28 September, 2023


Follow The Money & The Truth Will Out!

By Niresh Eliatamby

Niresh Eliatamby

Nearly two weeks ago, the Police Spokesman announced that CID sleuths had uncovered a staggering LKR 7 billion in assets belonging to the National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ), the group responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks. It included LKR 140 million in cash. Since then, more and more assets and cash have been discovered.

Therein lies the real story of the rise of the NTJ, its links to ISIL and other groups, the manner in which these dastardly attacks were planned, and the entire timeline of the NTJ’s history.

Therein may also lie the story of the possible cover up that many perceive, rightly or wrongly, is being carried out to whitewash various politicians and businessmen who may have had links to the bombers, and to protect the vast interests of the corrupt political class of Sri Lanka.

For a terrorist movement to operate as brazenly as the NTJ did for so many years, without interference from the authorities, would not be possible without it being protected by powerful politicians, and perhaps law enforcement and military officials.

Terrorism is an expensive venture

Terrorist movements do not run on religious fanaticism. They require vast amounts of money and other assets such as vehicles and properties. They need money for international travel, computer hardware, recruitment, training, and much more. The purchasing of weapons and explosives is child’s play in many countries today, but merchants in the black market weapons industry who are willing to sell to terrorists don’t take credit cards, cheques or even bitcoins. They require cold hard cash and a lot of it.

There is an assumption that NTJ received funding from the so-called Islamic State, which would explain the origin of these vast funds. It is highly unlikely that such assets were paid for through any type of domestic funding.

Let’s hope there won’t be a cover up

Since the announcement of the LKR 7 billion on 6th May, we have heard little about how a small group such as the NTJ managed to amass such wealth, and it is of vital importance that a full investigation be carried out in this regard. Perhaps the silence on this issue is because detective and intelligence sleuths are working hard behind the scenes to uncover the full story. We hope that is what is going on.

It is imperative that Sri Lanka’s media keep close watch on the progress of investigations into the NTJ’s assets – LKR 7 billion or more. If the NTJ had been given political patronage – by politicians of any party – there may very well be a paper trail of fund transfers between such politicians and NTJ or its members. Such revelations might very well be swept under the carpet. Sri Lanka is indeed famous for doing so. Remember the Central Bank Bond Scam?

Such a money trail would provide conclusive proof of collusion between politicians and terrorists. We will trust that the CID is hot on the money trail.

Black Money rules the world

A veteran Marxist I once interviewed explained why he and his comrades detested both religion and capitalism. Most contemporary religious leaders, he said, pretend to guide the world, unlike the founders of their religions who sacrificed much to show humanity the correct path. In reality, it is black money and crony capitalism that rule the world and allow a small group of unscrupulous villains to control the rest of humanity. These villains include some royal houses, dictators, military governments, some politicians, drug barons, weapons manufacturers, shady billionaire businessmen and the current leaders of many radical religious sects. For example, if you follow the money trail of a cult such as ISIL or a Colombian cocaine cartel or an African despot, you will find that it leads to many influential people, governments and organisations around the world.

The truth is in the money trail

Following the money is the method that the best taxmen use in order to trap tax dodging individuals and institutions. If you purchase a property or vehicle worth tens of millions of rupees, then you need to be able to answer the question of how, where and when you acquired that amount of money. You may be a politician who obtained the money in cash from a bribe. But making a large purchase always leaves a distinct paper trail. Cheques, bank statements, credit card payments, wire transfers, property deeds, vehicle registration papers, identity cards… all these are a goldmine of information for forensic sleuths.

The world is awash in black money, of course. But black money almost always surfaces at some point when it needs to be converted into white money in order to purchase something substantial. A drug lord from Colombia who desires to buy a private jet for himself cannot simply walk into the offices of Boeing with a lorry-load of cash. Payments for property and vehicles usually come through banks, and banks are supposed to ask questions about where the money came from.

