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Nation building efforts launched under your leadership effectively derailed by the dishonest ST PB Jayasundara

 Petition to the President Mahinda Rajapaksa

by W.M.R.P. Wijekoon
General Secretary, Sri Lanka Independent Government Trade Union Organisation,Sri Lanka Customs

(November 19, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sir, in response to your clarion call to all Lankan professionals living abroad to return and serve the motherland, we understand that Mr N Kodituwakku, the former head of the Customs Revenue Task Force who is now a solicitor practicing in the UK, returned to Sri Lanka further to a telephone interview had with you. It is known fact in the Customs circles that Mr Kodituwakku was a unique character, and highly regarded for his uncompromising stance, integrity and loyalty in the protection of the government revenue.

We are aware that he had been offered an interview with you wherein Mr Kodituwakku had briefed you about the circumstances under which he had left the country in September 2001 when Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunaga held the office of the President and Dr PB Jayasundara held the office of the ST. The life threatening circumstances under which Mr Kodituwakku left the country was vividly presented by a group of MPs on 09th October 2010, in the Parliament, just two weeks after his exit, wherein a serious allegations were levelled against the President Chandrika Kumaratunga, ST PB Jayasundara and the then DGC for betraying Mr Kodituwakku and forcing him to leave under death threats [a copy of the relevant proceedings enclosed].

We are aware that sometime after been left the country, Mr Kodituwakku had requested overseas leave, which had been refused by the then DGC Mr Sarath Jayathilake although the same DGC had allowed similar requests for overseas leave by some other officers made from abroad. We noted that in Kodituwakku’s case the DGC Mr Jayathilake had exploited the situation to his advantage and issued a vacation of post notice on Mr Kodituwakku, effectively bringing an end to his unparalleled record in the Customs Service.

We are aware that further to the interview he had at the temple trees, you had immediately directed the ST Dr PB Jayasundara to take required steps to ensure resumption of duties by Mr Kodituwakku and directed Mr Kodituwakku to meet the ST, who is however, ill-disposed towards Mr Kodituwakku for the reasons set out below.

We are aware that Dr PB Jayasundara did not want to allow Mr Kodituwakku to resume duties despite your recommendations and he only offered Mr Kodituwakku retirement from the public service as had already recommended by the formed DGC Sarath Jayathilake, further to Mr Kodituwakku’s previous appeal to the PSC, seeking permission to resume duties.

Since then Mr Kodituwakku had made several attempts to have an appointment with you and having all such attempts, he had now returned to his adopted country [the UK] and dispatched a letter to you [with copies sent to the Sri Lanka Customs Trade Union] explaining reasons as to why ST Dr PB Jayasundara declined to comply with your directive and disallowed his offer to resume duties in the Customs.

In order to make our submissions plain and clear we quote the following extracts taken from his letter addressed to you dated 13th Nov 2010.

“…However, since I returned to Sri Lanka honouring your call, I believe that it is my duty to brief you as to why the ST PB Jayasundara declined to comply with your directions. I thought it is my duty keep you informed of the relevant facts in this regard, because I perceive that you may disagree with ST’s prejudicial attitude against me...”


“… In my capacity as a Customs Inquiry officer I have found that in number of fraud inquires the conduct of ST Dr Jayasundara was unacceptable and amounted to abuse of office of the ST. I have set out below two cases, which I dealt with where I found Dr Jayasundara’s conduct was entirely unbecoming of a public officer holding a high office in the Executive…”

Case 1

“… In this case the Koggala Beach Hotel was charged for a fraudulent transaction where the company had sold 4 duty free permits issued to import luxury vehicles to be used in the Tourist Industry. The company had abused the privilege and had sold all four permits [3 to the Finance Company and 1 to Arjuna Ranatunga] to import the vehicles defrauding the government revenue. This case was presented before me and I dealt the General Manager, Koggala Beach Hotel and the Finance Company as required by law imposing a fine of over 7 million rupees for knowingly concerned in defrauding the government revenue...”


“… However, when the hearing of Ranatunga case [Case No:CRTF/04/2001] was due, as a result of direct interference of the Reggie Ranatuga, then a Cabinet Minister, and the President Chandrika Kumaratunga I was subjected to tremendous pressure by the ST PB Jayasundara through the then DGC Mr Janak Guranrathne. I was ordered to abandon the inquiry proceedings against Ranatunga altogether. I had to decline their unlawful directive as I was under duty to observe the rule of law. In fact it was my duty to treat every person charged before me equally, disregarding unlawful interferences…”


“… In this case, the pressure brought on me was such that I had to conduct the said inquiry having completely lost the pleasure of the ST Dr PB Jayasundara and the DGC Mr Gunarathne for defying their unlawful orders. Yet, I had the required will and firmness to meet out justice as required by law and to impose over four million rupees [Rs 4,198,255.00] on Ranatunga, which was determined on the value of the vehicle imported against the duty free permit and the amount of revenue defrauded by the unlawful importation of the luxury Benz car [Reg 65-3583] defrauding the government revenue...”


