A financial fraud involving the loss of vital foreign exchange earnings beyond calculation had been caused to country through the smuggling out of large stocks of gems since 2013, Chairman of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority Asanke Welagedara said.
He said the fraud was uncovered as a result of a state audit.
He said the large-scale fraud had occurred by way of a voucher system called the ‘N.N.S’, costing an annual fee of Rs.1,500 US dollars that allowed for any number of gems to be taken outside of the country without question.
The current Chairman said the voucher system had been implemented by the former Chairman of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority Amithe Gamage, under the directive of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
He said the issuing of the voucher was restricted to businessmen close to the former President and had his cronies. All objections to this voucher system had been disregarded, he said. 145 vouchers had been issued during the tenure of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Chairman Asanke Welagedara said President Maithripala Sirisena had directed the Authority to cancel the voucher system and introduce a better system through which the country would cease to lose foreign earnings. He said the Authority hoped to introduce the new system by May 15,