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Monday, 09 March 2015 09:42

Sri Lanka Govt. seeks UK assistance to trace hidden assets Featured

Published in Provincial News

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe during his recent visit to the United Kingdom has held negotiations with the Serious Fraud Office in London to seek assistance in tracing hidden assets in the UK, belonging to Sri Lankan politicians.


He visited the Serious Fraud Office, during his recent visit to the United Kingdom.
“They expressed willingness to support us in investigating bribery and corruption. They said they were willing to come to Sri Lanka and have further discussions. In addition to that, they also offered to provide technical support,” Mr.Rajapakshe has told Daily News.
Rajapakshe said he also briefed the Cabinet and the Prime Minister on the progress of his engagement with the Serious Fraud Office in London.
The Serious Fraud Office is an independent government department in the UK, operating under the superintendence of the Attorney General.
It has authority to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute those who commit serious or complex fraud, bribery and corruption and pursuing them and others for the proceeds of their crime. It operates in line with its statutory purpose and policies.
Top diplomatic sources told the Daily News that the Serious Fraud Office in the UK would work hand in hand with Sri Lankan authorities to trace assets belonging to prominent politicians.
It has been revealed that several prominent politicians - including certain Cabinet ministers of the previous government- have purchased properties in the UK, under their real names and those of proxies.
This process will be independent from the investigation which is being carried out by the Stolen Assets Recovery Programme of the World Bank whose representatives visited Sri Lanka last week.
They held a series of discussions with top government bodies and representatives including Policy Planing and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told the media yesterday that billions of rupees amounting to nearly 75 percent of the Budget deficit have been illegally deposited in three countries - Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland - by leaders of the former government and top officials. According to him, preliminary investigations had revealed the names of the persons holding the accounts and other details.