Written by Keshala Dias
24 Apr, 2018 | 8:41 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Former Central Bank Governor, Arjuna Mahendran, and Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, are wanted by Sri Lankan courts over serious acts of fraud and corruption. However, they have not been brought back to Sri Lanka for these legal proceedings.
INTERPOL issued red notices on Mahendran and Weeratunga, and the latter is currently being detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). UAE authorities arrested Weeratunga on March 26th. Inspector General of Police (IGP), Pujith Jayasundara, today (April 24) said requests have been made to deport former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, adding it depends on the decision of the UAE. The IGP noted that if the UAE institutes legal action against Weeratunga over the reason for his arrest, Sri Lanka cannot interfere in that process.
The Sri Lanka Police believes they can arrest Former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran in the coming days, and bring him to Sri Lanka as the conditions in Singapore are different from those in the UAE.
Udayanga Weeratunga has been named as the chief suspect in the case on the controversial purchase of MiG fighter aircraft. News 1st has learned that the UAE called on Sri Lanka to make a request for Weeratunga’s extradition. However, it has come to light that an extradition treaty between Sri Lanka and the UAE, which was inked in 2009, has not been ratified in parliament and that this poses an obstruction to the process of bringing Weeratunga to the country.
A senior government official said though there is no extradition treaty, attempts can be made to bring back Udayanga Weeratunga under the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Sri Lanka will have to present facts on the matter during legal proceedings instituted in the UAE. Investigating officers claim the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UAE, Sulaiman Jiffry Mohideen, is not providing sufficient cooperation in the process, in a backdrop where he is the official responsible for playing a crucial role in the process. Owing to this, authorities have been compelled to spend Rs. 12 million for assistance from a private attorney based in the United Arab Emirates.
Sulaiman Jiffry Mohideen was appointed as Ambassador after the present government came into power, he was once a member of the UNP Working Committee and is a close associate of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Arjuna Mahendran, a Singapore national is wanted for a case filed by the Criminal Investigations Department over the Central Bank treasury bond scam. At present, there is an existing extradition agreement between Sri Lanka and Singapore that enables authorities to arrest Mahendran and bring him to Sri Lanka. Experts point out that the process can be easily put into force as both Sri Lanka and Singapore are commonwealth nations. Yet, the cooperation of the Sri Lankan High Commission to Singapore is paramount to locate, arrest and extradite Mahendran.
Attorney-at-Law Nimal Weeraratne serves as the High Commissioner to Singapore and he once briefly served as the Treasurer of the UNP.
In 2016 after losing his position as Governor of the Central Bank, Arjuna Mahendran who was appointed chief of the five-year programme by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, toured Singapore with PM Wickremasinghe. The tour was coordinated by Nimal Weeraratne. Nimal Weeraratne is also a Senior Partner at a legal firm known as VARNERS.
According to its website, Mahinda Haradasa is also listed as a partner. Mahinda Haradasa is a member of the UNP Working Committee and served in the director board of SriLankan Airlines.
Will the diplomats in the UAE and Singapore who are close associates of UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, cooperate to bring back Udayanga Weeratunga and Arjuna Mahendran?
Is there any possibility of bringing the suspects to Sri Lanka without sufficient cooperation from them?
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