4 December, 2022


Charles’ Removal Linked To Probe On 143 Containers: Mangala’s Coordinating Secretary, Finance Min. Secretary Have Given Unlawful Orders: Sirisena Stirring Up Issues Behind The Scenes

Former Customs Director General P.S.M. Charles has been removed from her position after she ordered probes on 143 suspicious containers, Colombo Telegraph can now reveal.


Some of these containers had direct links to Thusitha Halloluwa, a Coordinating Secretary of Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the subject minister of the Customs Department. Halloluwa had exerted pressure on Charles to appoint his ‘associates’ at the Customs Department to probe the suspicious containers and transfer the officers who are currently handling the issue.

Charles has been removed from office after she flatly turned down their orders. Colombo Telegraph can also reveal that the forthright state official, the first woman to head the Customs Department, has also run into several confrontations with Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga over the same matter.

After Charles’ removal, Samaraweera sought Cabinet approval to appoint retired Navy officer, Rear Admiral Shemal Fernando as the Director General of Customs. The move sparked a fierce trade union action by customs unions who protested the appointment of a retired military officer as the Director General of Customs.

Samaraweera then made another move by appointing Finance Ministry Additional Secretary H.G. Sumanasinghe as the Acting Director General of the Department, in a desperate attempt to end the trade union action.

The Customs unions, however, demanded the reinstatement of Charles, saying she was transferred out due to the influence of smugglers who were at the heart of several controversial deals.

Thusitha Halloluwa

Addressing a press conference in Colombo yesterday, Sudath de Silva, a spokesman of the Customs union said several senior officials including Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratuga and several top-notch political figures of the current government maintained close ties with the smugglers.

The discussions between Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera and the union turned hostile last evening and the union representatives stormed out of the meeting room as the minister remained adamant about the removal of Charles.

The Minister said the new Director General was appointed according to a Cabinet decision and the unions had no say in the matter. The union representatives told the Minister that they would not back down until the reinstatement of Charles.

Sirisena’s observations

As the discussions with the Minister failed, the Customs officers at the Colombo Port continued their work-to-rule campaign. They have not allowed the Acting Director General of the department to assume duties.

Presenting the Finance Minister’s version of the story, a spokesman close to him told Colombo Telegraph, it was Samaraweera who appointed Charles to the Director General’s position initially, along with four other females as heads of institutions under the purview of his Ministry.

“The Minister has a weekly review meeting every Thursday for heads of institutions overlooking sectors that generate revenue for the government. Over the past few months, there was a noticable decrease in the revenue generated by the Cumstoms Department. That was one main reason for the replacement of the former Director General,” the spokesman said.

“The Minister also came to the realization that smuggling was becoming a serious issue for the economy. It has been revealed that Velvetithurai in the Northern province is a major entry point for smuggled goods. Therefore, it was important to have a Customs chief who is conversant with military operations to tackle the issue. This is why a former Navy officer was selected as the Director General of Customs.”

“To this date, the former Director General has not told the minister that she had come under pressure from members of the minister’s staff. Today, there was a meeting between the, minister and the former DG and that the meeting she told Samaraweera that she was under the assumption that the minister was aware of the conduct of his associates. There was a clear communication gap,” the spokesman explained.

He said today’s meeting between the minister and the former DG was positive and Samaraweera offered her a senior position in the Finance Ministry.

Meanwhile, it is also learnt that President Maithripala Sirisena is working behind the scenes to stir up the issue as part of his plans to create problems in the government from within. In his observations to Samaraweera’s Cabinet paper last week, Sirisena said any move to appoint retired persons outside the administrative service to key government positions would set a bad precedence. Sirisena recommended to appoint a person from the same service as the Director General of Customs.

Sirisena’s observation was shot down by Samaraweera who said appointing any suitable person for the position was well within the rights of the minister.

Former President and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa also issued a statement on the current crisis saying over the past four years, the Department of Customs had seen four Director Generals. Rajapaksa whose ten-year administration was marred with allegations of large-scale smuggling said the government should be held responsible for any impact the ongoing trade union action would cause on cost of living.

