MONEY LAUNDERING, TERRORISM AND DESPERATE FOR INVESTMENT IN SRI LANKA
Posted on April 4th, 2019

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

The yahapalana regime initiated with the 2015 presidential election had undisclosed motives and a deformed face in its operation to the country and the pattern of its operation showed that it was associated with highly dishonest elements. At the outset, Mr. Maithrepala Sirisena didn’t know about the president of the party (Swan Party – Shaleela Munasinghe) he was supposed to contest in 2015 and later the president of the swan party was arrested for a cybercrime and cheating a bank in Taiwan. Several Chief Buddhist monks, clergies in other religions such as Christianity and Hinduism, university academics, trade union leaders and NGO personnel associated with so-called Good governance movement without knowing the true picture of the movement, which was using fabricated information with a view to defeating the Rajapaksa regime which has been comparatively performing a better work for the country than previous regimes. 

The mainly associated political party with the yahapalana movement was the United National Party and several minor parties such as Jatika Helaurumaya, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Tamil National Alliance, Muslim Congress and other small Marxist parties also supported to the alliance. Minor Parties associated with the movement may have due to hidden objectives, but they did not disclose such objectives to the public. Did international supports, especially from Western democratic countries to the yahapalana movement extend with a clear understanding of the hidden motives of the movement, was an unresolved question so far, however, India supported to the movement was not because of a pure reason for re-establishing good governance in Sri Lanka, but it also appeared that a disguised reason of India was to oppose Chinese relations and investments in Sri Lanka.

It could also assume that Marxist political parties and trade unions, which had a strong abominate with UNP and Western capitalist countries to associate with the yahapalana movement was no other reason than gaining monetary benefits from the large financial benefits offered from the Obama regime to re-establish democracy in the world. The yahapalana movement under the leadership of Rev. Sobitha may had an honest intention and unexpected death of Rev Sobitha began to unfold hidden elements. At present it seems that the supporters of the yahapala movement atrocious to talk about the support and the role played during the yahapalana administration. 

In fact, People had a doubt about the unholy alliance and now many unknown facts are emerging.  My aim of this article is to consider investment-related factors to discuss, there may have been developing many political objectives, they are not my major points.

The environment of Sri Lanka is quite vulnerable to money laundering and terrorism.  Internationally, many major countries such as the USA, European Union, China, Russia, Japan, Korea, and others have a reasonable suspicion that Sri Lanka could be used to money laundering and terrorist activities as the attitudes of its people and political parties have a greediness for money and such a situation could be used to money laundering in the name of investment.  Especially Sri Lanka has a good environment to use for Islamic terrorism and money laundering as the country desperate for attracting investment.  For example, a reason decision of the government to lay foundation stone for an oil refinery in Mirriggavila, Hambantota had many questions and newspapers reported that certain ministers of the government, who were responsible for the investment were running overseas to make sure whether the proposed investment was a scam or an act for money laundering eye washing of Sri Lankans.  During the LTTE war, Sri Lanka was subject to directly using for terrorism and after the elimination of terrorist war, money laundering in the name of investment made possible as the country wanted more investments to fix war damages and finding effective solutions for economic hardships incurred resulting massive war spending.

It is assumable that the yahapalana movement had secret underhand elements of money laundering, terrorism and other disguise purposes with the members of associated political parties. The leaders of such political parties may have unknown the hidden elements as the priority of the leaders of political parties was winning election obtaining the support of whoever was willing to extend.  The nature of money laundering and terrorism is disguisedly working for achieving objectives and the nature of Sri Lanka at that time was to focus on purely defeating the Rajapaksa regime and without a common work program. They formed an ad hoc union and people of the country disappointed about the movement as they were concerned on many outstanding economic, social and cultural issues that were not discussed in a program to defeat the Rajapaksa regime.

Money laundering defines (internet) as “the process of making a large amount of money generated by a criminal activity such as drug trafficking or terrorist funding appears to have come from a legitimate source.  Money from criminal activity is considered dirty and the process launders it to make it look clean.  Money laundering is itself a crime.”  

The Colombo Port City was initiated in the last period of the Rajapaksa regime and it had an original plan to develop the city to attract investment and provide a considerable volume of employment. I published several articles on this project as it was fundamentally changing the economic and investment pattern of Sri Lanka.  During 2015 the presidential and general elections Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe and the Yahapalana contributors badly criticized the project and promised to stop the project should they come to power.  The main argument was that the project would be subjected to environmental damage and create problems to poor fishing community in North Colombo and Negombo areas 

The original project did not focus on creating a financial service center with a view to attracting black or money earns from criminal activities and China as an experienced country of detecting money laundering, the Port City Development Project had potential to attract legitimate investments and had a trust of Sri Lanka’s government to protect the country from illegal dealings.  However, the Yahapalana regime, despite the promises given during elections in 2015 did not stop as stated, however, the project was changed to a financial city and the purpose of changing the project was questionable. The change in the purpose of the project created several issues in the country.  As the project initiated by the Rajapaksa regime, the land area was a part of Sri Lanka except the portion given to China and the land was subject to the law of the country in which money laundering is illegal.  The dishonest elements of the Yahapalanaya changed the original project converting to a financial city, most probably with an intention to use it for money laundering purposes.