“… The said inquiry was held on 06th Sep 2001 and due to unprecedented pressure and threats to my life posed by those who were concerned in the said fraud I had to leave the country with my family just two weeks after finding Ranatunga in the wrong. It was a disgraceful act on the part of the ST and the President that after I had left the country, the inquiry record was called at the Treasury and the penalty imposed at the inquiry was nullified by abusing the Executive Power …”

Case 2

“… This particular case refers to the abuse of innocent customers by leading ‘renowned’ business enterprises in Sri Lanka who import inferior and substandard consumer goods - some electrical appliances imported by them were found to have been with heath and safety risks - from third world nations. These goods were imported at a very nominal value declared to Customs and cleared on payment of a nominal duty…”


“… These goods were later sold in the open market to the innocent buyers at an exorbitant price under the pretext those goods were original products imported from manufactures in Japan and in some cases from Europe. Trade description of these goods, such as the brand names and the country of origin displayed in the product and the packing were manifestly false. The wrongful act committed by the so-called renowned business establishments was amount to violation of the provisions of the Code of Intellectual Property Act and hence chargeable under the provisions of the Customs Law. Series of such cases were presented before me by the officers of the Customs Revenue Task Force, which were dealt with according to law, with penalties and forfeitures imposed on the wrongdoers involved …”


“… The powerful business enterprises involved were clearly displeased with the firm stand taken against them by me. Yet they refused to challenge the orders made against them in the Court of law. Instead they lobbied against me to the ST Dr Jayasundara. The ST, as customary, took the side of the wrongdoers and resorted to summon me at the meeting held at the Treasury, at which all affected business community were also present. At the said meeting, despite the fact I submitted to him that the right forum to decide the issues raised would be the Court of Law, the ST Dr Jayasundara abusing his authority harassed me in the presence of the powerful business community. The matter did not end there. The ST had the audacity to direct the DGC to refund all the penalties recovered from the wrongdoers who were found guilty for the violation of the provisions of the Code of Intellectual Property Act…”


“… Based on the said evidence I can vouch that ST, Dr Jayasundara is a dishonest official whose only concern was to facilitate the fraudster elements, some time under the pretext of ignorance of the law and procedure. He was always totally indifferent with the difficult role the Customs Inquiring officers played under trying circumstances, particularly in cases where powerful and influential fraudster elements involved. Under the Customs Law, inquiry proceeding conducted by the inquiry officers are deemed judicial and they are under duty to observe rule of law, rules of evidence and to comply with the principals of natural justice.


I must mention that in the two cases referred to above my relations with the ST, Dr Jayasundara became very sour as I had refused to compromise with his unlawful orders given to protect the interests of the fraudster elements...”


“… Now, I understand that justice had been done for the ST Dr Jayasundara by the Supreme Court and he had been found guilty for his fraudulent conduct and abusing his office, with a heavy fine of Rs 500,000.00 imposed on him and prohibition from taking any appointment in the Public Service...”

Public confidence in the Customs severely damaged

There are so many other cases where the ST Dr Jayasunara had been found concerned in defending fraudster elements. The Colombo Dockyard revenue fraud case where the public funds to the tune of over 619 million rupees had been misappropriated by the Colombo Dockyard Company is the best example. In this case, he directed the DGC not to enforce the penal sanctions provided by the Customs Ordinance against the Dockyard Ltd. The ST’s improper action that opened floodgates to government revenue fraudsters is now challenged before the Supreme Court [SC/536/2010] where he is cited as the main Respondent in the case.

Surreptitious actions to immune from liability

Sir, we are fully aware of the drastic actions being designed by the ST Dr Jayasundara against the public interests but to protect the interests of high profile organised fraudsters (including the Colombo Dockyard) who are responsible for robbing billions of public funds. These actions, surreptitiously designed by the ST, include across the board general amnesty to all high profile organised fraudster elements and would invariably receive the approval of the lawmakers in the upcoming budge, absolving them from of the criminal liability before any Court in Sri Lanka. The right-thinking taxpayers who obey their statutory obligations and always play their part would naturally perceive these drawbacks as a slap on their face.

We also aware that some of the drastic actions designed to taken through the budget include severe curtailment of law enforcement actions under the Customs Ordinance, probably removing enforcement provisions and the provisions provided by law to reward the informants and the fraud investigators. These actions designed against the public interests would effectively clip the wings of the frauds investigators and would only strengthen the hands of the fraudster elements.

Customs destined to fail without a right political will

Hon’ Sir, we firmly believe that you would now appreciate as to why the Executive should have honoured the Supreme Court order that ruled that Dr PB Jayasundara should not be allowed to hold any public office and the great dangers faced by the Country for defying the Supreme Court ruling by retaining dishonest people in the calibre of Dr PB Jayasundara in the Executive that not only hinder the Nation building efforts launched under your leadership but also would be perceived by the right thinking people in this country as a insult to their intelligence, as such actions are deemed abuse of peoples’ Executive power with a scant respect to the peoples’ sovereignty.

Need of the hour

Hon’ Sir, having placed the aforementioned information before you, as the Sri Lanka Freedom party Trade Union of the Sri Lanka Customs, we honestly believe that it is suffice to understand true character of the twofaced ST and as to why he declined to give effect to your directive and refused to recall Mr Kodituwakku to the active service. We believe that in the eyes of the right thinking people, particularly in an era where the image of the Customs Department is badly tarnished and needs an overall change, this incidence of refusal of services offered by the former head of the Customs Revenue Task Force Mr Kodituwakku by the ST, would be considered not only as a miscarriage of justice but also as an encouragement to the acute lawlessness rampant in the Department of Customs. Tell a Friend

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