The government is to change the legal framework of the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) in a manner that would allow any party or individual to lodge complaints with the unit.
Presently, the FCID headed by DIG Ravi Waidyalankara, can only investigate complaints referred to it by the Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The government’s new move will allow any person or party to lodge a complaint with the Financial Crimes Unit without changing the role of the Cabinet Sub-Committee.
President Maithripala Sirisena has had lengthy discussions with several prominent legal experts in this regard.
“The new provision will not affect the structure or the composition of the Financial Crimes Investigations Division. It will only broaden the scope of the unit,” informed legal sources told the Daily News yesterday.
“For the first time in recent history, large scale financial crimes have now come under public spotlight due to the conduct of the FCID. Speedy action has been taken and suspects have been prosecuted. We explained the legal framework of the FCID to the President. There is no issue with the structure or the composition of the unit. But, if someone feels that the investigations are carried out with political motives, the scope of the FCID can be enhanced without disrupting its legal framework. That will allay the fears of such parties,” a legal expert who wished to remain anonymous added.
“The FCID is comprised of several highly capable officers in the Police Department. One should not forget the fact that investigations into financial crimes are highly complicated. Not many officers in the Police Department are familiar with such investigations. Over the past few weeks, the FCID has shown remarkable progress on investigations into large scale financial scams. That is why this unit has sent shock waves across certain political circles,” he explained.
“President Sirisena has no plans to disband the FCID,” he said.
This move comes against a backdrop where UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha has strongly criticised the conduct of the FCID saying the entire process of recording statements and producing suspects in court was biased, unethical and illegal.
The SLFP General Secretary said he would take legal action against the procedure adopted by the FCID.
He added that the seniors of the party have already made the President aware of their position on this matter.
At the meeting with the SLFP seniors, President Sirisena has promised to look into the matter.
However, at a discussion that took place at the Parliamentary Complex on Wednesday, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa raised concerns over investigations carried out by the Bribery Commission and the FCID.
In response, President Sirisena said any person can seek refuge in the country’s judiciary in the face of injustice.
The mandate of the FCID is to investigate large scale financial crimes including grievous financial crimes, corruption and massive unauthorised projects, crimes against public funds and property, grievous crimes against national security, public finance, health and environment, unlawful enrichment and misuse of official powers and investigating into the money laundering funding of terrorists and illegal transactions.
The division was established under Article 55 (Chapter 53) of the Police Ordinance.
Rasika Jayakody /CDN