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Customs Case Against de Facto CJ Mohan Pieris Before HR Commission Geneva

Customs Case Against de Facto CJ Mohan Pieris Before HR Commission Geneva

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Published by: Thavam on Oct 09, 2013
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10/09/2013

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Peries at UNHR A fraud case against Sri Lanka’s de facto Chief Justice and former Attorney General MohanPieris has been taken to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva seeking proper inquiry since justice has been denied by the Sri Lankan judiciary now run by Pieris. Customs Officer, T R Ratnasiri who was denied an opportunity to support his fundamental rights petition(SCFR/246/2010 – the case that made very serious accusations against the AG Mohan Peirisand Colombo Dockyard Ltd for criminal misappropriation of public funds of 619 rupees) to theSupreme Court by a Bench selected by the de facto CJMohan Pierishas petitioned the HumanRights Commission in Geneva.Sri Lanka’s de facto Chief Justice who was illegally appointed after the removal of his predecessor Shirani Bandaranayake is the main Respondent in the Case. One of the charges in a14 point charge sheet brought to accuse Chief JusticeShirani Bandaranayake by the rulingRajapaksa regime that she had personal prejudice and stakes in the cases before her at SupremeCourt.The Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that the Human Rights Commission has formallyacknowledged this Petition for proper investigation and inquiry and notified the Petitioner’scounsel of their decision.In the Human Rights action Ratnasiri filed before the Supreme Court, the Customs Officer hadchallenged the gross misconduct and dishonesty of the Respondent Mohan Peiris (cited him inhis personal capacity) for abusing the office of the Attorney General to withdraw a case filed bythe Director General of Customs filed before the Supreme Court [SC/SLA/100/2009].The case was about the wilful misappropriation of public funds to the tune of over Rs. 619million by the Colombo Dockyard Ltd. The Petitioner alleges that the AG Mohan Peiris haddeliberately disregarded the clear instructions given by the Director General of Customs againstthe withdrawal of the said case and withdrew the case. Written instructions were provided bythe Director General of Customs to proceed with the case.
 
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
 
619 million-revenue fraud committed by the Colombo Dockyard LtdIn hisPetition to the Human Rights Commissionthe Petitioner states that he commenced theinvestigation into a major fraud and completed it on 12th October 2001. And the investigationrevealed that the Colombo Dockyard Ltd had sold 21 marine craft in the local market,manufactured out of raw material imported tax free, meant only for the export bound products.The Petitioner states further that his investigation further revealed that the Colombo DockyardLtd had collected 619 million rupees of the tax component from the buyers (Sri Lanka PortsAuthority and the Sri Lanka Navy) and then misappropriated the entire tax component, withoutremitting the same to the Customs.The Petitioner further states that whilst the investigation was being conducted by him ColomboDockyard Ltd, in an act of conceding guilt, had deposited a sum of over 94 million rupees intwo instalments i.e. on 25th July 2001 and 15th August 2001 with Customs, to be appliedagainst as a part of the total revenue element misappropriated by it.Dismal Custom Inquiry facilitates the Dockyard CompanyThe Petitioner states that on 07th February 2002 a formal Customs Inquiry (P/Misc/93/2000)into the fraud was commenced by the Deputy Director of Customs, Thilak Perera, but it wasnever heard with a view to conduct a fair inquiry into the revenue defrauded by the ColomboDockyard Ltd and it was effectively an inquiry conducted into absolve the DockyardCompany from the penal sanctions and it was dragged on for two years with no decision beingtaken by the inquiry officer.The Petitioner states that then on 05th March 2004, the then DGC Sarath Jayathilake,disregarding the written objections raised by the Petitioner on 14th February 2004, granted aGeneral Tax Amnesty to Dockyard Ltd, relieving it from all the tax liabilities which thePetitioner challenged before the Court of Appeal (Case No: CA/1397/2004) on 25th June 2004to protect public interest that DGC had openly undermined.The Petitioner states that the further to this Court action, the, on 09th February 2005 theAttorney General gave an undertaking that the Customs Inquiry (P/Misc/93/2000) would beresumed and completed ‘as expeditiously as possible’ but the AG never honour the saidundertaking given to the Court.The Petitioner states that thereafter on 29th August 2005, the Dockyard Ltd filed an action(Case No: CA/1413/2005) in the Court of Appeal against the continuation of the Customsinquiry. The said action was based on the premise that the Customs had no authority to proceedwith the inquiry.The Petitioner states that after a period of over 4 years of filing this action, the Court of Appealon 27th April 2009, issued a Writ of Prohibition, against the continuation of the Customsinquiry for non-payment of ‘other levies’ (except the Customs duty defrauded by the DockyardLtd. The said judgement also contained a reference that even the Customs duty ‘could berecovered’ under Section 18A of the Customs Ordinance, a relief the CDL had not even prayedfor. The Author states that this provision is provided in the Customs Ordinance “only for therecovery of duties ‘short levied’ and not to invoke in the cases where the revenue is wilfullydefrauded”. Obviously it was a case of misrepresentation of facts to the court.The Petitioner states that therefore, on 13th May 2009, the then DGC, urged the then AttorneyGeneral, Mohan Peiris, to appeal against the said Court ruling [CA/1413/2005] and whenMohan Peiris failed to initiate any action on the matter, the then Solicitor General, PriyasathDep, (now a Judge in the Supreme Court), further to representations made to him by the
 
