The Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal has stated that under the Money Laundering Act if a person credits money to another account without any reason, the Central Bank will investigate the transaction.
He also added that the Central Bank will take steps to freeze such suspicious accounts.
“Remittances are one of the top foreign exchange earning sectors in Sri Lanka, which used to be about US$ 7 billion a year,” he said addressing a media briefing held at Central Bank.
However, Cabraal said that during the past month alone, there was a reduction of about US$300 million in remittances as money has been exchanged through various other means.
“We feel that the exchange rate which is around Rs. 200 is paid at around Rs. 240 in some places. Rs. 72 billion is required to distribute US$300 million. That is around Rs. 7200 crores to be distributed in the country. If so, where is all this money coming from? Most can be from drug trafficking,” he added.
Cabraal went on to say that under the Money Laundering Act, investigations will be conducted if any person is sending money to another person without any reason.
He also warned that the Central Bank has the authority to suspend such accounts.
Notice from the CBSL
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBS) has received information that some Sri Lankans residing abroad send remittances to their dependents in Sri Lanka, knowingly or unknowingly, through various racketeers.
CBS is aware that there have been instances where certain brokers collect foreign currency from Sri Lankan employees in other countries and credit the accounts of their dependents in Sri Lankan rupees by way of cash or transfers through the financial system.
The public may not be aware that they are committing offences punishable in terms of law for the violation of the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Further, available information indicate that these transactions could be linked to drug trafficking and other illegal activities.
Hence, the CBSL hereby informs all Sri Lankans residing abroad and their dependents not to be victims of such illegal activities, knowingly or unknowingly.
The CBSL emphasizes the need for all concerned parties not to become victims of illegal operators and to ensure that they remit their foreign remittances to Sri Lanka only through banks and through financial institutions which are supervised by the CBSL or other international banks and financial institutions