Sri Lanka commission recommends prosecution of ex-minister

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A Sri Lankan tailor inside his shop, watches the TV broadcast showing a speech by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Sirisena said that a commission he appointed to investigate alleged irregularities in the sale of treasury bonds has recommended the country’s former finance minister Ravi Karunanayake for possible prosecution on charges of alleged bribery. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's president said Wednesday that a commission he appointed to investigate alleged irregularities in the sale of treasury bonds has recommended the prosecution of the country's former finance minister on bribery charges.

Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, who later became foreign minister, resigned from the Cabinet last year when it was exposed that he was allegedly occupying a luxury apartment, the rents for which were being paid by a businessman being investigated for insider trading.

Making a special statement, President Maithripala Sirisena said the commission has also recommended criminal action against Karunanayake for allegedly giving false evidence before the commission. He said he has sent the inquiry report to the attorney general for legal action.

Karunanayake has previously denied the allegation, saying the apartment deal was handled by his family and he was unaware of the parties involved.

The businessman in question is the son-in-law of former Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran, who the report says is responsible for leaking inside information and of interfering with bond auctions.

Sirisena said that according to the report, the company of the Central Bank governor's son-in-law made profits exceeding $72 million in a short time span and the losses to the state from the dealings were around $55 million.

The scandal has tainted the reputation of Sirisena's government, which came to power promising to eradicate corruption.

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