‘Smuggling only one aspect of so-called VIPs’ corrupt practices’

- island.lk

Probe MP involved in gold racket for exchange control violations – KJ

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday (25) urged the government to conduct a thorough investigation into Muslim National Alliance (MNA) MP Ali Sabri Raheem’s abortive attempt to smuggle in gold at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) as it couldn’t be considered just a mere violation of the Customs law.

Jayasuriya said so in a statement issued in his capacity as the Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ). The former UNP Deputy Leader issued the statement close on the heels of the Customs concluding the investigation into the MP’s gold smuggling bid.

Customs released the lawmaker, after he paid a fine of Rs 7.4 mn, consequent to a brief inquiry. Customs confiscated the undeclared gold and smartphones found in his personal luggage estimated to be worth at Rs 74 mn and Rs 4.2 mn, respectively.

Since the last general election, the MNA has been re-registered as United National Alliance (UNA).

Jayasuriya said that the country should be ashamed of the conduct of and MP who made an abortive bid to smuggle in gold biscuits, gold jewellery and smartphones. Jayasuriya said that the thwarted attempt made by the MP exposed corruption perpetrated by those who were categorized as ‘VIPs.’

The former Minister/Speaker alleged that the MP’s corrupt conduct only exposed a fraction of the illegal activities a section of the so-called VIPs were engaged in.Jayasuriya emphasized the need for a thorough inquiry regardless of the status of the persons involved in this racket. The veteran company Chairman/politician said that such incidents disgraced the entire parliament.

Responding to The Island query, the former Speaker said that he felt ashamed to hear that the Puttalam District MP exercised his rights as a member of parliament soon after the Customs fined and released him.

The first time entrant to the parliament on Wednesday (24) voted with the Opposition against the government motion to sack Chairman of Public Utilities Commission Janaka Ratnayake. In spite of being in the Opposition, Raheem has always voted with the SLPP. The two notable occasions Raheem voted with the SLPP were the enactment of 20th Amendment to the Constitution in Oct, 2020 and election of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the President in July, 2022, to complete the remainder of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term.

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