ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 24

Tiger claws exposed in France, funds frozen

By Asif Fuard

LTTE operations in France are being exposed with bank accounts believed to be used to transfer funds for the LTTE from France being frozen following the arrest of 40 Sri Lankans working in the Charles de Gaulle airport, a spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry told The Sunday Times.

Spokesman Nicole de Lacoste said they were probing how these 40 Sri Lankans had come to France as most of them were found to be illegal immigrants.

“Our Ministry will look into how these persons entered France and will deal with them accordingly. At present their passports have been seized and they are detained.

“The French police are probing the possible terrorist link to those working at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris,” Mr. de Lacoste said.

He said Interpol also would be called in as LTTE suspects were known to be laundering money to Switzerland.

He said the arrests came as part of a global effort to crack down on terrorist operations in international airports.

“We got a tip-off on money laundering and other illegal activities in the airport. Previous Investigations identified at least ten Sri Lankan Tamils who were involved with the LTTE,” he said.

Sri Lanka embassy Consular Officer Himali Arunathilake told The Sunday Times the embassy in Paris was not briefed on the detentions – but the French Foreign Ministry spokesman said they would brief the Lankan mission. The French police investigation is focused on the recipients of the money from France. They also want to verify whether the money is being paid to the LTTE on a regular basis through their bank accounts and whether the account holders were involved in money laundering activities for or on behalf of the LTTE.

Based on the information given by the 40 persons arrested, the French police have begun to crack down on several illegitimate businesses the LTTE owns in France.

The French police have ordered them to produce their bank account statements and their passports.

The 40 persons arrested were working as baggage handlers, security guards, drivers, cleaners and clerks in the airport.

Investigations done by the French police have revealed that some of these arrested persons had “millions” of euros in their accounts, prompting the police probe.

The investigation comes amidst reports that the LTTE is making moves to transfer all the monies it has in various bank accounts in Paris by withdrawing them gradually in small amounts without arousing suspicion of the authorities.

Last month Vinayagamoorthy alias “Thongal”, an LTTE activist and trustee of the Paris-based Amman Hindu Temple, was arrested at the French-Swiss border with his vehicle loaded with currency amounting to 20 million euros.

Many Sri Lankan Tamils have complained to the French police regarding LTTE gang members threatening them and extorting money.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.