The Lanka Academic

MARCH 8, 2006 EST, USA
VOL. 6, NO. 336


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Massive fraud at Public Trustee Department
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, March 7, 2006, 11.12 p.m.. The Committee appointed to investigate activities of the Public Trustee Department has recommended the removal of the Public Trustee and his two Deputies for allegedly committing fraudulent activities with monies taken from Trusts that are currently under the Department's purview.

"Public Trustee N.S.A.S. Seneviratne, and the two Deputies F.R. Fernandopulle and Tilak Dewagiri Bandara are not fit to hold office any longer," the Report stated.

The three member committee headed by retired High Court judge and Ex Governor of North Central province G.M.S. Samaraweera citing an example of a fraudulent activity, disclosed that the Samarakoon Trust, which is a very wealthy Trust has instructed the Public Trustee to use the monies for the benefit of poor children in a certain rural village, the Department has however utilized the Trust's monies to send an Officer to India on a 'scholarship' at a cost of Rs. 300,000.

The Public Trustee is also alleged to have sold properties belonging to this Trust and utilized the money derived from this sale to purchase two vehicles for the personal use of certain Department officers.

"This is a clear violation, what is more, the vehicles have been registered under the Public Trustee Department. But this is the money of a trust, and at least even if they utilized the money for other purposes the vehicles should have been registered as an asset of the Samarakoon trust and not under the Department," Mr. Samaraweera, the Chairman of the Committee told the Weekend Standard.

Meanwhile, even the Department's Finance Director has been allegedly found guilty of cheating. He is reported to have sold the coconuts from these estates at higher prices but shown the Department documents containing a lower price.

"We have recommended for his transfer, now its upto the authorities to take action," Mr. Samaraweera said.

The committee which included two other members K.E.S. Nanayakkara and T. Piyasoma took approximately ten months to prepare this report. The report was completed on January 31, 2006, and a copy of it was handed over to President Mahinda Rajapakse on February 27, for the execution of their recommendations.

"When we first began investigations, it was obvious to us that the entire Department was in disarray, and the beneficiaries of the Trusts too had suffered owing to discrepancies, because we learnt that the money from these trusts have been utilized for various other purposes other than the beneficiaries," Mr. Samaraweera noted.

The Chairman also pointed out that the Public Trustee is a department that caters to the masses to create trusts for the benefit of beneficiaries. "But the beneficiaries have not been able to get the real benefits from their trusts, and so our main aim was to go into this aspect as to why the intended intension of the public trustee department was not functioning properly," he noted.

The Committee has also pointed out that the Public Trustee Department has not been audited since 1976 till 2000 by the Auditor General's Department.

The Samarakoon Trust clearly states that a sum of Rs. 10,000 should be given to the Director, Education Ceylon to be held and invested by him and out of the income thereof award at his discretion periodically scholarships called the 'Samarakoon scholarship' to deserving poor students born at Wewalle and Dumbawila. However these monies were instead utilized by the Department to send one of their officers to India.

"This is a clear example where the Department has violated the law," the Retired High Court Judge pointed out.

The Department has also failed to maintain many tea and coconut estates which belonged to several trusts, therefore the income derived from these estates have also crumbled over a period of time as the productions from them have decreased.

He also emphasized that from the time he along with his two other Committee members set foot upon their task; they had to undergo numerous obstacles. "And the Public Trustees Department officers never cooperated with us," he highlighted.

The committee has also recommended a complete 'cleaning up' of the entire department and the implementation of a new structure. The new structure will comprise a head called the executive president who should be appointed by the Constitutional Council under the recommendation of the President of Sri Lanka

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Published: Wed Mar 8 12:12:37 EST 2006

Muslims assail LTTE ‘plots’
Dawn, March 08, 2006, - 22:35 EDT. Sri Lanka’s chief Muslim party, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), has accused the LTTE of carrying out a ‘sinister operation’ to link Sri Lankan Muslims with extremist Muslim groups such as Al Qaeda and vehemently denied accusations by the Tamil Tigers that a Muslim Jihadi group was operating in the east of the country. Rauf Hakeem, the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), described as ‘preposterous’, the claims made by the LTTE who maintain that several killings of Muslims as well as Tamils were carried out by an emerging ‘Jihad’ movement. More...
Published: Wed Mar 8 22:33:59 EST 2006 Back to the top

Child soldiers escape from Tamil rebel camps, surrender to Sri Lankan police, navy
Associated Press, Wed March 8, 2006 07:45 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Three underage combatants pressed into service by the Tamil Tiger rebels escaped from the group and have surrendered to police and the navy in northeastern Sri Lanka - , the military said Wednesday. The rebels, who want autonomy for Sri Lanka - 's 3.2 million Tamil minority, are often accused of recruiting child soldiers.

UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, said the Tamil Tigers have recruited 5,368 child soldiers since 2002, when the rebels and the government signed a cease-fire.

The rebels say that many child soldiers lied about their age to join the insurgency and that they have released thousands of underage combatants.

The rebels began fighting in 1983, claiming discrimination by Sri Lanka - 's 14 million Sinhalese majority against the 3.2 million ethnic Tamil minority.

The 2002 cease-fire halted the fighting, but a recent spike in violence has threatened to plunge the country back into civil war.

Rebel and government negotiators plan to hold a second round of talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 19-21 to salvage the truce.