In many cases of money laundering by drug barons, computer hackers and terrorists, banks themselves are complicit. Many global banks have been found guilty of looking the other way while enormous funds pass through their accounts; and many bankers have ended up in jail. If indeed NTJ received funds from Islamic State or other foreign funders, it is highly likely that the funds were transferred through the banking system itself. It is simply not possible to smuggle in billions in the pockets of travellers, risking detection by Customs at several airports. Much simpler and safer to transfer such funds, giving bogus reasons for the money, through a bank that is known to turn a blind eye to money laundering. If the money came through a bank to NTJ, then we can expect some bankers to be arrested soon.

Sri Lanka is a global hub for money laundering

Quite alarmingly, Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world that has a solid reputation as a centre for global money laundering, which means that it is very easy for international drug money and terrorism funding to be turned into white money here. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) the global body that combats money laundering, has just two countries on its ‘Black List’ – North Korea and Iran. But Sri Lanka is one of just twelve nations on the ‘Grey List’, which includes countries such as Syria and Yemen! However, the IMF recently stated that it is hopeful that Sri Lanka would soon be removed from the Grey List, once certain reforms are completed in the financial services sector.

Remember the Panama Papers?

You don’t need an enormous amount of knowledge in order to follow the money. An accountant or a banker could do it. So could trained detectives and forensic journalists. Remember the Panama Papers – 11.5 million documents of financial information of more than 200 wealthy persons around the world (including 12 national leaders), which ended up in the hands of a German journalist and were examined by a team of 107 journalists from 80 media organisations over an entire year? Its revelations led to the resignation of the Prime Minister of Iceland; the resignation of the Justice Minister of Armenia; the former French Budget Minister being expelled from his party; the resignation of the Spanish Minister of Industries; and many others being publicly humiliated by the exposes. A number of banks also faced heavy criticism and official investigations for their role in the money laundering. Most famously, evidence in the Panama Papers resulted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan declaring Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ineligible to hold a public post due to his extraordinarily high level of corruption.

Follow the money

Follow the money, as the old Marxist said, and we shall learn the real story about NTJ and the Easter Sunday disaster.

*Niresh Eliatamby was for many years an investigative journalist, who also spent nearly two decades covering Sri Lanka’s civil war

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Latest comments

  • 11

    “Follow the money, as the old Marxist said, and we shall learn the real story about NTJ and the Easter Sunday disaster.”

    This is Sri Lanka old Marxist, they have still not being able to follow billions that have been looted by the previous regime and perhaps larger amounts by the present regime.

    • 15

      Yes, follow the money trail of National Jamat and the various Muslims groups,
      Also, very important to follow the money trails the BBS Bodu Bala Sena, Ravaya Balaya, Mahasohon Balakaya, Ravana Senai, and the various new Churches being set up in Sri Lanka.
      All religions are being weaponized by external parties and some diaspora networks who are pushing their “soft power” and inflence and promoting division.

  • 10

    7 Billion LKR is good enough to buy all members in parliament.

  • 9

    SF said it will take 7 to 8 years to plan and execute such attack. My question to our finance experts how much time will it take to acquire 7 Billions LKR, with out any trail.

  • 2

    “Follow the Money Trail”. I said this many times. As the writer says, no “Terrorist” outfit could survive and spread its net work without a steady supply of money. In recent times, all these unholy alliances and organizations came into being with the most lucrative business of “DRUGS”. “MONEY” is the “BAIT” and with the present day economic situations, people at all levels have cultured to adopt : “Ballo Marla Hari Salli Hoyapalla” (Kill the dogs even to make money).This ideology had got implanted from the highest level to the lowest levels in the society. A few days ago a suspect was arrested at Mabole, Wattala. He contested in the Local Government elections on the nomination of “POHOTTUWA” – SLPP. He started as a Tri Show man. But now it has been found his connections right to the “Top Levels” in the country. His affiliation with the “Underworld” gangs, including “Makandure Madush”, “Kanjani” and even “Potti Naufur” will come to light. “BUT”, there is always a “BUT” in these investigations. It will end up in “Silence” because the “TOP LEVEL” has to live as in the present day to another future, along with their kith and kin .

