And now,a Garlic Scam? Here’s your #GarlicScam 101

And now, a Garlic Scam? Here’s your #GarlicScam 101

by Staff Writer 15-09-2021 | 12:26 PM

COLOMBO (News 1st); First things first: Lanka Sathosa is meant to retail goods at government controlled-prices especially for low-income consumers. So, goods imported to be retailed at Lanka Sathosa would be available to consumers at a subsidized price.

But what happens when goods meant to be retailed to low-income consumers are pilfered out of the Port and then sold to businesses, who then sell it at exorbitant market prices?

This is what appears to have taken place in a case of blatant corruption that is unraveling itself in plain sight of hapless Sri Lankan consumers.

Here are the details.

Yesterday, four employees at Lanka Sathosa Limited were sent on compulsory leave following the expose’, which involved container loads of garlic being cleared from the Port and then sold illegally under the pretext of shipping them to Lanka Sathosa.

At the same time, a complaint was also filed with the Criminal Investigations Department on Tuesday (14), by the importer of the said consignments of garlic.

The importer was identified as Enricher Investment Lanka (Pvt) Ltd and noted in their claim that two out of 18 freight containers with garlic imported by them were pilfered out of the Port.

Attorney-at-Law Harith Hettiarachchi appearing for the complainant told reporters that although on paper it is said that the stocks were released to Sathosa, that had not taken place.

‘Corrupt officials at the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and Sathosa are selling off essential food items and we are seeking an investigation from the CID into this matter,’ he said.

The Backstory

On the 09th of September 2021, the Consumer Affairs Authority carried out a surprise inspection on imported essential food items. Chairman of the CAA Thushan Gunawardena said a Sathosa employee tipped the CAA noting that an illegal transaction was taking place at the Sathosa warehouse in Welisara.

“Our investigation team found that two freight containers with over 56,000 kilograms of garlic,” he said adding the investigation led to the conclusion that illegal activity had taken place.

In addition, the Welisara store manager had been instructed by head office to release the consignment without invoices, which is an illegal practice, he added.

He said the CAA has informed the CID to conduct an investigation as well.

The consignment which was sold on the 09th of September was traced to a location in Seeduwa on Tuesday (14), said the CAA Chairman.

‘Officers found that the CID has already taken two containers in their custody. But there are reports that the containers have been unloaded and the garlic was sold to outside vendors through this warehouse,’ he added.

This incident comes in the wake of allegations of importers hoarding essential items such as Sugar and rice, making unconscionable profits as demand increases.