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Sri Lanka Bribery Commission has filed to act on Pandora Papers revelation re leading politicians

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) have so far failed to start any investigation into the Sri Lankans mentioned in the Pandora Papers, reports Ceylon Today.

The Pandora Papers are 11.9 million leaked documents with 2.9 terabytes of data that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published, beginning on 3 October 2021.

The leak exposed the secret offshore accounts of 35 world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers, and heads of State as well as more than 100 billionaires, celebrities and business leaders.

The documents revealed how Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband, businessman Thirukumar Nadesan, had used secretive shell companies and trusts to accumulate more than USD 18 million in tax havens and own artworks and luxury properties in London and Sydney.

Both, the IRD and the CIABOC have started preliminary investigations in this regard, but no person has been questioned so far.

On 13 October 2021, it was stated to the media that a special investigation was initiated in accordance with the powers assigned to the Inland Revenue Department regarding the matter.

Also, in September 2021, the CIABOC had also started several investigations in this connection.

When JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake questioned the government on 8 March 2022, in Parliament under the Standing Order 27/2, as to whether there was any investigation launched to into the Sri Lankans mentioned in Pandora Papers, then Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando said that an investigation has been started and the report will be submitted to the parliament within a week. However, no such report has been received by Parliament so far as well.

Accordingly, it has been over two years, but the IRD or the CIABOC have failed to initiate investigations into the matter and no one has been questioned either.

Ceylon Today also learns that the IRD needs to collect a lot of information such as checking the files related to the tax payments of the people mentioned in the Pandora papers, information regarding tax evasion and information required by the Court, but the work has not been done properly. Accordingly, the IRD should look into tax evasion, illegal accumulation of wealth and money laundering by individuals including businessmen and politicians.

He also stated that IRD has not fulfilled its responsibilities properly according to the Inland Revenue Act No. 24 of 2017 and the Inland Revenue (Amendment) Act No. 45 of 2022.

In this regard, IRD Commissioner General W.A.S. Chandrasekara, when queried, said “You can find out about this from the media officer of the IRD. I will tell him to contact you. He will give you information about this. I will give him your phone number.”.

However, no response was received even though 85 phone calls were made to the phone number 0112135300.

On 6 September 2021, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed the CIABOC to conduct an immediate investigation into the facts revealed about Sri Lanka by the Pandora papers and provide the report within a month.

Meanwhile, writing to the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Thirukumar Nadesan claimed that he guarantees that he and his wife are completely innocent and not guilty of any crime.

He has further requested the President to appoint an independent investigator, such as a retired Court of Appeal Judge to investigate the matter as he and his wife have been affected by this incident.

However, when the CIABOC was contacted to inquire about this, Commissioner K.B. Rajapaksa said to inquire about the matter from the CIABOC secretary.

Accordingly, the CIABOC secretary was contacted after 22 calls through telephone numbers 0112596363 and 0112563713, but she stated that she could not comment on the matter to the media and that the media department should be contacted for that.

More than 100 calls were made to the CIABOC’s media unit’s phone number 0112550062 provided by the secretary, but no response was received.

By Mithun Jayawardhana/ CT

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