- Marxist Party wants to know why Weerawansa’s wife travelled to Seychelles with Presidential delegation
- No media freedom in SL because Govt. has too much to hide says JVP Leader
- If they strengthen the Bribery Commission for instance, half the Government will be in jail.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna has raised questions about the number of individuals travelling on Presidential delegations overseas, highlighting the case of Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s spouse being a member of the official delegation to Seychelles recently.
JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the Opposition had raised questions in Parliament recently about how many times the President had travelled overseas, the number of people travelling on presidential delegations and the reasons for each visit.
“We have a right to know this. They travel using the people’s money,” he charged.
He said the Government members had responded saying details of presidential delegations were a matter of national security.
The response underscored the necessity for a Right to Information Act, the JVP Leader said. “Today it is not only the people who don’t have access to this type of information, even the Parliament is not told,” Dissanayake said.
“For instance we want to know why Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s wife was on the presidential delegation to the Seychelles recently,” Dissanayake charged. “Was there a program for ministerial spouses in Seychelles? What was the purpose of her participation in that delegation?” the JVP Leader queried. He quipped that the Government needed to reveal whether there was a program for family counselling during the visit. “They charter an aircraft, spend public money and take along Ministers’ wives. The country has a right to know why,” he charged.
The JVP Leader claimed that there could be no media freedom in Sri Lanka because the Government had too much to hide. “There can be no independent Judiciary in Sri Lanka because the Government has too many people to bail out. They cannot strengthen independent institutions in the country because if they strengthen the Bribery Commission for instance, half the Government will be in jail,” Dissanayake charged.
According to recent reports in the Sri Lankan media, a member of the United National Party in the Sri Lankan Parliament has said that funds “including money swindled from development projects was deposited in Swiss banks through Seychelles”.
UNP Parliamentarian and well-known economist Dr. Harsha De Silva as saying that because of strict laws adopted by Switzerland, the amount of funds deposited in Swiss banks under Sri Lankan addresses had decreased in recent years while deposits through Seychelles had drastically increased.
“The population in Seychelles is slightly more than 90,000 but the deposits under the addresses of that country are worth about 3,000 million Swiss Francs last year, which is higher than the accumulated deposits under Sri Lankan addresses,” says De Silva in the article.
Seychelles has embarked on a process (…..) to register companies not only from Sri Lanka and these companies can have assets in banks across the world, it could be in Swiss banks as well as in banks elsewhere including Seychelles… the transfer of money in itself is not a crime. For us to say there has been a crime, fraud or money laundering there must be a proof that a company is implicated in illegal activities,” said Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Paul Adam.
The Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs described the archipelago as having established itself as an investment hub that allows businesses from several countries from Europe, Asia and even America to conduct business not only in Seychelles but in other countries in the region. Faced with such allegations as being reported by the Sri Lankan press, Adam said the best thing Seychelles can do is to show that it has all the necessary elements in place to deter illegal practices through its offshore sector.
“It does not mean, I want to be clear, that there aren’t people who are misusing the structures in place, there are some people unfortunately who are always trying to find ways to go through the back door instead of going through the legal channel, but more and more we can see that with the structures we have in place the chances of those with such bad intentions being successful is minimal,” he concluded. SNA contacted the Seychelles Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) that has said they are aware of the allegations being reported by the Sri Lankan media.