July 24, 2008 (LBO) – A landmark court ruling against Sri Lanka’s John Keells group involving the privatization of a profitable marine bunkering unit which was coupled with a tax holiday, is sending shockwaves through the island’s private and public sectors. Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court said JKH had got a tax break through a ‘false and illegal’ manner and the then-chairman of the island’s privatization commission, current Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundera, had acted arbitrarily and exceeded his authority.
Court found that current JKH chairman Susantha Ratnayake and Jayasundera had worked in collusion to give illegal advantages to JKH against the public interest.
The ruling came after Vasudeva Nanayakkara, a left-leaning politician, went to court against the privatization of the former marine bunkering division of state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, which is known as Lanka Marine Services Ltd (LMSL).
Appearing for Nanayakkara was M A Sumanthiran and Viran Corea, who are also involved in another action related to the privatization of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation.
Court said the entire privatization exercise was flawed and was against a liberalization plan recommended by the Cabinet of Ministers. The process starte