No clue on 17 cases investigated during former SEC Chief’s tenure
Investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as to what happened to seventeen previous cases market manipulation by errant stock market traders including in the shares of Colombo Land and Development PLC and Citrus Leisure Plc (formerly known as Hotel Reefcomber Plc) is shrouded in a cloud of darkness with its top brass dodging questions.
The former chairman of the SEC, Thilak Karunaratne in a report submitted to the parliamentary watchdog, Committee of Pubic Enterprises Chairman, DEW Gunasekera on the day of his resignation dated August 17, 2012 had stated that there were 17 pending cases being investigated by the SEC. However, when asked about the progress of these investigations, the Chairman of the SEC, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa passed the buck to his Director of Investigations, Dhammika Perera.
The latter told ‘The Nation’ that the SEC was not liable to speak to the media on pending investigations. “If there had been an investigation it would appear on our web,” Perera said.
However, when The Nation checked the website according to instructions received by the Head of Investigations, information relating to the 17 cases of investigation was not found.
On the website, the link of ‘Enforcement Action’ which took us to the cases of Insider Dealing, Market Manipulation and Front running had information of names of individuals related to offences but no other detail were given for example even the Date action was taken.
However, the former chairperson of the SEC, Ms. Indrani Sugathadasa when asked for her comments whether the SEC was not liable to speak on investigations it handled, she was of the strong opinion that the SEC was bound to do so.
“If there is nothing to hide we should not fear to speak to the media. If I am doing the right thing and nothing to hide I would have spoken to the media,” she said.
Meanwhile, when asked about the progress incumbent SEC Chairman, Dr. Godahewa when asked about the progress of investigations into Colombo Land and Development PLC of which incidentally, of which the SEC chairman is still the Chairman, he said, “It has nothing to do with the company. It refers to the front running of shares in this company by individuals and not the company. As to the investigations into that I don’t handle it. Investigations are handled by the Director Investigations, Dhammika Perera,” he responded.
Meanwhile, another former SEC chairman, who wished to stay anonymous, said “there is a huge conflict of interest in respect of certain investigations because some people of authority in the SEC happened to be executives of these companies”.
He noted that the multimillion rupee question is whether these investigations have in fact been swept under the carpet.