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High Court rejects preliminary objections raised in bribery case

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Law & Order

The Colombo High Court yesterday rejected the preliminary objections raised over the case filed against four Customs officials accused of accepting a bribe of Rs.125 million from a businessman who imported motor vehicle spare parts to the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB).

Colombo High Court Judge Amal Ranaraja rejected the preliminary objection which rosed that the Attorney General’s Department had no legal authority to pursue a bribery case and ordered to commence the trial.

Deputy Solicitor General Janaka Bandara, appearing for the prosecution said that under the Act, the Attorney General has the power to represent the Bribery Commission and provide legal advice.

He also said that the Government has lost Rs.300 million in taxes due to this fraud.

The case was filed against Assistant Superintendent of Customs Upali Gunaratne Perera, Superintendent of Customs Wasantha Wimalaweera, Superintendent of Customs Upali Senarath Wickramasinghe and Superintendent of Customs Sujeewa Parakrama Jinadasa.

The Bribery Commission has filed indictments under 14 counts alleging that a conspiracy was hatched between June 22, 2015 and October 15, 2015 in Panchikawatte, Colombo with late Deputy Superintendent of Customs Jagath Goonetileke to soliciting and accepting Rs. 150 million.

The case was earlier filed by the Bribery Commission and the Commission withdrew the case due to a technical error in the consent which was signed by the three commissioners’. Then the case was re filed in the High Court in 2021,

According to the conspiracy, the Bribery Commission has been further accused of soliciting bribes from the plaintiff on several occasions on October 15, 2015, accepting a sum of Rs.125 million and aiding and abetting other defendants.

Bandulasena, a businessman who imports motor spare parts, had lodged a complaint with the Bribery Commission regarding a bribe of Rs. 125 million.

The Bribery Commission informed the court that the plaintiff’s warehouse had been inspected by the accused stating that he had paid less tax on the importation of motor spare parts to the government and that if these items were properly calculated, he would have to pay around Rs.300 million in tax to the government and the accused had initially demanded Rs.150 million for the assistance to calculate less and pay less tax.

Following the request for Rs. 150 million, the plaintiff had negotiated with the accused on several occasions and reduced the bribe to Rs. 125 million. The Bribery Commission further informed the court that two suspects were arrested on October 15, 2015 while receiving Rs. 125 million at the plaintiff’s place of business and the other suspects during the ensuing investigations.

The Bribery Commission further informed the court that in addition to documents and evidence to prove the allegations against the accused, it also intends to present audio and video recordings as evidence.

State Counsel Malik Ashish appeared for the prosecution, Attorney-at-Law Sashrika Chandarawansa appeared for the Bribery Commission, and President’s Counsel Maithri Gunaratne, appeared for the defence.



Friday, June 17, 2022 – 01:00

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