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
"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
"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
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
"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