By Frederica Jansz
The Court of Appeal last week ordered that General Anuruddha 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 to be revisited is in relation to September 2002 when a vault at Hatton National Bank in Ratwatte’s name was found to contain 43 million rupees worth of Certificates of Deposits.
Last Thursday the Court of Appeal 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. The Court of Appeal however last week ordered that the High Court revisit the case and initiate trial proceedings against Anuruddha Ratwatte. The Bribery Commission has asked that Ratwatte be prosecuted for committing an offense in having assets that exceeded his income.
When we contacted Ratwatte’s Kandy residence for comment his wife who answered the phone hung up.
In 2002, a police raid of 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 Ratwatte had vaults in these banks too, hoarding a secret stash of money. The search proved fruitless. A search at Amro Bank in Colombo also proved negative. Ratwatte did have a vault at Amro Bank but when CID officers turned up to investigate there was nothing in it.
Senior sleuths at the time confided they were convinced there is more of Ratwatte’s wealth secretly stashed away and they will continue to hunt for the hidden treasure. Meanwhile, the CID lodged a complaint with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption that Anuruddha Ratwatte has amassed Rs. 43 million worth of certificates of deposits (CDs) illegally.
Despite 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 Ratwatte’s hidden stash of money were pickings from numerous weapons “deals” and commissions , the General collected over a seven year period while he reigned supreme as deputy defence minister. Once indicted, The one time all powerful minister fell out of favour and was not given nominations to contest elections during the Kumaratunga regime. His name was included in the national list of the UPFA in the February 2010 General Election but was not appointed to Parliament. His son Lohan Ratwatta, was elected to parliament from Kandy district at the same election.