Jan 21, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is expected to take action against the removal of Chairman of the Lanka Coal Company (Private) Limited, Maithri Gunaratne and the Director Board of the Company by the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy, according to a local media report.
The Board of Directors of the Lanka Coal Company (LCC), including the Chairman Maithri Gunaratne, has been removed on 17 January on the orders of the Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.
Gunaratne complained that he has been removed from the Chairman post with the aim to impose the charges of fraud in coal purchases upon him.
The ousted chairman has met the President on January 18 to discuss the issues surrounding the decision to dissolve the Director Board, the Weekend Nation reported.
Reportedly Gunaratne was ousted following his refusal to a request by the Secretary to the Power Ministry Dr. Suren Batagoda calling for coal to be purchased at a price higher than what is on offer in the open market.
Attorney-At-Law Gunaratne told BBC that all purchase orders for coal are prepared by the Secretary when calling for tenders for the transactions.
In response to this, Batagoda said that the plans for all the transactions are prepared by the Coal Company and the Chairman should be responsible if any irregularities occurred.
However, both the Secretary to the Ministry and the ousted Chairman told BBC that the then Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka who was in charge during period the purchases were made, was informed about the irregularities happening when purchasing coal.
The Secretary to the Power Ministry said that the Ceylon Coal Company had issued many tenders during the last five years without the Cabinet approval or Technical Committee approval.
The Anti-Corruption Front said according to the Auditor General's report on the coal purchases in the past, which was presented to the parliament on 30 December, the fraudulent deal which had misled the Cabinet had caused a massive loss of Rs 4.145 billion and the Ministry ignoring the Auditor General's report is preparing to make a similar deal to purchase coal again with a possible loss of another Rs. 4 billion.
Gunaratne meanwhile, said that the President had been kept informed of the happenings in this regard during every stage of the process.
President Maithripala Sirisena appointed Gunaratne, a former UNP Provincial Councilor as LCC Chairman in January 2015, after his election.
According to a Ministry statement, the Additional Secretary (Technical) of the CEB, Merill Gunathilake, has been appointed as the Acting Chairman of the Lanka Coal Company until a new board of directors is appointed.