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Published: Wed Mar 8 08:47:34 EST 2006 Back to the top

Rajapakse to seek explanation from minister
GulfNews, March 8. Colombo: President Mahinda Rajapakse will seek an explanation from a Cabinet minister who had failed to adhere to instructions given during their visit to Geneva for peace talks... Back to the top

FOCUS: Sri Lanka 's peace prospects - the balance sheet+
Associated Press, Tue March 7, 2006 20:49 EST . COLOMBO, March 8 (Kyodo) _ Days after an ice-breaking Geneva meeting between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels rated by a Norwegian peace facilitator as having been ''above expectation,'' President Mahinda Rajapakse is walking a tricky tightrope between his country's yearning for peace and the terms on which nearly three decades of ethnic war can be ended... Back to the top

Time to stop S.Lanka rebels distorting elections-EU, March 08, 2006 - 08:15 EDT. COLOMBO, March 8 (Reuters) - A Tamil Tiger boycott that swayed last year's Sri Lankan presidential poll was a travesty and urgent measures are needed to stop the rebels compromising future polls, the chief EU election monitor said on Wednesday... Back to the top

Tamil Tiger negotiators return to Sri Lanka
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, March, 7th, 2006, 04:30 pm. UPDATED: A top Tamil Tiger rebel delegation returned to Sri Lanka on Tuesda y, 11 days after they held talks with the Sri Lankan government in Switzerland on how to save the island's fragile cease-fire, officials on both sides said... Back to the top

Sri Lanka, LTTE peace talks falter in Geneva, March 08, 2006 - 08:15 EDT. COLOMBO (IPS) - A flare-up of violence in Sri Lanka's volatile east and impatience with Norwegian mediation from pro-Sinhala political parties are threatening to derail peace negotiations between the government and Tamil Tiger representatives in Geneva... Back to the top

Sri Lanka presses for bigger slice of the Indian banking business, March 08, 2006 - 08:15 EDT. Mar. 08 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is pushing for greater access into the Indian banking industry when both countries meet for bilateral trade talks in May, industry sources said. Neighboring India recently streamlined capital requirements for banks entering into the country but there are still limitations on shareholder ownership and the number of branches that each bank can open... Back to the top

S.Lanka rebel peace team nabbed with gun catalogues, March 07, 2006, - 07:45 EDT. COLOMBO (Reuters) - Tamil Tiger rebels were delayed on their return from peace talks in Europe on Tuesday after airport customs officials in Sri Lanka found gun catalogues in their luggage and briefly confiscated them... Back to the top

EU chief election monitor calls for immediate electoral reforms in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Wed March 8, 2006 05:16 EST . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The European Union's chief election observer in Sri Lanka - on Wednesday called for immediate electoral reforms in the island nation, warning that failure to do so could result in a loss of EU goodwill... Back to the top

Navy arrests eight men with explosives and detonators in northern Sri Lanka , military says
Associated Press, Tue March 7, 2006 07:57 EST . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Sri Lanka's navy on Tuesday arrested eight men who were transporting explosives and detonators off the northern coast, the military said... Back to the top

LTTE ready to resist if war is thrust, March 7. Colombo, March 7: Voicing concern over "conflicting" signals coming from Sri Lankan government after the talks in Switzerland, Tamil Tiger rebels today warned that they were ready to resist if a war was "thrust" on them... Back to the top

Sri Lanka to be free from land mines by 2008, says government official
Associated Press, Tue March 7, 2006 04:26 EST . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - has cleared more than half of the country's estimated 1 million land mines, sown during two decades of civil war, and should be able to complete the task within two years, a government official said Tuesday... Back to the top

LTTE has lost faith in Geneva talks, March 7, 2006. The LTTE has said that the talks with the Sri Lankan government, held in Geneva on February 22 and 23, offer no hope of peace... Back to the top

Sri Lanka: Nationalisms at war, March 07, 2006, - 07:45 EDT. Nationalism is a double-edged sword. It is a benign yet potent force when it is expressed as a sense of belonging to a community of people defined by a territory and the history that goes with it... Back to the top

Lankan parties give `go ahead for talks with LTTE, March 07, 2006, - 07:57 EDT. Sri Lankan political parties Tuesday resolved to support President Mahinda Rajapakse in continuing the Norwegian-brokered peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels to find a lasting political solution to the ethnic conflict... Back to the top

Lankan Tamils slam Vaiko for joining Jaya, March 07, 2006, - 07:45 EDT. The Sri Lankan Tamil press has slammed Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetera Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko for joining the "anti-LTTE" J Jayalalithaa-led alliance to fight the May 8 Tamil Nadu assembly elections... Back to the top

Sri Lanka to buy over 800 new buses from India, March 07, 2006, - 07:45 EDT. Sri Lanka will buy more than 880 buses from India in six months for its public transport sector, Daily News reported Tuesday... Back to the top

Links with Sri Lanka grow, March 07, 2006, - 07:50 EDT. BUSINESS links between South Australia and Sri Lanka have strengthened, with several of the nation's top politicians visiting SA... Back to the top

CEAT strikes new wage pact in Sri Lanka
com, March 07, 2006, - 07:45 EDT. Colombo: Indian joint venture associate CEAT Pvt Ltd has struck a three-year Rs 1.75 crore wage deal with its employees under a new collective agreement to head off work stoppages, a top official said... Back to the top

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