Sri Lanka ar­rests for­mer US am­bas­sador for graft

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s for­mer am­bas­sador to Wash­ing­ton was ar­rested yes­ter­day ac­cused of mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing more than $350,000, the lat­est mem­ber of strong­man ex-pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japakse’s fam­ily to be in­ves­ti­gated for cor­rup­tion in of­fice. Jaliya Wick­ra­ma­suriya, a cousin of for­mer pres­i­dent, was de­tained at Sri Lanka’s main in­ter­na­tional air­port as he tried to leave the is­land, an air­port of­fi­cial said.

The po­lice had ob­tained a court or­der pre­vent­ing Wick­ra­ma­suriya from leav­ing the coun­try as the au­thor­i­ties probe fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions at the Sri Lankan em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton dur­ing his ten­ure as am­bas­sador from 2008 and 2014. “He is ac­cused of pock­et­ing $345,000 from the pur­chase of a build­ing for the em­bassy,” a po­lice of­fi­cer in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said. He said two other in­stances of mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion were also un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, in­volv­ing undis­closed sums.

The cur­rent gov­ern­ment has ac­cused Ra­japakse and his fam­ily of sy­phon­ing off bil­lions of dol­lars when they were in power and many of the close rel­a­tives are cur­rently on bail pend­ing court ac­tion. Ra­japakse lost power in a snap elec­tion in Jan­uary 2015 to his for­mer ally Maithri­pala Sirisena who has since or­dered in­ves­ti­ga­tions into al­leged wide­spread graft un­der the for­mer regime.

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