SEC DG Vajira Wijegunawardane removed

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Director General (DG) Vajira Wijegunawardane has been removed from the post with immediate effect.

Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle confirmed he moved yesterday and said the decision to remove Wijegunawardane was by the Commissioners of the SEC.

This disclosure by Treasury Secretary is plausible contrary to earlier reports that the Cabinet decided to remove the DG. Capital market sources claimed the Finance Ministry had originally written to the SEC Commissioners and wanted the DG removed but as part of procedure the Commissioners had based on Finance Ministry letter had recommended the removal.

He has been moved to the Finance Ministry, a matter which analysts said may have been discussed during last week’s Cabinet meeting. Some insiders said a letter of removal hadn’t been served on Friday.

As per the SEC Act the DG is appointed by the Finance Minister on the recommendation of the Commission. Incumbent SEC Director Litigation Chinthaka Mendis has been appointed as the Director General. Experts said that when the DG post becomes vacant it must be advertised and only an acting appointment can be made or alternatively an Officer-in-Charge. Wijegunawardane was originally appointed as DG in 2015 and overall had served the SEC for 13 years.

Capital market has had mixed reactions over his appointment and the subsequent role he played.

SEC former Chairman Ranel Wijesinha soon after the November 2019 Presidential Election in a letter dated 2 December 2019 officially wrote to the Government to say alleged there were considerable risks and dangers associated with handing over the affairs of the SEC to the DG and explained a host of reasons.

Wijesinha alleged that though SEC former Chief Tilak Karunaratne originally recommended Wijegunawardane for the post, almost three years in office in the latter part of 2017 Karunaratne considered removing the DG.

Prior to being DG, Wijegunawardane led SEC’s Capital Market Development directorate for eight years actioning a development and reform agenda focused on sustainable growth and broad visibility for the Sri Lankan capital market.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Administration from the University of Reading, UK, and a Master of Financial Economics from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He also holds the International Capital Markets qualification from the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment, UK.

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