Tracing rip-offs during Mahinda regime unlikely – FCID

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

The Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) said it has made no substantial breakthrough in any of the 200 plus high profile overseas financial corruption cases they had filed in Court within the last two years.

An FCID official told Ceylon Today that they have written to nearly 70 countries including Ukraine, USA, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, UAE, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius, ……the Caribbean Islands including Jamaica and Panama, to name a few, but only 10 countries even acknowledged the letters which asked them to furnish details of the individuals who are believed to have stashed ill-gotten money in their countries.

FCID teams have gone to Ukraine, Singapore and Hong Kong and held discussion on several cases but have been unable to make a breakthrough in even one of the cases.

According to the FCID, the legal issues involved in the procedure are time consuming and these overseas institutions would need to also file cases in their Courts in order to release private account details to other elements.

“Many countries are willing to assist us but as there are legal issues involved such as getting a Court order to furnish their customer’s details to us, it is time consuming.”

The officials also pointed out interestingly that when they have been trying their best to probe a VIP’s bank accounts in the UAE, the very man had opened up business in Sri Lanka recently.

Asked about a high profile investigation linked to a Dubai (UAE) bank, the FCID official said that they requested UAE officials last year to furnish financial details of a high profile person allegedly involved in financial corruption linked to the former government.

However, the Dubai officials asked the FCID to submit the application in the Arabic language. “But while we were struggling to do the Arabic translation of the document, the very same individual in the Dubai case has returned to Colombo as an investor to start a mega tyre factory now.”

On the Ukraine visit to probe allegations relating to the former Lankan Envoy in Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, the FCID official said they needed more time for a response. “But at the moment, it’s a farce of an investigation” he added.

He said Interpol has been informed about the progress but he was not free to reveal details right now.

“We cannot force these countries to furnish details quickly. The procedure will take time,” he said.

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