Finance Ministry Affirms Probe Into “Seychelles” Operations

An official audit and investigation process will be initiated to inquire into the non-strategic investments at Seychelles, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said.

“Seychelles is a country reputed worldwide as a tax haven has a handful of Sri Lankans living there as expatriates. Another issue of concern is to rationalize the reason for an international Branch of a state Bank to be established at Seychelles. Our government will ensure a critical analysis and an in depth evaluation pertaining to the viability of such an operation,” Karunanayake said in his statement to Parliament on Thursday.

Planning and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva earlier told Asian Mirror that there were various ways through which the government could conduct investigations.

“We can seek the assistance of private auditors and proceed with the matter. At the same time, we can conduct inquires with the help of the Stolen Assets Recovery Programme of the World Bank. The government can assure the public that no one will be able to hide the ‘stolen assets’ in Seychelles and dodge local law enforcement mechanism,” the Deputy Minister said.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, nearly seven months before his exit from office, opened a Sri Lankan High Commission in Seychelles while setting up a branch of the Bank of Ceylon in the island.

Despite its population which does not exceed 90,000, Mihin Lanka, an airline started under directives from former President Rajapaksa, started a direct flight to the island last year.

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