by Shamindra Ferdinando
An international coalition led by Britain is now helping the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government stamp out corruption.
Deputy British High Commissioner Laura Davies said that the UK would work closely with the US, Australia and Switzerland to help the new administration. Davies is also accredited to the Maldives.
Davies said that the UK was in the process of enhancing Sri Lanka’s capability to handle international cases.
In accordance with an understanding with the government of Sri Lanka, the UK provides legal advice, training as well as English language training.
Davies said that the event was sponsored by a range of local and international organisations, including the British High Commission.
She asserted that the training provided by the British had enhanced investigators’ confidence as well as skills.
The official revealed that the UK had committed Rs. 15 million to support Sri Lanka’s anti-corruption project. The UK would continue to focus on capacity building and training for all the professional branches involved in anti-corruption work. Funding for anti-corruption project is in addition to 6.6 mn pounds sterling made available for military reforms and post-war resettlement of the displaced families etc.
The Deputy British High Commissioner recollected the circumstances under which the British stepped in to streamline the anti-corruption battle. Davies said that the UK was one of the first to offer what she called practical support when the new administration sought international assistance to recover massive amounts of money stashed overseas.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has publicly declared that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his close relatives had siphoned off from Sri Lanka funds to the tune of 18 billion dollars. Former President Rajapaksa has repeatedly denied the accusation.
Davies explained that measures taken by the UK to enhance Sri Lanka’s capacity in line with overall objectives to tackle corruption. She said that Sri Lanka had secured the services of a senior investigator with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and was the first country to receive such a benefit. The official revealed that the SFO had handed over a blueprint to strengthen the CIABOC as well as specialist police agencies, including Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID). Davies revealed that the SFO had accommodated, for the first time, external participants, four Sri Lankan personnel in a specialist training programme conducted in London.