The Bank of Ceylon has cracked a lucrative racket in providing false financial statements to embassies to facilitate foreign travel.
An executive officer attached to the bank`s Supra Grade branch in Kandy has been interdicted pending further investigations.
This was in the backdrop of IDP Education Sri Lanka which represents the interests of the Australian High Commission wanting the Kandy branch to verify a financial statement submitted by a person planning to send her daughter to Australia for higher studies.
`We swiftly established the identity of the culprit. Following an inquiry, the internal audit recommended punitive action against him,` an official said.
The fictitious documents had been submitted to the Second Secretary of the Australian High Commission in Colombo. The transaction is reported to have taken place in early May this year.
Initially, the management had shifted the suspect to Kantale branch but interdicted him after the All Ceylon Bank Employees` Union (ACBEU) demanded tougher action. The ACBEU has also called for President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s immediate intervention. In an open letter to the President, the ACBEU emphasized the need for an investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department.
Employees of both private and state sector banks are believed to have profited from the racket. Some embassies want visa applicants to reveal their finances to facilitate the issue of visa. Those who are unable to meet the requirement are believed to have obtained bogus financial statements through corrupt bank officials. The recent detection made at Kandy was a case in point where the chief suspect had issued relevant bank documents to the effect that the visa applicant had deposited Rs 8 million as savings and in two separate deposits. The Internal Audit had revealed that two blank fixed deposit receipts had been fraudulently removed from the fixed deposit Receipt book and issued for Rs 2 million each.
Well informed sources alleged the employees had accepted money to issue the bogus financial documents. The sources asserted that this particular case could be referred to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption. The Island learns that the revelation of the racket in Kandy has triggered a simmering dispute between the JVP-led ACBEU and the Ceylon Bank Employees Union (CBEU). The sources identified the officer interdicted over the alleged Kandy racket as a key member of the CBEU. According to the internal investigation, three workers-two executive officers and a junior executive officer had been found guilty of preparing fictious fixed deposit receipts.