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Gold Donated For President’s Replica Goes Missing

Jan 1, 2011 2:20:42 PM - thesundayleader.lk

By Nirmala Kannangara

Chairman, National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA), Anil Koswatte has been questioned last week over missing gold and other misappropriation of NGJA funds by the investigation officers of the Environment Ministry, officials said.

The questioning of Koswatte follows three exposés in The Sunday Leader that the Chairman of NGJA had demanded free gold from a gem miner to craft a gem studded golden replica of President Mahinda Rajapaksa prior to the ‘Jewels Sri Lanka 2010’ exhibition.

The owner of  Ananda Miners had given more than 300 grams of  gold to the Chairman at his request.  It is this gold that has gone missing according to sources within the Authority.

Meanwhile, Koswatte, who was at a discussion with NGJA Ratnapura and Eheliyagoda employees at the Ratnapura Regional Office on Wednesday, December 29, had been urged to return to Colombo immediately by the Environment Ministry to appear before the investigation team the same evening.

Investigating officers had removed more files from the NGJA on Tuesday and are looking for further details. Sources quoting Working Director, NGJA, Sarath Samarakoon who is also in charge of the investigations told The Sunday Leader that Chairman Koswatte has already been found guilty on 20 counts out of the several charges framed against him.

However Samarakoon himself told The Sunday Leader that he is not aware of any particulars into the investigation but promised to furnish all details to the newspaper within two days. “Up to now I do not know what the outcome of the investigation is. More files were removed from the NGJA last Tuesday. I can furnish details into the investigation only after two days,” he said.

Meanwhile Chairman Koswatte has threatened Management Assistant – Publicity, Anoma Weralupe for releasing the publicity files of the ‘Jewels Sri Lanka 2010’ exhibition to the investigation team.

“When the investigations were initiated Working Director Sarath Samarakoon wanted me to hand over the three publicity files to him as it was a known fact that advertisements were given to the print and electronic media without calling for quotations and according to the whims and fancies of the Chairman and the Consultant – Commercial.

The Chairman was furious over this and came to my office on Thursday and threatened to take disciplinary action against me. I have all the documents to prove his misdeeds in relation to commercial activities and I am ready to expose him with all the documents to prove that Koswatte has played out NGJA funds,” Weralupe told The Sunday Leader. Working Director Samarakoon had requested Weralupe to send a fax to the investigation team complaining about Chairman Koswatte’s threat.