Graft-buster campaigns to track down Sri Lanka tsunami corruption

Jan 23, 2007 (AFP) – An international graft-buster Tuesday kicked off a campaign for survivors of Sri Lanka’s December 2004 tsunami to report allegations of corruption involving local and international aid. Transparency International, an international anti-corruption group, set a five-month timetable to give tsunami victims a chance to voice any charges of graft when aid was being distributed.

“We are giving people five months to record such misappropriation of funds, and they have to back their claims with substantive evidence,” said J. C. Weliamuna, Sri Lanka’s executive director of Transparency International.

About 400 state, local and international charities received pledges of up to 3.2 billion dollars to rebuild tsunami-hit areas.

But the state auditor general in September 2005 noted out of 1.16 billion dollars committed, only 13.5 percent had actually been spent.

Transparency international believes only a fraction of the aid actually went to the victims, and in the absence of proper account-keeping it has been virtually impossible to track down what happened to the cash.

“During our post-tsunami audit last year, we found instants of sloppy work and no proper method to account