More legal teeth to probe financial crimes: Rajitha

Published : 8:25 am  July 24, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Sandun A Jaysekera
The UNP- led alliance yesterday pledged to prioritize the enactment of legislation to deal with those involved in financial crimes and other wrongdoings under the regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, if it was elected to office.

Cabinet spokesman and Minister Dr. Rajitha SDM_20150724_A001-21enaratne told the weekly news briefing that the only solution to the snail phased investigations and legal action against suspects who have allegedly committed financial crimes and misdeeds under the  Rajapaksa regime was the setting up of a new legislative and legal administration system with enough legal teeth.

‘We must accept that our legal system and activities at the Attorney General’s Department are not up to a satisfactory speed. That is why it takes several years if not months to complete investigations and take legal action against prima-facie cases of financial crimes. The best example is that only a very small number of cases have been filed against suspects who have allegedly involved in financial crimes and corruptions under the Rajapaksa regime so far,” Minister Senaratne added.

He said there were nearly 7,000 complaints on various financial crimes and corruptions against politicians and officials of the last regime but only 52 of them have been probed up to now. The Financial Crimes Division (FCID) and the CID await the Attorney General’s observations to file charges against suspects but the process was slow and added the AG’s Department works with a limited number of staff as there were a large number of staff vacancies at the Department. If the complaints received by the FCID, the CID and other law enforcement agencies in the last six months on financial crimes and corruptions reportedly committed during the last regime were investigated under the current system, it will take more than two decades minimum to complete and file charges against the suspects.

“That is why we need a legal and judicial system to inquire, file charges and conclude the court cases speedily. Therefore, a new legal and legislative procedure is the need of the hour and the new government would give priority to introduce necessary laws as early as possible and that would also provide answers to the opposition charge that no one accused by the UNP for misdeeds and corruptions has been convicted so far,” he said.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayaka who also attended the news briefing warned the opposition not to sling mud at the government on alleged misdeeds and misrule as the government has plenty of evidence to expose and prosecute a number of UPFA politicians.

For instance, we have information to prove that the ‘Siriliya Foundation’ led by Shiranthi Rajapaksa has misused funds meant for health projects and instructed the Peoples Bank and the National Savings Bank to divert money from those projects to ‘Siriliya Foundation’.
Another instance is the importation of three Lamborghini Sports cars without paying a cent as tax and keeping them despite the agreement to re-export the cars soon after the car race. The highly expensive sports cars had been imported in 2003.  

“We en-cashed the bank guarantees that had been placed on behalf of the three vehicles and collected Rs. 278 million. Now they asked us what we did about the Lamborghinis. This is what we have done for them. I warned the UPFA to sling mud at us. If they continue to do that, we would take all their skeletons out of the cupboard,”  he said.