Tamil Diplomat

Sri Lanka to seek World Bank help in tracking down hidden assets

Sri Lanka is seeking World Bank help to track down assets hidden abroad, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said, with an ant-corruption watchdog due to visit Washington soon.

Minister Samaraweera said J C Weliamuna an anti-corruption activist and head of the Sri Lanka chapter of Transparent International, will visit Washington for talks with World Bank.

The government has already announced it will seek help from the IMF, World Bank and the Reserve bank of India to track down over five billion US dollars of cash suspected to have been stashed abroad, but the visit next week will be the first practical move to establish a mechanism to track down ill-gotten wealth.
Ministers of Sri Lanka’s Maithripala Sirisena administration have claimed that the members of the Rajapaksa regime skimmed off billions of dollars from inflated state contracts mainly awarded to China without tender.

But the new regime said Thursday it will go ahead with a 1.4 billion US dollar concession awarded to a Chinese company to reclaim and develop a ‘Port City’ in the main beachfront of the capital Colombo, after earlier slamming the project as an environmental disaster.

Financial Investigative Units were set up in many countries following a United Nations initiative spearheaded by developed countries.

Though Sri Lanka also has an FIU, Samaraweera said the country lacked expertise in tracking down complex money laundering networks involving Sri Lankans.

In the US, the Federal Bureau of Investigations has an Asset Forfeiture/Money Laundering Unit (AF/MLU) which seizes assets of criminal networks and also a Financial Intelligence Centre which is engaged in data analysis to combat crimes including those against governments.