TRO funds have not reached N-E
COLOMBO: Investigators probing the finances of the Tamil
Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) yesterday said millions of dollars
raised by the organisation annually has not reached the North and East
of Sri Lanka. Millions of dollars raised by its 17 international
branches annually, have vanished and there were no bank records to show
that 'all or most' of the funds had been used for humanitarian
activities in the North and East, a senior investigator said.
The TRO is reported to be raising over US $ 20 million a year by its
very active global network. The documentary proof and audited reports
provided by the Organisation to the investigators have failed to prove
that these funds have been remitted to their Sri Lankan accounts.
The freezing order by the High Court at the outset of the
investigation on August 29 is to expire in February and a senior
official said they were certain that a breakthrough was imminent with
regard to the case.
The funds of the organisation in five private banks were frozen by
the court order for six months. A team comprising the CID, Attorney
General's office and the Central Bank's Financial Investigation Unit
officials are working round the clock on the case.
"They are meeting on a weekly basis to discuss strategies and review
progress," he added. "At the moment we are pursuing several leads,"
another official said declining further information saying it was still
premature to divulge details.
He said they were sharing intelligence with foreign law enforcement
authorities and Anti-Money Laundering Units, particularly in Canada,
Australia, US, France and the UK. This has led to significant
breakthroughs in the investigation.
The Central Bank's Financial Investigation Unit officially began a
probe on financial transactions of this internationally listed charity
organisation last August after raids carried out in their offices in
Canada, US and UK exposed possible links with the LTTE and funding
terrorist causes. Following its investigations the UK de-listed the TRO
as a charity in 2005. In many other countries its offices have been
raided and shut down.
However, the TRO as with many other LTTE front organisations are said
to be operating their business as usual under different names.
The investigations revealed that TRO has 'bagged' over one tenth,
nearly Rs.4 billion of the total funds received for tsunami activities
in Sri Lanka through the banking system. This is according to the
official records of the organisation.
A sizable amount of these funds was depleted by the time the Central
Bank issued the directive to freeze the accounts. From the TRO's main
commitment of 639 houses only 100 had been completed for tsunami