(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Special High Court in the first case it tried today granted bail to the suspects who include former President’s Chief of Staff Gamini Senarath and three other top officials.
The case was taken up before the three-member bench of High Court Justices Sampath Wijeratne, Sampath Abeykoon and Champa Janaki Rajaratna.
Each suspect was released on a cash bail of Rs. 100,000 and a two personal sureties of Rs. 1 million each. The suspects were also ordered to hand over their passports to the court.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Chief of Staff Gamini Senarath along with former Executive Director of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) Piyadasa Kudabalage, Director General of the Samurdhi Development Department Neil Bandara Hapuhinna and Lasantha Bandara had been charged with criminal misuse of public funds amounting to 500 million rupees under the Public Property Act, Penal Code, and Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige, appearing on behalf of the Attorney General, said that he will take steps to hand over the relevant documents of the case to the defendants and requested time.
The High Court bench accordingly, postponed the case until September 19 and said that the date of the hearing will be fixed on that day.
Chairman of the three-member High Court Bench, Justice Sampath Abeykoon said that the case would be heard on a daily basis. He further said that the Special High Court was established for a specific purpose and the judges also have to work only within that legal framework.
This is the first case to be called before the three-member special bench appointed to hear case of serious financial fraud. The four defendants appeared before the three-member bench today.
The Attorney General has filed a charge sheet with 21 counts of fraud and misuse of public property against the defendants. He has presented 92 documents as production items and 63 individuals have been named as witnesses in the case.
The defendants are accused of illegally investing Rs. 500 million of public funds which had been given by Litro Gas Company to Canwill Holdings Ltd. at Helanco Hotels and Spa.
Senarath, Kudabalage, and Hapuhinna are founding directors of Sino Lanka Hotels & Spa Private Limited formed in 2011 with the funds from Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, Litro Gas Lanka and the Employees Provident Fund.
The three accused have formed another company called Canwill Holdings Ltd and with the cabinet approval the three state institutions invested Rs. 18.5 billion in the new company of which the three accused were also directors.
However, they have formed another company called Helanko Hotels & Spa without cabinet approval and transferred Rs. 4 billion from the Canwill Holdings. Helanko Hotels & Spa later launched the Hyatt Regency project in Hambantota at a cost of Rs. 312.2 million without cabinet approval.