ATMs siphoned to finance Tigers
Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) officers who arrested five suspects involved in an ATM card racket last Wednesday are hunting for more suspects who are believed to have pilfered nearly Rs.1.5 million on three consecutive days from an ATM machine in Wellawatte to finance LTTE operations.
The five suspects who are now held in custody had confessed upon interrogation by detectives of their involvement in using foreign credit cards and ATM cards to steal money from overseas bank accounts to provide money to LTTE operatives who had met them regularly.
Investigations had revealed that the five suspects had been involved in similar operations in France and Britain. The suspects are also reported to have laundered millions of rupees worth of foreign currency into the country.
Investigations have revealed that they had used the People’s Bank branches at Kegalle and Wellawatte to commit the crimes.
CCD acting director Police Superintendent Palitha Fernando told The Sunday Times vital information regarding others involved in the racket have been obtained.“We have gathered vital clues of many others who are involved in stealing money from ATM machines in and around banks in Colombo. Some of the suspects are believed to be operating from abroad. However we have found that the money is going straight to the LTTE,” he said.
The five suspects were arrested at around 4.30 a.m. on Wednesday trying to withdraw money from the Wellawatte branch People’s Bank ATM machine.
Police sources told The Sunday Times the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank had been assisting in the investigation as the places the cards had been used were being monitored by it. Acting on this intelligence the CCD detectives had made the arrest.
The five suspects had been regularly coming to the ATM machine of the People’s Bank Wellawatte branch between 4.30 and 5.30 in the mornings to withdraw money.
The suspects were reported to have been having 21 credit cards in their possession at the time of their arrest which they used to steal money from many foreign bank accounts.
The suspects were identified as Jeganathan Prabunath, Kandasamy Sekar, Nataraja, Theep Suraj and Kulasingham Ramesh.
Ramesh is reported to have been wanted by the Malaysian authorities for credit card fraud and several other financial crimes. Ramesh was later reported to have left the country on a fake Malaysian passport along with US $ 200,000 which he had illegally repatriated.
Investigations have revealed that a credit card used by one the five suspects was said to have been stolen from a multi-millionaire businessman in London.
The suspects had been stealing money regularly from a Lloyds of London Bank account using one of the credit cards which the businessman had reported to his bank as missing. Upon this complaint an investigation had been launched by the bank which eventually traced the money being withdrawn in Colombo.