Customs Rs.125 mn bribery case to be referred to another High Court today

The case filed against four Customs officials for accepting a bribe of Rs.125 million from a businessman who imported motor vehicle spare parts to the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB), was yesterday referred to the Colombo Chief High Court to consider referral to another High Court.

When the case was taken up before Colombo High Court Judge Amal Ranaraja, President’s Counsel Maithri Gunaratne appearing for the fourth accused in the case produced an affidavit made by his client, requesting to refer the case to another High Court stating that he would be prejudiced if the case was heard under this Court further.

Considering the circumstances, Colombo High Court Judge referred the case to the Colombo Chief High Court to consider the matter.

The case will be taken up again today to consider the request made by the accused.

The case was filed against Assistant Customs Superintendent Upali Gunaratne Perera, Superintendent Wasantha Wimalaweera, Superintendent Upali Senarath Wickramasinghe and Superintendent 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 the 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 Court that the plaintiff’s warehouse had been inspected by the accused stating that the 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 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.

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