The Sunday Leader

Legal Action Slow Against Ethanol Mafia

by Nirmala Kannangara

Additional Solocitor General’s letter to Customs Department that they will not appear for the Customs Director, Government Analyst report that shows that the ethanol that was illegally imported contains 95% of Ethyl Alcohol and Superintendent of Custom
D.P.M. Gunawardena’s report that states how Jayalath threatened the
Customs Officers

With the exposure of how certain UPFA politicians were involved in the illegal importation of ethanol to the country, action is yet to be taken by the Attorney General’s Department against them as revealed by Finance Minister, Ravi Karunanayake, recently. Startling revelations have come to light as to how one of these accused parliamentarians, who now holds a portfolio in the new government is continuously involved in the illegal ethanol importation racket and also allegedly avoiding the payment of Customs duties when importing certain other goods.

Kachchkaduge Arundika Wickramarachchi Fernando, alias Arundika Fernando, who holds the portfolio of Deputy Tourism and Christian Affairs Minister, and Muttiah Sasidharan, brother of former Sri Lankan spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan, together with some of their partners are accused of importing ethanol in an illegal manner over the past few years depriving the country billions of rupees in way of taxes during the former Rajapaksa regime.

 

Penalised by Customs

The Sunday Leader newspaper is in possession of documents to prove how allies of Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando and Muttiah Sasidharan were penalised by Sri Lanka Customs and had later released the consignments back to the importer.

“If the investigations reveal that the importer had defrauded the Customs, the consignment has to be forfeited, if not it has to be charged thrice the amount of the value of the goods imported?” one of the Customs sources said.

According to Finance Minister, Ravi Karunanayake, the government has not received any support from the judiciary or from the Attorney General, to which The Sunday Leader has documents to prove the Finance Minister’s claim.

When a consignment of ethanol imported as ‘Propylene Glycol’ by D.P. Jayalath Krishan Peiris, was detected in 2010 by the then Director (Preventive) Revenue Task Force (RTF) K. Ranjan, the accused who was carrying out the illegal importation together with MP Arundika Fernando in order to obstruct the investigation, had sought the court approval to get the goods released stating that the Director (Preventing) of the RTF had detained the cargo due to a personal grudge. In his affidavit, the accused Peiris had explained, this personal grudge was due to voting against the Director Preventing for the post of Chairman in the election held at Gymkhana Club a few years ago.

Although the then Government Analyst, T.R.N.M. Liyanarachchi, in a letter dated January 7, 2011 to the Superintendent of Customs had stated that the detected consignment of ethanol contained 95 per cent of Ethyl Alcohol, when the Customs Department requested the Attorney General’s Department to appear for the Director Preventive in the case the accused had filed, the then Additional Solicitor General Y.J.W. Wijayathilake who is now the Attorney General in a letter dated March 3, 2011 to the Director General of Customs  had informed the Customs Department that it would be inappropriate for the Attorney General to appear for Director Preventive K. Ranjan as the allegations leveled against him are personal in nature and that he should be permitted to retain private Counsel to counter the allegations made against him if they are untrue.

 

Consignment detected

“The consignment was detected and detained by the then Director Preventive RTF and it was proved that the said imported Propylene Glycol was ethanol and it contained 95 per cent Ethyl Alcohol by the Government Analyst. The importer may have had a grudge with our Director Preventive at that time but this officer did not detain this consignment for a grudge but since the stock was not Propylene Glycol which is a chemical to manufacture paint but Ethyl Alcohol. It was so surprising as to how the then Additional Solicitor General without considering the Government Analyst report accepted the accused affidavit and informed the Customs Department that the Attorney General’s Department will not appear for the public officer in courts. When the Attorney General’s Department is there to appear for public officers this course of act by the Additional Solicitor General was dubious,” sources added.

Sources further said how the accused Jayalath Peiris when produced before Acting Magistrate Colombo Magistrate Court No:3, by the Customs Official was released on bail and sent home wanting him to come back two days after (the following day was a government holiday) to sign the bail papers.

“As rightly stated by our minister Ravi Karunanayake, the Judiciary too was not helpful when tried to bring crooks to book as there are many instances where the suspects who defraud the customs department are political stooges. In this particular instance since Jayalath was interfering with the investigations,” sources claimed.

Under section 127 A of the Customs Ordinance the Director-General is of the opinion that such a capable of interfering with the investigation or that the nature of the offence is such that it is desirable to keep that person in custody for the proper investigation of the offence for more than 24 hours, he shall produce such person before a Magistrate.

