COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena's Chief of Staff was arrested today for soliciting a bribe from an Indian investor, Bribery Commission officials said.
IK Mahanama, the chief of staff at presidential secretariat, along with P Dissanayake, who was heading the state-owned Timber Corporation, were arrested when they were accepting a bribe of 20 million Sri Lankan rupees, officials said.
The Indian firm was to revive the eastern province's Kantalai state sugar factory owned by the state and was seeking state approval for the project, officials said.
Mahanama was serving as the secretary to the ministry of lands when the Indian firm was applying for land clearance.
He was recently promoted as Sirisena's Chief of Staff, the most influential position in the administration after Secretary to the President.
Mahanama is the highest ranking official of the Sirisena administration to be arrested over graft charges.
Sirisena was informed of the arrest as he chaired a meeting of other senior officials.
Sirisena's predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa's chief of staff Gamini Senarath was also arrested recently for financial wrong doing under Rajapaksa's 10-year rule.
He is currently on bail.
During his election campaign in 2015, Sirisena had vowed to crackdown on corrupt officials.
Recently, Sirisena had claimed that the current government headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was more corrupt than the previous regime.