‘Rs. 4 bn worth transactions made through two bank accounts belonging to former EP Governor’

Monetary transactions amounting to four billion rupees had allegedly taken place through two bank current accounts belonging to former Eastern Province (EP) Governor M.L.A.M. Hizbullah between 2016 - 2019.

This was revealed during the testimony of the former Manager of the Bank of Ceylon’s Kollupitiya branch before the Presidential Commission of Investigation (PCoI) probing the Easter Sunday terror attacks yesterday.

She said these bank accounts by the name of Sri Lanka Hira Foundation (SLHF) and Batticaloa Campus Private Limited which were founded by Hizbullah had been allegedly opened in the Kollupitiya branch and Hizbullah himself and two other individuals namely Abdul Cadre Mohamed Samsudeen and Ahmed Faleel Mohamed had been named as authorized persons to handle the transactions of these accounts.

However, the Bank of Ceylon (BoC) had not taken steps to inform the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) about these transactions, where it is a must for the commercial banks to inform the CBSL about the transactions above one million rupees.

The witness said steps were taken to inform the CBSL about the transactions that have taken place through these accounts only after the Easter Sunday attack of April 21.

It was also revealed that the SLHF had not submitted the documents pertaining to its registration as a social service organization prior to the opening of its bank accounts in 1993.

The bank account of the Hira Foundation had received Rs. 313 million on 15 occasions between 2016 and 2019 from Inheritance Ali Abdullah Al Juffali in Saudi Arabia, Siddique and Diana Osmond from the UK and Credential Limited Company of the UK.

Money received from Saudi Arabia was credited to the account through a bank in the United States, the money received from Siddique and Diana Osmond through an international bank operating in Sri Lanka and the money received from Credential Limited through a bank in the UK.

The account belonging to the Batticaloa Campus had been opened on January 14, 2016 by the name of Batticaloa Campus College Pvt. Ltd. where Hizbullah and Ahmed Shiraz Hizbullah were named as authorized persons to handle the transactions of it. However, the account’s name had been changed as Batticaloa Campus Pvt. Ltd one month later.

Inheritance Al Abdullah Ali Juffali of Saudi Arabia has credited around Rs. 3,640 million to that account on six occasions between 2016 and 2017.

She said the branch officers had informed her as these transactions are suspicious and then she discussed the matter with the Compliance Division.

Accordingly, all the files pertaining to those bank accounts were forwarded to the Compliance Division of the Head Office and it was decided during a discussion that the transactions made through that bank account were not suspicious, the witness added.

This witness’ testimony was followed by Former Governor Hizbullah’s testimony.

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