Under Section 127 C, no person suspected or accused of an offence under the Customs Ordinance in respect of any goods the value of which exceeds one million rupees, shall be released on bail except by the High Court, in exceptional circumstances. The power conferred on the High Court by this section shall be exercised by the Judge of the High Court held in the Zone within which the accused resides or the Judge of the High Court held in the Zone within which the offence is alleged to have been committed.

“However, when Jayalath was produced before the Acting Magistrate, he was given bail at once and released immediately wanting him to come back in two days to sign the bail papers,” sources added.

Sources further alleged as to how the Customs officers wanted the magistrate when Jayalath came to sign the bail papers objected in granting him bail as he was interfering with the investigation process.

The report dated January 23, 2014 by D.P.M. Gunawardena, Superintendent of Customs in a report on complicity of Jayalath Peiris and T.S.I. Silva two of the accused penalized in ethanol smuggling cases clearly states as to how Jayalath threatened the Customs officers who were conducting the investigations.

The report states as thus, “Jayalath had been in remand in connection with an illegal importation of ethanol consigned to one of his companies called Network Seven (Pvt) Ltd and detected by the RTF. Customs officers at RTF had reported to the Hon. Magistrate that Jayalath threatened them to harm their lives and firearms have been obtained by these officers for their personal safety. Present DGC Jagath Wijeweera is well aware of this incident as he was informed in writing about this matter when Pradeep Nanayakkara brother-in-law of Jayalath abused the Customs Inquiring officer inside the CIB office in the presence of Jayalath when the Customs inquiry was in progress”.

 

Nabbed twice

However, on later occasions to Jayalath Krishan Peiris had been nabbed twice by the Customs Department for importing Ethanol but declaring the consignments as Palm Oil where on one occasion he had to pay a penalty of Rs. 15 million, it is learnt. The Customs investigations have meanwhile unearth how parliamentarian Arundika Fernando was working hand in glove with Jayalath Peiris and how this MP too were involved in this illegal ethanol importation.

“This Parliamentarian is not only involved in this illegal ethanol importation but defrauding the customs in importing other goods as well. In 2013 the customs detected a container bearing number APZU 4249623 containing urinal sensors imported by Ms Senura Trading (Pvt) Ltd by under valuing the consignment. MP Arundika Fernando (NIC 712592435V) of No: 65, Wallwatta, Dankotuwa is a Director of the said Senura Trading from July 6, 2013,” sources said.

According to sources, in 2011, 28,800 litres of ethanol had been smuggled by Jayalath Peiris (Customs case no: CIU/ INV/ 01/ 2011) and has forfeited the stock and had imposed a penalty of Rs.Rs.5 lakhs.

Meanwhile, Axis Industries (Pvt) Ltd is allegedly another Ethyl Alcohol smuggling company which is evident that nothing other than alcohol had been imported under this company.

Tharun Sameera Indika Silva is the Secretary of Axis Industries who has admitted that he obtained the said company registration on the request of on the request of Ranga Samarakkody and arranged a loan of Rs.9.4 million from Muttiah Sasidharan.

Meanwhile, it had been proved with bank certified true copies of statement of accounts that Muttiah Sasidharan is a business partner of the alleged ethanol smuggler Jayalath Peiris who is also one of MP Arundika Fernando’s partners. As per current and savings account details of Jayalath Peiris transaction to the tune of millions of rupees have taken place between Peiris and Sasidharan during the period when outward remittances had been established through the same bank for Ethyl Alcohol consignments.

According to Customs details, in 2012 33, 250 litres of Ethanol imported by Indika Silva who is working hand in glove with Sasidharan had been detained (customs case no: STVD/ 2114/ 2012). This consignment had been released after imposing a penalty of Rs. 11.974 million. Another 33, 250 litres of Ethanol had been imported in the same year by the same importer Indika Siva (customs case no: PREV/ FPO/ 2246/ 2012) and the consignment had been detained. Meanwhile a stock of 40, 000 liters of Ethanol illegally imported by Ranga Samarakkody who too is doing businesses with Muttiah Sasidharan was detained and was later released after imposing a penalty of Rs. 13.65 million.

Meanwhile, Customs officials had appealed to the Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake under whom the Customs Departments comes to bring new regulations to take legal action against the illegal ethanol importers.

