Sri Lanka terminates top financial crime buster

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government Tuesday terminated the services of Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) chief Ravi Waidyalankara amid serious allegations of graft, official sources said.

The cabinet of ministers at their meeting Tuesday discussed the future of Senior Deputy Inspector-General who is also suspected of passing sensitive information to two Singapore nationals implicated in the highly controversial MiG deal.

President maithripala Sirisena as minister of Law and Order presented the cabinet paper terminating Waidyalankara with effect from February 22, a proposal that was unanimously approved, a ministerial source said.

In the purchase of four second-hand MiG planes for the air force in 2006, the then defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is accused of siphoning off nearly seven million dollars from the Sri Lankan government, according to papers submitted to court.

The FCID’s top officer has been accused of covertly helping Rajapaksa as well as his foreign collaborators to defend themselves against the allegations of illegally earning “commissions” from the MiG deal.

Waidyalankara’s sudden travel to Singapore on January 16 raised more than eyebrows at police headquarters. The authorities suspected he had collected vital evidence on the MiG case and passed it onto the Singapore couple wanted by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the police.

The top cop had denied any wrong doing, but Inspector-General Pujith Jayasundara last week ordered the CID to use ”whatever means necessary” to investigate the allegations against Waidyalankara.

He had been handpicked to head the FCID at its inception after the UNF government came to power in 2015. The new government had believed that he would go after the corrupt members of the Rajapaksa regime, but his record in completing cases had been dismal.

When President Sirisena sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and replaced him with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Waidyalankara was one of the first policemen to rush to side with the Rajapaksas.

Still dressed in his casual shorts, Waidyalankara cozied up to the new administration that lasted just over 50 days. Just four months before the coup, he had been given an exceptional nine-month service extension that expires on March 30. He should have retired in June upon reaching the age of 60.

However, the government has now decided to sack him a month before he was due to finally retire. In the meantime, the CID investigation is due to get into full swing.

The defence ministry instructions are expected to channeled through the National Police Commission to meet the required formalities. It is understood that many had advised Waidyalankara on Monday that it would be better if he stepped down before being fired.  (COLOMBO, February 26, 2019)

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