Now land reclamation using outside soil has already completed and the government has a role to make legal reforms of the country to change the existing applicable law in the area to open for investment activities and existing law of the country concerns on inward remittances and outward remittances.  To attract foreign investment for financial services, it should allow money coming from outside and transfer to outside.  In this process, there will be opportunity to money laundering and recently media reported that the government wants to change the exchange legislation, why the government desperate for such legal reforms. The relaxation of existing legal conditions should be based on the foreign exchange reserves of the country and when Sri Lanka has an environment that the monetary unit of the country has a trend to radically depreciated against hard currencies of overseas, why the government wants to relax current exchange regulations?

The political parties associated with the Yahapalanaya was silent on the changes of the project and the current experience in Sri Lanka in relation to drug business clearly show that Sri Lanka needs an authoritative government leader who can take firm decisions to prevent and control different faces of investments for money laundering.  No sooner the presidential election completed in 2015, dishonest elements of the yahapalanaya emerged and commenced with the Central Bank Bond Scam and the regime was reluctant to take legal against the criminal elements of the party heavyweights. In October 2018, the president had to change the government as the prime minister of the government has not taken appropriate action to eliminate corrupt practices of the government and supposed to authorize the new constitution which possibly allows the disunity of the country, which might support illegal criminal activity such as money laundering as the constitutional reforms focus creating more powerful provincial governments which cannot be controlled by the central government.

The hidden elements of constitutional reforms did not broadly debate as the committee to the constitutional reforms failed to submit a draft constitution and if the draft was submitted, people would have opportunity to debate potential problems in the future in relat1ion to money laundering and terrorism with the new constitution.  Therefore, the writing of new constitution is not an overnight job, it needs considering many aspects and it might take more than three years to consolidate broad spectrum of views.  

The other area of the investment policy of the yahapalana regime is the hidden potential of its association with terrorism.  Sri Lanka eliminated open terrorism of LTTE movement in 2009, however, ISIS terrorism is working around the world, which shows different faces that may be in the form of a formal religion or another type of human services that are quite difficult to identify. After 2009, there were small-scale conflicts in the country in various places such as Beruwala, Kandy and the culprits of the conflicts have an association with yahapalana advocates is general opinion of people and so-called potential investors might indirectly or directly support to terrorist elements.

Generally, terrorism defines in the broad sense that “the use of intentional violence as a mean to create terror among masses of people or fear to achieve a religious or political aim.  It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during the peace time or in a war against non-combatants”.  As people of Sri Lanka was fully aware LTTE terrorism created terror among masses of people and now the face of terrorism appears that it has different techniques and religious aims. There was some information that certain people of Sri Lanka associated with international terror groups and this means that terrorism can associate with investment in Sri Lanka. Although the investors have no intention to create terror among masses of people in Sri Lanka, there may be camouflaged aims with investments.  When the country desperate for foreign direct investment it would be a greensward for terrorism focused investors.

The above discussion showed that money laundering and terrorism are variables that need to be a part of investment analysis.  Traditionally investment analysis focus on very conservative variables, which are analysed on either manipulated data or estimate based past recorded data.  The worksheet of analysis generates results for human decision making and there are many hidden points that are ignored or purposely disregarded or deliberately in cold-shoulder with the influences of various incentives to analyser or due to the political influences. Politicians in the government of Sri Lanka are audacious as they want statistics that shows evidence that they bought foreign investment.  The general attitudes of people are that when foreign direct investment comes, economic development and growth process would be stimulated to provide more employment opportunities.

Sometimes ago I had reviewed credit decisions and analysis in a major government bank in Sri Lanka and found that analysts used a weak process and inappropriate techniques for credit analysis.  The vicious aspect of the analysis was bribery and political influences which prevented generating accurate outcomes from the analysis and generated highly unprofitable and contrite results to the bank.  When it considers the investment analysis from that point of views, it can be assumed that investment analysis in Sri Lanka is not a reliable and does not consider essentially required points in the analysis process.

Traditionally investment analysis considers location and investors financial strength and economic aspects in which direct or indirect economic benefits such as employment opportunities, foreign exchange earning and impact to national income etc limited points are discussed since information provided by the investors provide limited area of information or information requested by investment analysts.  Allowing for foreign investment on the outcome of such a narrow analysis could not be detected hidden aims of money laundering motives and terrorism aspects of the proposed investment.  

Investment analysis in Sri Lanka must be in a broader analytical framework, which includes an intelligence analysis that consider the money laundering, terrorism, domestic and international politics, attitudes toward the investment of surrounding countries and other vital factors.  Some of the factors in an intelligence analysis might not quantitatively evaluate and in such a situation qualitive analysis would be useful for decision making. 

Sri Lanka needs a good investment analysis process with acceptable policies and transparency.  The current investment process seems a quite close process as the government wants to gain political advantages out of the investment.

One Response to “MONEY LAUNDERING, TERRORISM AND DESPERATE FOR INVESTMENT IN SRI LANKA”

  1. Christie Says:

    Our problem is our economy is in the hands of Indian Colonial Parasites.

    They send all profits to India and overseas.

    Unless we Sinhalese understand this simple situation and take necessary action we Sinhalese are doomed.

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