The Finance Ministry recently granted permission to release USD 527,000 and 100 Sterling Pounds that Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka had received as campaign donations when he contested for the presidency in 2010.
The money had been held in a private bank account, and the funds were later frozen. Field Marshal Fonseka had noted that the funds had been given to the mother of his daughter’s then-husband to hold onto them temporarily. A case was filed against her later in the high court over the matter, where she admitted to an offence under the Exchange Control Act and informed the Attorney General and the court that the funds belonged to the Field Marshal. The MP had also filed a sworn affidavit in court claiming ownership of the funds.
The high court had ruled that the decision on whether to release the funds or not should be taken by the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry recently gave permission for the Field Marshal to withdraw the funds.
The MP accordingly went to the private bank branch in Thimbirigasyaya. When the safe was opened, though, he found much to his dismay that much of the cash in the safe had been devoured by termites. Many of the foreign currency notes that had escaped the termites had become too faded or discoloured. He also found that some of the notes were no longer in circulation.
Foreign currency amounting to about Rs. 50 million was salvageable. The Field Marshal has now written to the Finance Ministry over the matter and has requested that it take action to ensure that the funds that were lost to him are restored.
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