Recently media institutions reported that a director of People’s Bank had allegedly obtained Sri Lanka’s biggest loan from People’s Bank. It was a news fabricated by several media institutions to boost their ratings.
MTD Walkers PLC, the company in question, has been a customer of People’s Bank for 14 years. People’s Bank, sending a letter to Capitol Maharaja Organization on 31 July, emphasized that MTD Walkers PLC is a credible customer of the bank. People’s Bank had provided financial assistance to this company several times, and all due payments have been made as per the bank’s requirements.
Connecting Jehan Amaratunga with a loan which had been awarded after taking into account all pertinent laws and regulations specified by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, is nothing more than an attempt to boost ratings of certain media institutions.
Who awards loans? Who takes loans?
The question that needs to be answered is, who awarded the loan, and who took the loan?
Jehan Amaratunga serves as a member of Board of Directors of both institutions. He was appointed by People’s Bank to its board of directors in 2010, whereas he became a member of Board of Directors of MTD Walkers PLC in 2014.
Obviously, MTD Walkers PLC obtains the aforementioned loan for the company. The loan was granted by People’s Bank, not Jehan Amaratunga. Moreover, had Jehan Amaratunga been involved in the process of awarding the loan when the Board of Directors took the decision, then there is definitely a problem and People’s Bank is wrong!
Media makes fun of the concept of Conflict of Interest?
The loan had been approved by three members of the bank’s Board of Directors and a senior member of its loans section. But Jehan Amaratunga is not engaged in this process. People’s Bank approves large scaled loans thorough Board Executive Credit Committee (BECC) and Jehan Amaratunga is not in this committee too.
If Jehan Amaratunga had intervened in this matter, using his designation or power, then that creates a conflict of interest. That did not happen, then what is the problem? Just because Jehan is a directors of People’s Bank, can’t other institutions he is connected with obtain services from People’s Bank? This notion can cause a serious violation of rights of those institutions.
Providing inaccurate definitions of conflict of interest, without a concrete legal basis, is simply useless.
Before the law, a company is a person
Certain Sri Lankan media institutions including Sirasa (Capitol Maharaja Organization) act as if Jehan Amaratunga approved his own loan sitting in the BECC. But technically, Jehan Amaratunga had neither approved nor accepted the loan. The loan was awarded by People’s Bank; the loan was taken by MTD Walkers PLC. Quite simply, a company of which Jehan is a director, awarded a loan to another company of which he is a director. Before the law, even a company is recognized as a person, a ‘legal person’.
Jehan Amaratunga is neither MTD Walkers PLC nor People’s Bank. Both these institutions, before the law, are separate entities. No law in the world can equalize Jehan Amaratunga to either of these entities.
A political hunt
After all, Jehan Amaratunga is being used as a bait for a political game. It seems to be a quite weak attempt due to inaccurate news circulated by these media institutions regarding the aforementioned firm’s ownership. MTD Walkers PLC is a registered firm in the share market and legally, is a public company. It has ten owners but Jehan Aamatunga is not among them. Certain media institutions had reported that the co-owner of this firm is a prominent minister in the government. They should have checked the ownership of its shares. Not only does this firm has no co-owners, but also there are no ministers among its owners!
Laws of the firm do not require a shareholder to be appointed to its Board of Directors. ‘Deshaya’ newspaper was the first to publish this erroneous news regarding Jehan Amaratunga. Thereafter, several websites also reported the same. Only a few are aware of the source of information of Deshaya article written by Ranjith Ananda Jayasuriya. Those ‘sources’ are fabricating news to support the Joint Opposition’s dream of bringing down the Prime Minster. A retired bank union chairman is also involved.
Destroying the trust
Before criticizing people or organizations, media institutions must examine pertinent facts and understand the relevant legal background. Due to people’s trust in media, they are easily misled by these types of reports. These media institutions are simply destroying people’s trust.
The letter sent to Capitol Maharaja Organization by People’s Bank