“If the law is so strict to arrest the drug smugglers or even against drug dealers, why cannot new regulations under the ‘Good Governance rule’ impose such laws against the illegal ethanol smugglers? By imposing a penalty and release the smuggled ethanol is not sufficient nor by forfeiting the stocks and auction them to the excise license holders is not sufficient. Also new laws should be introduced so neither the police nor the Judiciary and the Attorney General’s Department can be biased,” sources claimed.

Sources further said as to how the Officer in Charge of the Fort Police once wanted a Customs officer to come and give a statement for a complaint lodged by an ethanol smuggler.

“The police has no powers to ask a customs officer to give a statement against a complaint lodged by a ethanol smuggler. The protocol is to for the OIC to inform the IGP and the IGP to make a request to the Director General of Customs to ask the customs officer to come and give a statement to the IGP’s office. These are a few cases where the courts, the Attorney General’s Department and the police had taken sides of politicians and acted against the customs department preventing to bring the crooks to book,” sources said.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Ravi Karunanayake said that the appalling situation that prevails will be verified soon.

“We cannot allow these rackets to be continued. We are now in the process to intensify against these camps- in the judicial system, in the Attorney Generals Department and even in the Customs. After this government came into power we have been able to curtail these frauds to a certain extent and have recovered millions of taxes comparing to last year,” Karunanayake said.

 

9 Comments for “Legal Action Slow Against Ethanol Mafia”

  1. Polished

    Sack the attorney General, he is a bribe taker

  2. RINO

    No WONDER , WHY THE PRESENT ATTORNEY GENERAL FEELS ” RAKNA ARAKSHAKA LANKA” IS INNOCENT

    RINO

  3. MADAWA GUNASEKARA

    Entire Judiciary in this country need to change. Need a good re shuffle. Previous government officials haunting present government. AG is NO 1 CROOK.

  4. renu

    What is happening ? Is there any law in the country even in Yahapalanaya. Ranil & Maihri has to take stern steps even against the MPs, Ministers ho were involved in such cases , Otherwise please don’t come before the people for elections

  5. Herby Padmaperuma.

    THE HARDWORKING INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS AND THE SERVICE ORIENTED OWNERS OF A FEW PRIVATE NEWSPAPER GROUP , WHICH DEDICATE SO MUCH OF THEIR VALUABLE SPACE TO EDUCATE, INFORM AND EXPOSE THE VARIOUS, DIVERSIFIED NEFARIOUS ANTI SOCIAL ACTIVITIES; OF SMUGGLING ETHANOL AND OTHER SUSPICIOUS ITEMS, ARE INDEED PERFORMING NOT ONLY A SOCIAL ORIENTED SERVICE BUT ALSO A LOFTY NATIONAL DUTY, WHEN EVEN SOME OF THE PEPETRATORS ARE IN FACT GOVERNMENT MPS, TO THE UTTER DISARACE OF THE “YAHAPALANYA”. IF NOT FOR THESE REPORTS WE INNOCENT READERS ARE NEVER AWARE OF THE NEFARIOUS RACQUETS PREVAILING. INTO THIS DEADLY FRAUDULANT GAME AMONG THOSE INVOLVED ARE UNASHAMEDLY FLAGRANT GOVT.” BIG BOYS”,CUSTOM AND POLICE PERSONNEL “,ALONG WITH STRONG SO CALLED STATE OFFICIALS. THIS
    GAME HAS TO BE STOPPED AT ANY COST BY THE YASAPALANAYA. THIS IS OUR MONEY USURPED BY A FEW WELL TO DO GENTLEMANLY THUGS WITH THE BLESSINGS OF SOME GOVT BASTARDS. PEOPLE SHOULD NOW GET UP AND TAKE A GREATER INTEREST NOW THAT THE PRIVATE PRESS IS EXTENDING EVER SUPPORT.

  6. VIP T.Ruth

    Bloody nonsense. All are corrupt including the ones holding responsible positions in the country. It is a country belonging to mafia culture,

  7. kligon

    same old corrupt crap with different names…!!!

  8. HUGH Jay

    Who is running the country ? Government or these individuals? If finance minister can’t do his job he should resign and allow some one else to take over.

  9. laksiri

    remove all the people from attorney general office and get hire some expert lawyers from UK. some time better get UK law firm to do the attorney General job. when it come to poor general fonseka these guys were very active and when it comes to murders, drug dealers and weapon dealers they are sleeping. first of all attorney general must send home.

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