Chairman of the SEC

Chairman of the SEC

Mr. Salieh is The Immediate Past Chairman of the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors, which is committed to empowering Directors from both the private and public sectors with insights and skills to assume their roles and to groom a new generation of Boardroom Leaders.

Mr. Salieh brings a wealth of experience to his job, having over 40 years of extensive experience in commercial and development banking both in Sri Lanka and overseas. He was Chief of Corporate & Merchant Banking at ANZGrindlays Bank; COO of NDB; Executive Director/CEO of NDB Housing Bank; founder MD/CEO of Amana Bank; and Senior Independent Director of Cargills Bank and HNB General Insurance.

Mr. Salieh played an outstanding strategic and operational leadership role in establishing Amana Bank as the first interest-free licensed commercial bank operating on the profit and loss sharing model in Sri Lanka. He has held Board positions in several companies in the business of Banking, Finance, Insurance, Fund Management, Stockbroking, Manufacturing, Trading and Education; he has served on State University Boards, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and several Government and Non-Governmental Committees in the fields of Finance, Economic Affairs, Housing, Construction and Tertiary Education. Mr. Salieh holds a First Class Honours Degree in Economics with specialization in Banking & Finance, MBA and FCPM.


The past year was marked by unparalleled challenges stemming from the worst economic crisis since our nation’s independence, which rigorously tested the resilience of our financial markets and institutions. Amidst this testing crisis, we remained steadfast in our mission to regulate the capital market, protect investors, uphold public interest, reduce financial crime, and sustain a fair, orderly, and efficient market. We’ve been actively working on critical matters and key priorities throughout the economic crisis. We believe hard and difficult times are the best times for reflection, rebuilding and preparing institutions to be future-ready in order to make early gains when the economic uptake happens In line with our commitment to foster a robust capital market ecosystem, we introduced a comprehensive Capital Market Reforms Agenda for the period 2023-2025 comprising of 12 key initiatives aimed at promoting growth, innovation, and sustainability in the securities market. We identified institutional capacity building as a key priority for 2023 in order to enhance SEC’s overall efficiency and effectiveness and specifically fulfil its regulatory role and responsibilities under the new and expanded SEC Act. Critical areas that required early and expeditious action were in the Human Resources and Technology spaces of our operations.

These included the acquisition, retention, upskilling and realignment of specialist human talent, automation of key business processes, procurement of appropriate technology systems relevant to a specialist standards-setting and regulatory institution, and organization transformation towards operating process efficiencies, performance orientation and a principled market behavioral culture. The capacity building process took into specific consideration the existing gaps across our three core operating pillars, namely Market Surveillance, Investigations and Enforcement. The Commission has initiated appropriate actions to address the gaps whilst being mindful of the challenges posed by the external environment. Our organization transformation initiative is strategically interlinked to our digital transformation initiative to create meaningful outcomes from both the value creation and risk mitigation perspectives. While some of the reform initiatives have been successfully completed, others are steadily advancing. Central to the reforms agenda is the embrace of digital transformation which is an important element in modernizing our market infrastructure and improving accessibility for all stakeholders, the establishment of a Derivatives Exchange, a Carbon Credit Trading Exchange, a Multi-Currency Exchange and the introduction of new products as part of our commitment to facilitating diverse investment opportunities while aligning with global sustainability goals.

In pursuit of good governance, better efficiency and competitiveness, the demutualization of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) remains a top priority on the reforms agenda. Our capital market is among very few markets in the world that operate a mutual stock exchange. Demutualization is critical to building sustainable trust and confidence at the market institution level. In 2023, we took decisive steps to expedite the demutualization legislation which had been stalled due to differences in opinion since 2018. I appreciate the cooperation we have now received from the stock broking industry to reactivate and progress with the demutualization bill through the legislature. The success of this joint effort will bring positive results to the future operations of the CSE and enable its elevation to the next league. The procurement of a real-time market surveillance system and an automated market supervision system are currently in progress and will strengthen the critically important core regulatory functions of market surveillance and market supervision, fortify the regulatory oversight process and safeguard investor interests. In collaboration with the CSE, we fostered an environment conducive to innovation and growth, marked by the introduction of several transformative initiatives. We created an enabling regulatory framework for Regulated Short Selling (RSS) through Securities Borrowing and Lending (SBL), a significant milestone that enhances market liquidity and efficiency while offering investors new avenues for risk management. We championed sustainability through the creation of a regulatory framework for sustainable bonds, including Green and Blue Bonds, which not only diversify investment opportunities but also promote environmental and social responsibility. Our commitment to financial inclusivity is evident in the introduction of Shariah Compliant Debt Securities, catering to the diverse needs of investors while adhering to ethical principles. Recognizing the pivotal role of infrastructure development in driving economic growth, we have enabled the issuance of Infrastructure Bonds, providing long-term financing solutions for essential projects.

