- Ex Navy Chief As HC To The UK
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
General Anuruddha Ratwatte is tipped to be appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia.
External Affairs Ministry Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe when contacted by The Sunday Leader did not deny Ratwatte’s appointment, but said appointments of high commissioners and ambassadors to Sri Lankan mission overseas was the prerogative of the President.
Former Navy Commander and National Security Advisor to the President, Wasantha Karannagoda is tipped to be appointed as the High Commissioner to the UK. Ratwatte, who is heading the list of names to head the Sri Lankan mission in Malaysia, is facing bribery and corruption charges in the high court
Ratwatte diplomatic nomination comes despite the Court of Appeal last month ordering that General Ratwatte, be tried once again before the High Court for having concealed a sum of Rs. 43 million worth of certificates of deposits in a bank vault in what was construed to be in excess of his income amounting to an alleged act of bribery and corruption.
The case is in relation to September 2002 when a vault at Hatton National Bank in Ratwatte’s name was found to contain Rs. 43 million worth of Certificates of Deposits (CDs).
The Court of Appeal in July this year allowed an appeal by the Bribery Commission to set aside the High Court order of November 30, 2007, when Ratwatte on a technicality was discharged by the courts.
In 2002, a police raid of General Ratwatte’s vault at Hatton National Bank caused a national stir. After discovering Rs. 43 million worth of CDs, sleuths attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) checked the Hatton National Bank branches in Kandy and Katugastota too on September 4, 2002, to ascertain if General Ratwatte had vaults in these banks too, hoarding a secret stash of money. The search proved fruitless.
Senior sleuths have confided they were convinced there is more of General Ratwatte’s wealth secretly stashed away and they will continue to hunt for the hidden treasure.
Despite General Ratwatte’s proclamations to the CID that the CDs belonged to numerous friends, he never was able to furnish the names of these “friends” to the police in order to ascertain their credibility.
The monetary haul meanwhile sparked a controversy of a different nature. Allegations were made that General Ratwatte’s hidden stash of money were pickings from numerous weapons “deals” and commissions, the General collected over a seven year period while serving as Deputy Defence Minister.