FCID collecting vital information necessary for governance: official

Aug 06, 2016 (LBO) – A stream of former government and corporate officials who have been questioned by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) of Sri Lanka in recent months is not political vindictiveness or a witch hunt, a government official said.

It is the collection of key information necessary for good governance, the official said on the condition of anonymity.

“It’s not political vindictiveness. This is the best way to gather information about major financial transactions and whether the money has been properly accounted for. This is necessary for good governance.”

“We are also collecting information on where the money is being kept or hidden,” he added.

The Attorney General’s Department says 30 investigations have been submitted by the Police FCID and they plan to commence legal action after studying them. Thirteen cases have been filed at the High Court in connection with fraud or corruption.

The Rajapaksa family figures heavily in the cases — one case filed against Basil Rajapaksa, the former president’s brother, is in connection with roofing sheets worth 33 million rupees provided to selected nominees in the run up to the presidential election.

Yoshitha Rajapaksa was summoned in June to provide a statement on the CSN channel, and the former president’s other son Namal was arrested on charges of money-laundering. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s wife, Shiranthi, and his younger brother, Gotabhaya too are being investigated on allegations of financial misappropriation.

This was the government’s latest effort to “prosecute members of the previous administration,” the New York Times reported.

The senior official that Lanka Business Online spoke to, however, assured that this wasn’t petty political vindictiveness. Companies mentioned in the Panama Papers too are being investigated, he said.

Following the practice in the past, the government may consider an amnesty for companies that repatriate funds that cannot be properly accounted for, on the condition that these actions aren’t repeated.

Cases where financial crimes have been committed, however, will be strictly prosecuted, he added.