In support of the Government’s policy on reforms in State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) we approved the creation of a separate transitionary listing board to enable the listing of SOEs, a critical step towards progressively bolstering market liquidity and promoting transparency in the SOE sector. Listing SOEs on the CSE offers many benefits for the entities in terms of better governance, transparency and investor interest. Through vigilant surveillance and thorough investigation, the Commission took swift and decisive enforcement actions against individuals, market intermediaries, and listed companies found to be involved in fraudulent activities or market manipulation. These efforts serve as a clear demonstration of our commitment to uphold the rule of law and preserve market discipline and integrity. In 2023, the Commission approved many enforcement actions sending a strong message that unethical, illegal, criminal behavior, market transactions and offences will not be tolerated within the capital market. Our proactive approach to enforcement underscores our commitment to fostering a fair, transparent and orderly market environment, where investors can have confidence in the integrity of our regulatory framework. One notable area of focus during the year has been the proliferation of unlicensed individuals providing investment advice, particularly through social media channels. In view of the potential risks posed by such unauthorized advice, the SEC took proactive measures to warn and educate such individuals and the general public about the regulatory requirements that govern the offering of investment advice. Recognizing the importance of stakeholders in shaping the direction and efficacy of the capital market, we facilitated regular engagement, dialogue, consultation and collaboration with various stakeholders. Through regular consultations and discussions with market participants, industry associations, and other regulatory bodies, seminars and outreach programs, we actively sought to understand the evolving needs and challenges of stakeholders while disseminating critical regulatory updates and guidance. Beyond the domestic sphere, the SEC actively participated in international forums, including the Annual Meetings of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), building effective partnerships and knowledge exchanges to strengthen Sri Lanka’s position in the global market and regulatory landscape. Through extensive stakeholder consultations, including dialogue with market participants, industry experts, and regulatory counterparts, we diligently reviewed and updated the Rules on Corporate Governance in 2023, marking the first comprehensive revision since 2008.

The revision of Corporate Governance Rules marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to fortify the governance structures, roles, duties and responsibilities of the Board of Directors and Board Committees of the listed companies. This collaborative endeavour between the SEC, CSE and the industry, reflects our collective resolve to foster a culture of transparency, accountability, and ethical stewardship in Sri Lanka’s corporate landscape thereby reinforcing investor trust and confidence, and resilience in our securities market. In a proactive measure to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of SEC’s market supervision role, we initiated the long-overdue revision of licensing fees for regulated entities. Recognizing the dynamic nature of the financial industry and the evolving regulatory requirements, this initiative addressed the long overdue need to align licensing fees with current market realities and operational costs. After more than a decade without any realistic adjustment, this revision has buttressed the licensing fees structure to a somewhat meaningful level for the time being. In order to uphold investor trust, mitigate risks and promote ethical business practices, we introduced minimum governance standards for Market Intermediaries. Through the implementation of these standards, Market Intermediaries are expected to operate with greater transparency and accountability, and ensure ethical business conduct.

We have embarked on an ambitious endeavour to foster capital market awareness at the school level, recognising the indispensable role of education in cultivating a culture of financial literacy. We made significant strides in fostering financial literacy across the country. Building upon the visionary leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, we initiated Capital Market Clubs in 100 carefully selected schools across all 9 provinces. The inauguration of the first club by the President himself marked a symbolic commitment to empowering our youth with essential financial knowledge and skills. Furthermore, in our continued efforts to broaden financial education initiatives, we launched Varsity Battles, a capital market quiz, targeting students of state universities. This innovative program seeks to engage and challenge students enhancing their understanding of capital markets, investment principles, and financial management. Through these initiatives, we aim to cultivate a generation of informed investors and responsible financial decision-makers, paving the way for a more resilient and prosperous future. I am pleased to say that the SEC weathered the economic storm in 2023, set a meaningful reforms agenda for both the institutional and market levels with realistic priorities, and made timely decisions towards fulfilling its enhanced role and responsibilities.

We had a choice in 2023 – that is, stay where we were or leap into the next league of future – ready, proactive, efficient and effective capital market regulators who have set the benchmark in the region. We conscientiously made the choice to take the leap in 2023 and shall continue on that journey with renewed vigour and commitment in 2024. 2024 will be a challenging year in terms of the economic recovery and the path to growth. Clearly there is light at the end of the tunnel and the economy is on the right track. Positivity and a positive mindset is a crucial factor to pull ourselves out of the crisis. The present crisis gives us a chance to come out of it with our right side up, and that we must do. Now is the time to do the right things towards long term stability. As we look ahead, we shall remain unwavering in our commitment to protecting investors, safeguarding the public interest, guiding and supporting issuers, market participants and stakeholders, and upholding the principles of good governance, transparency, accountability, and ethical practices. I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the Commission Members, the Director General, Deputy Director General and all Staff of the Secretariat for their individual commitment, untiring efforts and collective contribution to SEC’s mission.

I also wish to thank the Hon. President & Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilisation & National Policies, the State Minister of Finance, and officials of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilisation & National Policies for their guidance and support, and all our stakeholders in the industry for their cooperation and support.

Chairman’s Office


Phone : 0112 143810