agreement with Aloysious to rent out the apartment.

The DSG then asked the witness if it was clear to her that the house was to be rented on behalf of the Karunanayakes, and Vinodini replied in the affirmative.

“But I particularly told Arjun that I will rent the penthouse to him and I did not want more than one party involved in the transaction.” She said.

Explaining how the agreement was signed, Vinodini said she initially refused to enter into a lease with the company proposed by Aloysius’ lawyers because the company through which he was trying to lease the apartment did not have Aloysius’s name in the board of directors or shareholders.

She said that then, Aloysius reverted with another company, namely Walt & Rowe Associates, a direct subsidiary of his holding company Perpetual Capital Holding Limited.

The Director board of the company comprised Arjun Aloysius, his father Geoff Aloysious and another individual. She said Aloysius paid Rs. 7.3 million for the lease and an additional payment of Rs. 1.4 million in cash for the transaction.

Pointing out the method of transactions, DSG Kodagoda asked the witness to identify how the transactions took place.

Accordingly, marking documents, it was revealed that Perpetual Holding Limited had deposited a cheque to Walter & Rowe and the same amount was paid by Walter and Rowe in a cash cheque to the witness on February 8, 2016.

The witness the elaborated that following articles on certain websites on Aloysius renting out a “penthouse” on behalf of Former Finance Minister’s family, Arjun Aloysius gave her a telephone call.

“He called me and requested to destroy the lease agreement we signed for the penthouse. Aloysius told me that he got rid of the lease agreement in his possession.” Winodini said.

She also said “such a request coming from Aloysius was confusing” and “I decided not to destroy the document.” She submitted the original copy of the lease agreement of the “penthouse” to the Commission.

Justice P.S.Jayawardena while going through the document observed that the lease agreement quite correctly has been registered under the land registration department and said destroying the original lease agreement is purposeless. The witness said such a decision indeed was a “senseless” thing to do.

The witness thereafter said the Karunanayake family bought the “penthouse” a few months after the six-month lease was over, in late 2016, for Rs.165 million though a company named Global Transportation and Logistics Pvt Limited. Minister Karunanayake’s wife and daughter are Directors of the company.

Kodagoda asked Vinodini when two CID officers approached her on 22 March 2017, if she assumed that the officers knew about the transactions which had elaborated on. The witness said she understood that the CID was already aware of the complete transaction.

Kodagoda asked if anybody who is directly involved in the transaction she testified on contacted her or her family members. Vinodini responded that Minister Ravi Karunanayake had been in contact with her father recently, however she was not aware of the reason for these contacts. She had earlier stated that Minister Karunanayake and her father had maintained a close association over several years.

The witness who testified before the Commission was represented by lawyer Suren de Silva who requested that the Commission not divulge the identifying information of the witness or her family members or permit the media to do so.

The Commissioner Justice P.S. Jayawardena said the Commission cannot order media on their reporting but requested that media ethics should be observed when reporting the proceeding taking this request into account.

Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda pointed out that the witness has expressed a ‘fear of a life threat’ after providing statements to the CID and the Commission, and noted that it was thus appropriate for the commission to take appropriate protective measures. 

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