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  • 0

    Customs Director General P.S.M. Charles’s removal has a direct link to her order to probe on 143 suspicious containers, Colombo Telegraph can now reveal.
    Some of these containers had direct links to Thusitha Halloluwa, a Coordinating Secretary of Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the subject minister of the Customs Department.
    Mangala removed Charles and is complicit.
    It is important to note that Charles resisted pressure from Halloluwa to appoint his ‘associates’ at the Customs Department to probe the suspicious containers and transfer the officers who are currently handling the issue.
    Thank you Charles for your attempt to dent the culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity.
    Use of political connections to wheel out containers is not new.
    Remember someone used connections to the then Prime Minister DM Jayaratne to clear a container from Pakistan with drugs?
    The Customs Officers who intercepted were sacked – not by DM J.
    Reason? They tarnished the reputation of the Service.
    Why is “Sirisena Stirring Up Issues Behind The Scenes”? Watch this space.

    • 0

      Trumpland puppet Bondscam Ranil’s butterfly mafia are sabotaging and undermining all governance institutions and defense and border security institutions in order to push the American agenda of setting up military bases, code named logistics Hubs in Lanka.
      Trumpland first destroys the economy of countries and then intervenes in them, by installing and protecting their puppets as is clear in Latin America and the Sanctions against Venezuvela that has destroyed its economy because Trump wants that country’s OIL flowing to US oil companies.
      Washington’s doing the same in Sri Lanka with the Debt trap and crashing the rupee, while setting up a land bank to destroy food security in Lanka and loot prime lands.
      The South Korean, France, US Swiss Challenge to set up a LNG terminal while SL Central Bank looter Ravi K is Minister of Energy is to loot Lanka’s marine resources and LNG reserved in the Mannar Basin , even before it is tapped for the next 20 years, so Lanka will have to buy its own LNG at exorbitant prices from South Korea, another US proxy with Japan Bondscam Ranil must be impeached for his financial crimes against Sri Lanka and for totally undermining National Security by undermining Customs, immigration and defense proceedure so that his Trumpland friends can dig in in the Cold War with China, loot Lanka which is an extremely wealthy country given its massive marine resources under UNCLOS Fisheries and LNG in addition to its strategic location in the fastest growing region of the world.
      Meanwhile, another Trumpland proxy Norway has done a tiny survey of Lanka’s ocean resources and produced questionable “research” findings to keep Sri Lankan Fishes poor and doing |artisan fisheries rather than sustainable industrialization of fishing given that Lanka has 24 times more ocean area and vast marine and potential aqua culture than land area under UNCLOS article 26.

    • 0

      As is the main stream media in the country. CT too has been caught by it.
      Today just specualations and hearsays seem to be the main source of information for MAIN STREAM media.:
      They dont care anything but get caught by the wave. No matter what is being in air would have any crediblity, you just spread it further… so has CT in this regard today. I have been a diehard supporter to CT sofar, but now i feel, you guys too, are no different from HIGHLY abusive media mudalalis in the country, please watch out before misleading the folks.

      I have medt MANAGALA for several occasions, and I know he is senstive politician.
      He would not react the way Rajaakshes may have done it Former CJ Dr Shirani Bandaranayaka.
      You could well search about the situation of CUSTOM which is the orgin of lanken mafia…. before trying to fall to the level of DERANA and hiru IN THE COUNTRY.

  • 1

    Mangala got $ 1.5 billion loan. That money come to Sri Lanka as lost Sri Lanka money which went to Latin America (Argentina, Mexico ?), Germany, New York, India, Malaysia and other countries
    may come back to Sri Lanka.
    So the meeting that Involves Ms CHARLES, MANGALA and his boy Toy and the govt may be a HAUX.

  • 0

    Why Mangala fired Ms. CHARLES and transferred to the Finance ministry is out. Mangala is supporting a MAssive FRAUD by a MULTI NATIONAL COMPANY. [edited out]

  • 0

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