Telephone-gate continues to showcase Fonseka ‘corruption’
Sri Lankan Army has demanded from the former Sri Lanka Army Commander the immediate payment of Sri Lankan Rs. 2,082,995.80 to the telephone calls he made in 2000 in the Inmarsat Satellite phone.
Sarath Fonseka when he was Commandant of Jaffna, Mangala Samaraweera who was the Minister of Post in the President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government provided the Inmarsat Satellite phone to the General to remain in touch with Colombo from Jaffna.
Subsequently, when Major General Sarath Fonseka was moved out of Jaffna as Vanni Commandant he took along with him the satellite phone.
It came to light that Major General Sarath Fonseka made use of the Sattelite phone to call his daughters, family members in USA and also in other countries thus abusing the Government property for his personal purpose.
On October 20, 2004, Sri Lanka Telecom demanded the payment of Rs. 2,018,3331/81 as outstanding payment for the use of satellite telephone during the year 2000/ 2001.
The then Army Commander, General SHS Kottogoda refused to settle the bill to avoid audit objections later. ‘… as it has risen where Army is unable to settle these bills as these calls cannot be certified as official calls.’
“Further this may lead to other audit queries as well”, he sternly told the Fonseka.
The tone and tenor of the letter clearly indicated that the Army would not settle the bill and Fonseka himself must foot the bill.
() Comd’s Secretariat, AHQ
Maj Gen GSC Foneska
Chief of Staff February 2005
LONG OUTSTANDING TEL BILLS
1. Sri Lanka Telecom by their letter dated 20 Oct 04 has indicated that Sri Lanka Army owes Rs. 2,018,331/81 as outstanding for the use of three Satellite Telephones during the years 2000/2001. (Copy Attached)
2. Of the above amount I observe that a total amount of Rs. 1,836,780/69 is for the use of the satellite phone given to SF HQ (W) during the months of Sep to Dec 2000 during which you were the SF Comd. Having gone through the detail bills which are attached I find that no local calls have been taken but all are overseas calls.
The summary of calls is given below:
(1) USA -151
(2) INDIA – 02
(3) AUSTRALIA – 03
(4) JAPAN -06
(1) USA -163
(2) NEDELAND -01
(1) USA -50
(2) UK -01
3. These Satellite phones were made aval for Comd’s of SF (J) and (W) to be used in an emergency if all other comms would fail and for urgent op reqmts. However I find that calls taken during the months indicated at para 2 are all overseas calls and has no relevance to op reqmts of the Army. Therefore a sit as arisen where Army is unable to settle these bills as these calls cannot be certified as official calls. Further this may lead to other audit queries as well.
It is possible that amount could have been deducted from the Major General’s salary but for a turnaround in his fortunes – towards the end of 2005, just 20-days before his retirement, Fonseka was appointed Army Chief.
Subsequently, Asian Tribune learnt that Sarath Fonseka after becoming the Commander of the Army ordered his Aide-de-camp to settle the satellite phones bills from the welfare funds of the Army.
By a quirk of irony, the payment for some reason or other the satellite telephone calls bills were not settled.
By a letter dated 7th January 2010 Sri Lanka Telecom addressed to Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, demanding for the outstanding payments of Inmarsat Satellite Phones - LKR 2,082,995.80.
Letter from the Sri Lanka Telecom states:
“ Further to our Letter dated 24th January 2006, we wish to to remind you that the payment for the above has not been made yet. Please settle the dues at the earliest.
Please send your check in favour of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC to reach the Accountant/ International Services, 4th Floor, OTS Building , Sri Lanka Telecom Head Quarters, Lotus Road, Colombo 1.”
Following this letter sent by the Sri Lanka Telecom under Registered Cover to the Sri Lanka Army Commander, the Sri Lanka Army’s Military Secretary Major General AWJC De Silva has written on 12 January 2010 to General Sarath Fonseka (Retd.) demanding the outstanding payment be made immediately.
According to the letter –
Outstanding payments for the usage Inmarsat Satellite Phone:
1. I have been instructed to bring to your attention that a bill has been submitted by the Sri Lankan Telecom to Sri Lanka Army for the settlement of a sum of Rs. 2,082,995.80 for the usage of Inmarsat Satellite Phone.
2. I have also been instructed to inform you that according to the records available in the Sri Lanka Army you have been found responsible for the usage of the said facility. As such it is kindly requested that the said bill be settled forthwith. A Copy of the bill furnished by the Sri Lanka Telecom.
Asain Tribune learnt so far there was no response forthcomimg from the Retired Gen. Sarath Fonseka for the repayment of the telephone call charges.
Also Asian Tribune learnt that Sri Lankan Army High Command is considering to file action in the court of law to recover the money from the Retired Gen. Sarath Fonseka.
- Asian Tribune -