Thilak Karunaratne sends letter of demand to Sunday Leader

Thilak Karunaratne

Apr 18, 2016 (LBO) – Thilak Karunaratne, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC), has sent a letter of demand to The Sunday Leader newspaper alleging defamation for an article titled “SEC Fails Market Again,” on April 3rd.

The article, which quotes from another article published on the website “‘Lanka News Web,” states that Multiform Chemicals (Pvt) Ltd, in which Karunaratne is a majority shareholder, was involved in a customs racket leading to a loss of 450 million rupees to the government.

“I am instructed to state that my client and/or Multiform Chemicals (Pvt) Ltd. has never been found guilty of a violation of any customs laws,” the letter of demand states.

The reason Dhammika Perera, deputy director general of SEC, was placed on compulsory leave was because he showed interest in investigating this fraud, the article allges.

“The said Mr. Dhammika Perera, being Deputy Director General of SEC, had no jurisdiction whatsoever to investigate an alleged violation of customs regulations pertaining to private companies,” the letter states.

“I am further instructed to convey to you that such an investigation is within the sole jurisdiction of the Department of Customs. It is regretted that you, without ascertaining the veracity of the allegation mentioned in the present paragraph, have relied on and/or quoted extensively from an article carried in a website which
in turn has allegedly relied on an anonymous letter as the basis for the above allegation.”

Karunaratne had sought the intervention of the law enforcement authorities to arrest Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, former chairman of SEC, Ronnie Ibrahim, of the Tharunyata Hetak organization, and Dhammika Perera, an employee of SEC, due to a difference of opinion, according to the article.

“Your article also claims that my client continuously harassed, treated with malice and coerced Dhammika Perera to tender his resignation. I am instructed that my client vehemently denies all facts/allegations stated in
this paragraph as they are malicious falsehoods published with the ill-motive of defaming my client.”

A further accusation is that Roquette America, Inc., the “partner firm” of Multiform Chemicals (Pvt) Ltd. was subjected to a civil penalty in the USA for violations of the Clean Water Act, suggesting a close nexus between the two companies.

The letter of demand seeks 500 million rupees in damages, and the publishing of an apology and retraction of the article.