The authorities in the United Arab Emirates are reluctant to apprehend the fugitive, former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Ukraine-Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, since it will send the wrong message to thousands of expatriates who have made huge ‘black money’ investments in that desert……kingdom, senior most officials with the Foreign Ministry in Colombo warned yesterday.
They said the former envoy is known to be a proxy for certain Sri Lankan individuals, who have invested billions of US dollars of black money in that country and taking him out at this stage would make other similar investors jittery and they would attempt to move out, the officials explained.
“Unlike other Gulf and Arab states in the region, the UAE has limited oil reserves and the country depends heavily on foreign investors, where no questions are asked on their source of funds and they are allowed a free hand to carry out their operations within a legal framework.
“Weeratunga also belongs to this syndicate and it appears that he has found a safe haven in the UAE,” they further pointed out.
Weeratunga remains at large despite two warrants issued by the Courts for his immediate arrest and a hunt by the International Police (INTERPOL).
They said that a high-level delegation of officials made up of the Foreign Office, Immigration, Justice and Police visited the UAE after the suspect was arrested by INTERPOL on 4 February while attempting to leave an exit port of the UAE but had to return empty handed after the man was subsequently released pending further investigations.
The former envoy is an individual of interest in a Police investigation into an alleged multi-million dollar scam involving public funds in the purchase of military aircraft more than a decade ago. He is also a close relative of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The UAE Embassy did not respond to an email questionnaire sent by Ceylon Today in this regard. (LB)