Tiger claws exposed
in France, funds frozen
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