by Shamindra Ferdinando
The UK has offered to position a team of experts in Colombo to work with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) and specialised police including the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID).
The offer has been made during a recent meeting between a British and CIABOC delegations at the latter’s office.
Asked whether the UK and GoSL had reached an agreement on ‘deploying’ British investigators here, a spokesperson for the British HC told The Island: “Officers from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the UK have been training investigators in Sri Lanka for some time. The training included enhancing investigators’ capability to engage in international cases, thorough legal advice, exchanges and English language training.”
Responding to another query, the spokesperson said that Head of the British Diplomatic Service Sir Simon McDonald and Secretary at the UK Department for International Development Mark Lowcock had been involved in talks with the CIABOC team, including Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, PC and Additional Solicitor General.
CIABOC confirmed the British offer. An authoritative source said that the officer had to be studied.
They focused on British support towards ongoing anti-corruption work undertaken by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government and the pivotal importance of international cooperation. Ongoing investigations targeted members of the previous administration, including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
According to the British HC, the SFO was ready to work with Sri Lankan investigators and prosecutors in Colombo. Deputy British High Commissioner Laura Davies is on record as having said that the UK would spend Rs. 15 million or approximately three quarters of a million pounds sterling over the next three years to strengthen the police here.
The British delegation also met Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayake to discuss cooperation in addition to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Hindu religious Affairs Minister Swaminathan.
A senior SFO officer had been in Colombo several months ago to assist the CIABOC and the police, including the FCID. Declaring that the SFO had never seconded a senior investigator to any country before, Deputy HC Davies said that he produced what she called a tailored package of training to develop investigation capability in addition to arranging four Sri Lankan officers to attend their own investigation training course in London.