The new Sri Lankan government plans to seek assistance from the Reserve Bank of India along with other international institutions to trace billions of dollars plundered by unscrupulous individuals during the regime of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 

Sri Lanka will seek help from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the Reserve Bank of India track down wealth of key persons hidden abroad, cabinet spokesman and Minister of Health, Rajith Senaratne said today.

 

The new government was aware that people who held high positions had hidden "billions of dollars" in foreign accounts, he said.

 

Senaratne said based on a proposal by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the new administration had appointed a high powered ministerial committee to probe alleged financial misdeeds and corruption of the ousted Rajapaksa regime.

 

He said, experts from the financial intelligence unit of the RBI had also helped the new Indian government to track down some of the illegal foreign assets stashed abroad.

 

Sri Lanka lacks the expertise to track down such assets and agencies such as the IMF, World Bank are needed to get expert help.

 

Senaratne said the high powered anti-graft committee will have a rapid response committee to deal with complaints of corruption.

 

The Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption would be provided with muscle to deal effectively.

 

Senaratne said there have been large scale scams in the island’s tiny stock market and many irregularities in property transactions during the previous regime. All these will be investigated.

 

The state media reported that at least two top individuals in the Rajapaksa administration had been served with a foreign travel suspensions following the Bribery Commission’s action to prevent them from leaving the country in view of the ongoing investigations.

Since Rajapaksa lost the January 8 presidential election to his successor Maithripala Sirisena, the former administration has faced a string of graft accusations.