US Senator's office exposes Lanka customs clearance fraud

[TamilNet, Saturday, 12 March 2005, 13:10 GMT]
An over-charge of nearly US$4000 on an NGO during clearance of relief supplies was discovered due to the intervention of Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes office, sources said. The fraud was discovered when officials of a Baltimore Church and Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), approached the Congressman for help to pressure Sri Lanka Government to waive the nearly $7000 US taxes it imposed on five water purifiers sent by the Baltimore church to NorthEast victims of recent tsunami.

Paul Sarbanes
Paul S. Sarbanes (Democrat) Senator from Maryland, USA
A customs Registered Agent, Mr Fayaz, who was helping the TRO to clear five water purifiers has given forged documents to TRO officials in Colombo indicating the taxes on the supplies to be Rs 620,219, according to sources.

When the Senator's office contacted the Sri Lanka embassy in Washington for details, the embassy forwarded tax documents which showed the actual tax as Rs 227,694, sources said.

Subsequent internal investigations by the Sri Lanka customs have revealed the forgery and the said Agent is to be produced in Court, sources in Colombo said.

Meanwhile, Colombo TRO officials have given statements to Sri Lanka Police who have indicated that the defrauded money will be returned to the TRO, Mr Chandru Pararajasingham, director of Colombo branch of TRO told TamilNet.

He further told TamilNet that he has requested TRO offices in US to ask for further assistance from Senator Sarbanes to help clear more than 30 containers addressed to TRO still uncleared and lying in Sri Lanka Customs premises at Colombo airport.


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