Graft Wave

December 26, 2009 (AFP) – Nearly half a billion dollars in tsunami aid for Sri Lanka is unaccounted for and over 600 million dollars has been spent on projects unrelated to the disaster, an anti-corruption watchdog said Saturday. Berlin-based Transparency International demanded an audit of the money received by the Sri Lankan government to help victims of the Asian tsunami which hit the island on December 26, 2004, killing 31,000 people.

The group’s Sri Lankan chapter said the public have a right to know how the aid money was spent as the tropical nation marked the fifth anniversary of the tsunami.

The group alleged that out of 2.2 billion dollars received for relief, 603.4 million dollars was spent on projects unrelated to the disaster.

Another half a billion dollars was missing, the group said.

“There is no precise evidence to explain the missing sum of 471.9 million dollars,” the Transparency International statement issued in Colombo added.

An “audit should be done by the government to explain the utilisation of the money received and the challenges faced,” the group said.

An government official declined comment Saturday on the allegations but Colombo has consistently rejected such accu