Sakvithi scam: CID unveils more secrets

By Damith Wickremesakera and Himal Kotelawala, Pic by Nilan Maligaspe

The alleged billion-rupee fraudster Chandana Weerakumara alias Sakvithi Ranasinghe, who is accused of cheating thousands of people of their life’s savings operated as a tuition master in Chilaw after slipping back into the country apparently some months ago, a detective said yesterday.

CID detectives visited Chilaw yesterday to gather details about what he did and whom he moved with in the area. A senior CID officer told the Sunday Times they had found that Mr. Ranasinghe had conducted group English classes for school children to earn his living on his return before shifting to Wattala.

The arrest of Mr. Ranasinghe and his wife Kumari Anuradhini at Nawagamuwa two years after they fled the country has led to a reopening of the probe on one of Sri Lanka’s biggest scams in which some 2,800 people were defrauded to the tune of more than one billion rupees.

Police guarding the Wattala house where Sakvithi and his family were living in since his return from India.

The couple’s two children were also taken in yesterday and were now in protective custody, the CID officer said.

Mr. Ranasinghe is being questioned by the CID on how he escaped to India after the alleged fraud was exposed, what he did with the huge amount of money, where it is hidden now and how much of it is left with him.

The officer said the detectives were also probing whether others were involved in the huge racket. On Friday, soon after Mr. Ranasinghe and his wife were arrested, detectives found two Sri Lankan passports registered under the names of Ranasinghe and Kumari, a visa card in the name of a Radha Thangawelu, a SIM, five pieces of paper with phone numbers scrawled on them and an Indian train timetable in their possession.

Meanwhile victims who turned up at Police Headquarters yesterday said police officers had asked them to be patient till the investigations were over. They said the officers had told them that at least some of the money could be recovered once other persons connected with the scam were arrested. "These persons may be holding on to some portions of the loot," a senior police officer said.

Hotline for complaints

The CID yesterday opened a hotline for people to lodge fresh complaints against alleged financial fraudster Sakvithi Ranasinghe.

Complaints could be made by dialling 0112422176 or by visiting the CID in Colombo, Police headquarters said.

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