ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 42
Financial Times  

Massive fraud by former BOI official

A former Board of Investment (BOI) employee in the Department of Promotions is alleged to have defrauded an investor and BOI client by stealing a cheque and forging the client's signature to withdraw a staggering Rs.9.8 million. The BOI worker was assigned to fully assist and liaise with the American investor for one month, who was embarking on a BOI approved project in Nuwara Eliya.

In June 2005, he is alleged to have stolen a page from the BOI project cheque book and drawn a cash cheque in the amount of Rs.9.8 million. The cheque was subsequently deposited in a Seylan Bank account in Raddoluwa in the name of his father-in-law who is the owner of a private company of contractors. Seylan Bank had collected the proceeds of the cheque from the Bank of Ceylon (BOC), the paying bank and credited the accounts of the contractor. The money and the two men have since disappeared, despite the fact that the father-in-law has said in writing that this fraud was committed by his son-in-law.

Sources close to the case told The Sunday Times FT that the Promotions Director at the BOI had recommended that the suspect worker liaise with the investor. However when contacted, the director told the paper that he has 'not recommended him at all.' He further stated that this is now a judicial matter and that the worker is no longer with the BOI.

The investor became aware that a fraud has been committed in October 2006 after one of the authorized signatories to the company, a Sri Lankan, was selling his lease rights to the land in Nuwara Eliya. Until completion of the sale, this man remained as a Director of the company and had requested all the bank statements relating to the account to be sent to him, before dying in early August 2006.

The debit of Rs.9.8 million was only discovered in mid October 2006 during the tax preparation for the company. The investor alerted the BOC on November 2 and the BOC was able to trace the cheque back to the contractor. Subsequently the investor made statement to the CID.

A senior banking attorney, handling the matter, has brought it to the attention of BOI Chairman and Director General, Lakshman Watawala and Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, Sarath Amunugama but says the BOI is keeping silent on the matter.


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