The Brothers’ Grip

Meet Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena. He’s every saver’s dream come true – a bank director who can predict the future.

Abeygunawardena is the ‘working director’ of one of Sri Lanka’s biggest banks, the state-owned National Savings Bank (NSB) – that is, when he’s not being a celebrity soothsayer.

Abeygunawardena’s main claim to fame in Sri Lanka is as an astrologer. With his columns in government-friendly newspapers, a regular star-gazing spot on national television and a lucrative personal horoscope service delivered via SMS with the state telco, he’s one of the country’s most visible faces.

“World renowned” Abeygunawardena had no formal experience in banking before his “close family friend” Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa – who is also Finance Minister – tapped him for the NSB board in 2007.

That was the year before the world’s financial system melted down, when a judicious bit of fortune-telling could have come in handy, for bankers and investors alike. Unfortunately, Abeygunawardena’s astrological skills didn’t seem to do NSB much good that year – profits fell by 32 per cent as times got very tough for bankers everywhere.

But what perspicacious predictions this seer has made elsewhere.