US$ 527,000 in possession of Asoka Tillekeratne: Exchange Control Law violated
By Lakshmi DE SILVA
Feb 19, 2010

Asoka Tillekeratne being in possession of US Dollars 527,000 in crisp, unused, dollar notes of serial numbers in logical sequence was a blatant violation of Sri Lanka’s Exchange Control laws as a person could possess only US Dollars 2,000 legally. Holding any amount in excess of that amount was an offence punishable by law, Cabinet Spokesman Prof G.L. Peiris said yesterday.

Addressing the weekly Cabinet press briefing, he said holding such a large amount of undeclared foreign exchange that was earned by illegal or fraudulent means was a criminal offence. Such sums of money could not be legally used and may be used for money laundering. Such illegal sums of foreign exchange may be earned by gun-running, dealing in ammunition and drugs and a responsible Government cannot turn a blind eye or sweep an offence like that under the carpet.

The Law had to be enforced by taking the evidence before Courts and how such a large amount of foreign exchange came to be held in bank lockers had to be ascertained.

The normal procedure was to take a matter like this before the High Court and action had to be taken by indictment and no exception could be made to anyone in a case like this. The Court procedure was done with transparency and no one could say it was incorrect to prosecute an offender. Answering a question whether the Bank in question could not be prosecuted for violation of foreign exchange laws, Prof. Peiris said the suspect Asoka had obtained four lockers at the bank.

The procedure was for the bank to give lockers to customers to put valuables usually like jewellery or deeds and the keys are kept with the customer. They were not meant to hide mountains of money. Therefore, the bank was not aware of the things she had put into the four lockers and the bank was not liable for prosecution.

These lockers were opened in the presence of lawyers, officials and Asoka Tillekaratne and there were three different types of currencies in the lockers US Dollars 527,000. 100 Sterling Pounds and 15,000,000 Sri Lanka Rupees, he also said.

Courtesy: Daily News