News

Cabinet wants Mendis license revoked

  • Ramesh Pathirana cites Aloysius’ ‘involvement in Bond Scam’

  • License issued only last week

By Dinitha Rathnayake

 

The Ministry of Finance headed by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was requested by the Cabinet of Ministers to cancel the license issued to liquor manufacturer W.M. Mendis and Company Ltd., helmed by businessman Arjun Aloysius, to resume operations, according to Cabinet Co-Spokesman Dr. Ramesh Pathirana.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet media briefing yesterday (6), he said the Cabinet of Ministers had asked the Finance Ministry to cancel the said license issued to W.M. Mendis and Co. Ltd.

“The company has agreed to settle the tax arrears by way of instalment payments and the Finance Ministry agreed to allow the recommencement of operations. However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Cabinet came to the conclusion that we cannot ignore the Central Bank Treasury Bond Scam-related charges levelled against the company’s owner. We cannot justify this monetary scam by replacing it with a tax related payment, and that is why most of the Cabinet urged us to cancel the license,” he said.

According to Dr. Pathirana, it was not a proposal by the Cabinet but that the Finance Ministry had simply been advised to withdraw the license that had been issued.

The Excise Department granted permission to W.M. Mendis and Co. Ltd., which has defaulted on large sums of back taxes owed, to recommence operations to produce liquor in their distilleries.

Excise Commissioner Kapila Kumarasinghe, speaking to The Morning, said that permission was granted as per several requests made by the company to recommence operations.

He added that the company had agreed to settle the tax arrears by way of instalment payments, noting that the Government would pay attention to the making of the payments.

Aloysius is implicated in the so-called 2015 Treasury Bond Scam, for which he spent nearly a year in remand custody, and is involved with the primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. He is the son-in-law of former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran who is also implicated in the said scam.