Former Inland Revenue Assistant Commissioner Ananda Ambepitiya was today sentenced to 14 months in jail by the Colombo High Court after he pleaded guilty to the charge of having been involved in the Rs.3.9 billion VAT scam.
The VAT scam is considered as one of the biggest frauds in South Asia.
Colombo High Court Judge Kumuduni Wickremasinghe sentenced the second accused, a former IRD assistant commissioner Ananda Ambepitiya, to 14 months rigorous imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to the first count. The Judge imposed a fine of Rs.500,000. The rest of charges levelled against the accused were withdrawn by the Attorney General. The prosecutors alleged that the Assistant Commissioner had granted permission to refund VAT payments without conducting an inquiry and thereby had neglected his duties as a government officer.
Meanwhile, the eleventh accused Salawudeen Mohamed Ashraff a businessman was ordered to pay a fine of Rs.60 million and two years of rigorous imprisonment after being found guilty of the charge of having fraudulently received Rs.16.5 million.
The Judge warned that the property belonging to the accused would be confiscated if he was unable to pay the fine.
The defence counsel told Court that the two accused who were allegedly involved in the fraud case were in remand custody for seven years and that this fact be considered when sentenced was passed.
Meanwhile, the Court ordered that a property belonging to the tenth accused Selliah Subramaniam who had been sentenced earlier be confiscated since he was unable to pay the fine of Rs.100 million imposed by Court.
On a previous occasion, the tenth accused Selliah Subramaniam, a businessman was sentenced to 13 months rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs.100 million when he was found guilty to the charge of Rs.646 million as VAT refunds from the IRD.
The 13the accused Rizwin alias Abdul Kareem was sentenced to one year’s rigorous imprisonment and fined one million rupees after he was found guilty of having received Rs.188 million as VAT refunds. The 14th accused Shabdeen Abdulla was sentenced to eight months rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs.50,000 after he was found guilty of preparing false documents to facilitate the fraud.
The trial is being heard in the absence of eight accused -- Rasheed Mohamed Murshida, Bakeer Mohamed Riyaz, Mohamed Zubair Fawzil Amami, M. Ameer Irshad, N.A. Mohamed Nasmi, Mohamed Kamil Kuthubdeen and Abdul Mohamed Saafi, who are said to have left the country. The case was taken up with A. Gunasiri de Soyza Jayatillake, Ananda Wickremesinghe Ambepitiya, Sinnaiah Subramaniiyam, Saludeen Mohamed Ashraff, Mohamed Ismail Riswin and Sahabdeen Abdullah present in court. The AG had listed 251 as witnesses. The trial was postponed for May 16.
Deputy Solicitor General Buvaneka Aluvihare appeared for the prosecution while President’s Counsel Anil de Silva with Shanaka Ranasinghe PC appeared for the accused. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)