Petitioner and the officers of the Customs Legal Affairs Directorate, filed action[SC/SLA/100/2009] before the Supreme Court on 05th June 2009, challenging the Court of Appeal order.The Petitioner states that the then Attorney General Mohan Peiris failed to take any tangibleaction to proceed with the said appeal [SC/SLA/100/2009] as well, and then his inaction wasexposed by ‘Sunday Leader’ on 06th September 2009. It was alleged that Mohan Peiris wasabusing the office of the Attorney General to settle this case where public funds of 619 millionwas at stake. [In fact in the year 2001 when Mohan Peiris was in the private bar he had beenreported to the then Chief Justice by the then Director General of Customs on 16th February2001 for abuse of office, dishonesty and gross professional misconduct].The Petitioner states that in this backdrop, on 04th November 2009, a meeting was held at theoffice of the Attorney General, Mohan Peiris, which was attended by the Solicitor General,Priyasath Dep Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Sanjay Rajarathnam, DGC, Director LegalAffairs of Customs, and the Author. And at the said meeting, the Attorney General MohanPeiris advised the DGC to continue with the Customs inquiry with a guarantee given to defendthe Custom’s right to proceed with the Inquiry against the Dockyard Ltd. Expressing hisopinion on the references made in the Court of Appeal Judgement (CA/1413/2005) regardingthe ‘recovery of Customs duty under Section 18A’, he said that it was a mere obiter, (a judicialcomment whilst delivering a judicial opinion but one that is unnecessary to the decision of thecase and therefore not precedential).Then, after a lapse of six months, on 10th May 2010, the Attorney General, Mohan Peiris, did aU-turn and informed the DGC that he would withdraw the Appeal [SC/SLA/100/2009] that had been fixed for support on 30th Aug 2010 and advised the DGC to recover the Customs levies(misappropriated by the CDL) under Section 18A of the Customs Ordinance, which was meantonly for recovery of Customs duty ‘short levied’.The Petitioner states that in the meantime, the DGC Sarath Jayathilake was removed from theoffice with effect from 24th May 2010 and replaced by Mrs Sudharma Karunarathna. The newDGC, after having observed that the Attorney General had expressed a completelycontradictory opinion on the matter on 04th Nov 2009, took a firm stand and on 03rd August2010, informed the Attorney General, that ‘considering the colossal revenue loss involving inthe case’ it was inappropriate to withdraw the case.The Petitioner states that thereafter, on 16th August 2010, the DGC was summoned for ameeting to the office of the P B Jayasundara, the Secretary to the Finance Ministry (ST), whichwas also attended by the senior officers of the Customs Legal Affairs Unit (LAU). At the saidmeeting the ST ordered the DGC to follow the advice given by the Attorney General, MohanPeiris, [regarding the Supreme Court action filed against the CDL], yet refrained fromconfirming his order in writing. Then the officers (Lawyers) of the Customs LAU informed theST that there were several important points of law to be argued in the case, which would have adirect impact in the collection and protection of the Government Revenue. The ST had simplyignored their submissions and warned them either to follow his orders or to leave the Customsand join the private bar. The Petitioner also informed the Human Rights Committee that P BJayasundara, the ST, is a person convicted for cheating by the Supreme Court in the caseSCFR/209/2007 where he had pleaded guilty and paid a fine of Rs. 500,000.00 on 21st July2008 and has been held by the Supreme Court that P B Jayasundara should not take up any public office in the Government of Sri Lanka.

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