  • 5

    Niresh Eliatamby’s {“Follow The Money & The Truth Will Out!”} is easy to say but difficult to do.
    The world economic system has money laundering as part of it. Drug dealers, speculators, casino owners are into it. Did the Panama Papers make any difference at all?
    In Lankan context, if the homes of our leading politicians are raided, finding SLR 100 millions is more than likely.
    There are several nouveau riche Lankans who have assets of SLR 7 billions stashed away.
    By the way Champika Ranawake of the rightwing extreme nationalist JHU is planning a Colombo metropolis via tourism, casino and the damn lot.
    As far as the ‘tragedy’ that was 2019 Lankan Easter Sunday is concerned, the ‘Truth is out’.
    Lankan Muslims have accepted that some Muslim radicals did it.
    There are reasons to believe that actions of rightwing extreme ultra-nationalist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) accelerated the radicalisation of the radical Muslims.
    BBS broke awa from JHU, has political connections and impunity.
    Find out how BBS gets financed Niresh.

  • 1

    Hey….thanks for the interesting write-up. Hope we see results soon.

  • 0

    Elyathambi, where are you mate ??
    This is the best bit of writing I have ever seen in our CT..

    It makes me wonder what happens to all those US Dollars , Kanada Dollars, Euro Dollars , British Dollars , Saudi Dollars, Iraqi Dollars and even Israeli Dollars which pour in to Prasanna and the Royal Exchange next door, 24/7 from our Expat Doctor, Lawyers, Engineers, Restaurant owners , and even House Maids and Bell Boys….

    Does Coomrasamy bank them?..

    So the CID found 7 Billion in JNIT asset register. And 140 Million in petty cash.
    Even in LKR it is heck of a lot.
    Was it Dr Ranil’s F*****CID or the generic brand?..

    What bugs me is how the most vocal Senior UNP Minister who is so close to Dr Ranil , even closer than Sagala and Akila , have seen 18 Billion of stolen money which belongs to Rajpaksa.
    This Minister even sent his even more Vocal Son . all the way to Dubai to check it
    And the Sonna after inspection of course told our Yahapalana Media that the Bundles of Notes were stacked on the floor.
    And they were not in freaking Lankawe Ruppiahs..
    But are all Uncle Sam’s Bullet Proof Green Backs.
    And did nothing to bring it back-

    I can’t believe Dr Rajith and Son didn’t know about this 7 Billion and 140 Million in JNIT accounts-
    May be these Yahapalana Rulers don.t care much about Lankawe Ruppiahs , just like out beggars don’t worry about change now a days..

    BTW, my Elders tell me that Yahapalana Minister Bathudeen has bought a whole Island in the East,
    Wonder whether it is one of those in Kalpitiya Lagoon where the Eastern Naval Base is?..

  • 1

    Am I the only one who thinks that the Easter Sunday attacks would have needed just seven or so willing idiots, basic knowledge in explosives and seven cheapest phones for checking the time, all the ingredients you could buy or find in Pettah for a pittance.

  • 2

    The investigators, similar to what the upstanding army commander replied to a journalist, should not allow anyone to interfere with the investigations.The death penalty has to be implemented, to what is worse than an epidemic. The judiciary I am sure, know the gravity of the issue and should continue to ensure that justice is delivered without delay. Sri Lanka has been made into a junkyard of all kinds of crime and decadent social life styles.

  • 0

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  • 6

    Nothing personal what you wrote Thambi. Do the Sinhala modaya have a brain to follow the money.? Were the majority of these donkeys able to follow the money when millions, if not half a billion was on offer by Basil and the Madamulane gangsters when the bait was meant for government ministers to cross over? If we could not have done anything about this criminals during the constitutional coup in October last year, do you mean to tell us that our retards can follow the money after this most recent Easter Sunday massacre. I hear that foreign intelligence help has been curtailed because the first warnings themselves were mocked. The Sinhala MOADAYA could not act on ‘precise’ intelligence information because they mistrust India and were on Avurudhu holiday mode before the holidays kicked in. The average Sinhalaya is a brainless pimps who will do anything for money, packet of rice and a bottle of Arrakku because they have no human intelligence.

  • 0

    I was just glancing and saw Wanni,s expert analysis. Buddy do we need 7 Billion LKR for your Pettah project. Seven guys everything cheap as you say phones, Pettah explosives (you seems to know where to get????) will cost say max one million. The rest of the money?????? Think about it.

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