Treasury loses USD 18 mn as minister blocks CCD probe into generator fraud
Posted on November 21st, 2021

by Ifham Nizam and Prabhath Withana Courtesy The Island

An investigation by the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) into a complaint of fraud, which caused a loss of over USD 18 million to the government coffers, has been stalled by a minister, according to police sources.

The CCD commenced the investigation, several weeks ago, following a complaint against a Singaporean, of Sri Lankan origin, and a Sri Lankan, for using forged documents to cheat a Sri Lankan company out of Rs 35 million.

Investigators uncovered a customs fraud, amounting to USD 18 million using a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) between the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and a Hongkong-based company. The Customs Department’s Compliance and Facilitation Division commenced a separate investigation.

The Customs investigation found that the suspects had deprived Sri Lanka of USD 18 million by using the PPA, which had been cancelled by the CEB. As per the PPA, the V Power Holdings could import to Sri Lanka power generators, duty free, to supply 34 MW to the national gri, for a six-month period. As per the PPA, after six months the company is required to re-ship those generators and is also requested pay a 10 percent tax on revenue from the generators. That tax could have been around one million USD. They brought down 350 generators. The duty for the generators would have been around 14 million USD. The company obtained a duty waiver to the tune of around three million USD. However, the PPA had been cancelled by that time by the CEB because V Power Holdings failed to deliver 34 MW, within the stipulated one-month period,” a senior CCD officer said.

The company has to pay over 18 million USD to Sri Lanka. It did not re-export the generators. In addition, the suspects have also been charged with defrauding Rs 35 million from the Green Win Holdings Lanka Ltd., the local agent company of the Hong Kong-based Listed Company, V Power Holdings.

The CCD investigation has been halted due to political interference, sources said, adding that the suspects had approached a Cabinet minister.

Asked for comment, senior CEB officials said that there had been a PPA with V Power Holdings but it had been cancelled by the CEB. With the cancellation of the agreement, the company loses their rights for duty concessions, a top management level officer of the CEB told The Island.

Customs Media Spokesman and Deputy Director (Legal) Sudattha Silva said that the Compliance and Facilitation Division of the Department was conducting an investigation. He said he was not in a position to comment more as the investigation was in progress.

The V Power Holdings was accused of violating the Section 50 (A) (1) (a) (b) of the Customs Ordinance.

When contacted for comment, Chairman of Green Win Holdings Lanka Ltd, Vajira Wickramasinghe said. That there were two investigations into the aforementioned incidents.

We signed the PPA with CEB as the Sri Lankan representative of the V Power Holdings of Hong Kong. The V Power Holdings’ Chief Commercial Officer sent a Singaporean of Lankan origin to work with us. Later, it was found that Singaporean with the help of a former director of our company, carried out the fraud. They have misused the canceled PPA to clear the consignment from the harbour. Now, the CCD says that they cannot find the Singaporean and the Lankan who have gone into hiding. I hope that the investigations will resume and the culprits will be caught so that justice will be done.”

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