Arjuna Mahendran

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has accused Singapore of harbouring one of Sri Lanka’s former central bank chiefs who is wanted in connection with a S$74 million insider trading the scam.

Arjuna Mahendran, a Singapore national born in Sri Lanka, was accused in 2015 of passing sensitive information to his bond-dealer son-in-low to pocket millions. The two of them are accused of manipulating bond auctions in 2015 and 2016, causing the state of Sri Lanka lossess amounting to over $11 million.

In January 2015, Mr Mahendran was invited to head up the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. He was appointed and designated as the Governor the Central Bank. However a month later, news broke of a controversial Treasury Bond transaction. A standing committee of the Sri Lankan parliament, the Committee of Public Enterprises (COPE), investigated the matter. In October 2015, they determined that Mr Mahendran should be held responsible for this bond issue scam and recommended that legal action be taken against him.

A Committee of Inquiry was also appointed to look into the issue. They identified several persons involved in this scam including Arjuna Mahendran and the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Wickremasinghe.

The Attorney General of Sri Lanka has since filed legal action against those involved and the courts have commenced the judicial process. Unfortunately, Sri Lankan authorities have said they are unable to locate Mr Mahendran at his address in Singapore to serve the summons on him to appear before the court. Sri Lankan police say they have sought help from Interpol to arrest him.

According to a report by AFP, President Sirisena reached out to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in January but nothing has been done. He said, “He assured me that whether the person is a Singapore citizen or not, they will take action…Sadly, up to now, Singapore has not responded to my call.”

President Sirisena says that Interpol’s Singapore branch have confirmed Mr Mahendran is in fact in Singapore.

Looking at Mr Mahendran’s LinkedIn profile, it says that he is at present a Senior Investment Consultant at ‘Private Family Office’ where he’s been attached to since January 2017.

As such, the President has reached out to PM Lee for his help in locating Mr Mahendran in Singapore and handing him over to face the charges brought against him in Sri Lankan courts.

Unfortunately, even though Interpol has issued a red notice for the arrest of Mr Mahendran, President Sirisena says Singapore is not acting on that request.

While Singapore has extradition relations with 39 Commonwealth countries including Sri Lanka but it appears that Singapore is currently unwilling to handover their citizen to face these charges in a foreign court.

TOC has reached out to the authorities to confirm if Mr Mahendran is indeed in Singapore.

Update 18.10.2019:

Mr Mahendran has reached out to TOC to say that these allegations made against him are a malicious campaign by the outgoing President.

Mr Mahendran said in an email, “The case against me has been maliciously instigated by the outgoing President Sirisena of Sri Lanka as part of a campaign to discredit his Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. To date, there has been absolutely no evidence brought forward to prove any malfeasance by me in this case.”

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