Govt. freezes TRO millions

Angry Thilakar questions the decision

By Chris Kamalendran

The government has frozen all funds of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) – a front organization of the LTTE with immediate effect.

The freezing of the funds of the organization was known to the TRO members only when they made an attempt to make a withdrawal from their accounts in Kilinochchi and in Colombo.

The directive has been given by the Central Bank, The Sunday Times learns.

Central Bank Sources said the action was being taken on the Act passed early this year on combating financing of terrorism.

TRO Administration Director Lawrance Thilakar, a former spokesman of the LTTE, confirmed to The Sunday Times that the organisation’s funds had been frozen from Friday and they had been told by banks that no withdrawals would be possible until further notice.

He said that no prior notice had been given to the organization though it was registered with the government and functioning since 1985.

The Sunday Times learns that one of the state bank managers and his assistant in Kilinochchi were questioned by the TRO staff as to why the TRO was not informed about the government decision.

They were reportedly told that if necessary they could have taken away the funds as the bank is located in an uncleared area. However they were released yesterday morning.

The bank had TRO deposits amounting to Rs. 20 million when the order to freeze the accounts was given.

In Colombo, TRO officials who visited a private bank were told about the order and their cheques were not accepted.

Mr. Thilakar said relief work of the TRO would be affected as they are currently looking after persons displaced by the conflict as well as carrying out tsunami relief operations.

The TRO was granted Rs 2,000 million (20 million US dollars) for tsunami relief work from international organizations including UN agencies.

In January this year the Government called on the US government to ban the TRO operations in that country. The matter was raised by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during his visit to the US.

The TRO is registered as a charity organization in the US and functions in 28 other countries. In Britain, the Charity Commission started probing TRO functions and subsequently a new charitable company known as the Tamil Support Foundation (TSF) was set up with TRO funds reportedly being transferred to the new trust.

Yesterday TRO legal advisors were making attempts to contact Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal to seek clarification about the decision to freeze funds.

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