By Yoshitha Perera
The former directors of ETI and Swarnamahal Jewelers (Pvt) Ltd. who were arrested yesterday in connection with the Money Laundering Act were ordered to be remanded till March 30 by the Colombo Fort Magistrates Court. When the case was taken up before Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage, Senior Deputy Solicitor General (SDIG) Haripriya Jayasundara said that charges have been filed against the suspects Finance Business Act and Money Laundering Act.
“A fresh, proper inquiry has been commenced now by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to trace the origin of the money which had come in a unauthorized manner,” SDIG Jayasundara said.
Jeevaka Edirisinghe, Nalaka Edirisinghe, Asanka Edirisinghe and Anjali Edirisinghe were arrested on the instructions of the Attorney General on March 16.
SDSG Haripriya Jayasundara informed that the ETI and Swarnamahal had faced a serious financial crisis in 2012 but had continued to accept deposits even after impositions of Central Bank regulations.
“By the time the Central Bank appointed a Financial Management Board in 2018 to take full control of the two institutions, ETI had liabilities of Rs.6.4 billion and Swarnamahal of Rs.7.2 billion,” she said. She further explained that the total deposits of Rs.13.6 billion had been maintained by these institutions as undisclosed accounts in a manner not subject to Central Bank regulation. Accordingly, the SDSG Jayasundara said that these former directors had committed the offences of fraud and breach of criminal trust mentioned in the Penal Code. She also pointed out that the suspects had also maintained black money accounts which is an offence under the Money Laundering Act in maintaining accounts not disclosed to the Central Bank. Meanwhile, President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne appearing on behalf of the suspects informed the Court since January 2.2018 ETI was handled by the Central Bank and under authorisation of Central Bank, Swarnamahal had been also sold to another party.
“Swarnamahal had been sold and that money has been used to repay depositors. Shares were also transferred to the Central Bank,” he said.
He added that there wasn’t an iota of evidence to frame charges against these suspects and to remand them.