The Coalition against Corruption lodged a complaint with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIBABOC) regarding fraudulent acts mounting to more than Rs.2, 700 million in Laksala. They, in their petition to the Bribery Commission, has stressed that these fraudulent activities are taking place under the blessings of the Chairman of Laksala Anil Koswatte and its high ranked officials.
In the complaint to the CIABOC, it is noted that Auditor General’s reports in 2011 and 2012 had revealed large number of misappropriations took place in LAKSALA and Auditor General in 2012 annual report had refused to give his verdict on accounts maintain by Laksala on the grounds that the Department could not accept the account details provided by Laksal, as authentic.
“Those at the Auditor General’s Department who were involved in revealing these frauds have been transferred to a small office of Laksala in Moratuwa area, some 16km away from the head office making it hard for auditors to continue their work and making them travel 16 km up and down even to check a small voucher in connection to audit examination. This has been done, ignoring the necessary steps which Laksala management should have taken to stop malpractices,” the petition has further stated.
They have also alleged that in addition to the monthly salary of Rs.800, 000, Koswatte is getting a payment of Rs 250,000 from Laksala which is in gross violation of the regulations.
Amongst the allegations mentioned in the complaint, awarding Rs.220 million worth tender to violating tender procedures, awarding a construction tender of Rs.329 million to his friends, awarding the tender to constructing Laksala building for Rs. 600 million violating tender procedures, mortgage a building belonging to Laksala for Rs.440 millions without the approval of the Board of Directors are core.
The petition also stated, the Secretary to the Ministry of Botanical Gardens and Public Recreation was informed about these frauds and malpractices, but no action was taken against those who are responsible, so far.
The complaint further added management is not providing necessary information to auditors and noted that a single voucher of 2013 was not provided to auditors.
Auditor General’s Report 2012 also stated that no internal audit was conducted within the institution which is a violation of the Finance Act 1971 No 38.
It is also stated that numerous efforts were put by the Laksala management to disturb auditors to conduct their work.
However, despite all these serious allegations Minister of Botanical Gardens and Public Recreation Jayaratne Herath had reappointed Anil Koswatte as the Chairman of Laksala.
Coalition against Corruption further noted, at present electricity bills rent and security fees of many Laksala branches were not paid hence those branches are at a risk of closing.
“Ja-Ela K -Zone Laksala branch was closed and Fort branch has been abandoned,” complaint said.
He added, chairman of the Laksala state that there is an engineering unit in the Laksala which is a move taken by him to misguide the government and the public.
“As per the National Crafts Council & Allied Institutions Act No. 35 of 1982 under which Laksala was established it is not legally allowed to maintain an engineering unit. The contract taken by claiming that engineering Unit is doing was handed over to four companies which do not have ICTAD qualifications to carry out a government contract,” complaint noted.
Coalition against Corruption requested the CIAOBC to conduct an inquiry and take necessary actions against those who are responsible.