Two Bank of Ceylon (BoC) accounts operated by former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M. Hizbullah had received over Rs. 4 billion in terms of foreign funds within a period of three years before the Easter Sunday terror attacks, according to what transpired during deliberations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing Easter Sunday attacks.
Testifying before the Commission, former BoC Bank Manager of Colpetty Branch I.C.K. Kannangara said that Hizbullah had operated five accounts at Colpetty branch.
However, evidence had been led before the Commission pertaining to two accounts named Sri Lanka Hira Foundation and Batticaloa Campus Private Ltd, out of five accounts operated by Hizbullah.
“The two accounts were current accounts. Sri Lanka Hira Foundation account had received foreign funds on fifteen occasions and Batticaloa Campus Private Ltd. account had received foreign funds on seven occasions during the period between 2016 and 2019,” the witness said.
According to the Financial Transaction Regulation Act (FTRA) in Central Bank, transactions on an account receiving more than one million, have to be reported to Central Bank.
However, during the testimony it was informed to the Commission that BoC had never reported details pertaining to transactions involving such large sums operated by Hizbullah, to the Central Bank.
“Customer service managers at the BoC Colpetty Branch had informed that these funds were suspicious and it had been reported to the Compliance Division of BoC Head Office. However, the head office had reported that they didn’t find these transactions were suspicious,” the witness said.
However, after the Easter Sunday terror attack, the bank had reported to Central Bank that these transactions were suspicious and accordingly the Central Bank had made a complaint before the Financial Investigation Unit (FIU).
The witness said that the first account, Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, had been opened on August 18, 1993, as a social service organisation operated account.
The witness also said that the Bank had received the registration certificate from the Department of Social Services in September, 1993, one month after opening the account.
Earlier, it was revealed to the Commission that the particular registration certificate from the Social Services Department produced by Hizbullah, was a forge document.
According to the details mentioned in the documents, Hizbullah’s Sri Lanka Hira Foundation account had received Rs. 313 million within the period between 2016-2019 through fifteen transactions. “All the transactions happened through Inheritance Ali Abdullah Al Juffali by US City Bank, Siddique Diana Osamn by HSBC and Credential Ltd by Lloyds bank, Britain,” the witness said.
Moving to the second account, Batticaloa Campus Private Ltd. the witness informed the Commission that the account had been opened on September 09, 2016 and it had received Rs. 3.6 billion foreign funds within the period of 2016 -2019.
It was also informed to the Commission that the foreign funds pertaining to the second account were received through Inheritance Ali Abdullah Al Juffali, a Charity, that wired some USD 24.5 million to the Batticaloa Campus between 2016 and 2017. (Yoshitha Perera)