Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament yesterday that despite reports to the contrary, the Attorney General was not obstructing investigations into the Avant Garde case.
The Premier said; on the AG’s advise a current probe by the CID was focusing on whether the Avant Garde Company had committed any offence under the Money Laundering Act.
Wickremesinghe in response to a question raised by the Chief whip cum JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake on the controversial Avant Garde case, said that the government was not trying to sweep it under the carpet.
Instead, the Premier promised that the government will do its utmost to bring perpetrators to book, if any offence has been committed.
Explaining matters further, the Premier noted that the Defence Ministry has documents to prove that in September 2012 the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had given approval to maintain a floating armoury in international waters, but not a floating armoury at the Galle Port. The Premier admitted that most of the firearms found inside the floating armoury in Galle Port did not have local licenses issued by the Defence Ministry and instead they had foreign serial numbers.
He went on to say that firearms found within the country’s territory should contain a valid license issued by the Defence Secretary under the Firearms Ordinance.
However, the Premier failed to explain why the AG had instructed the CID to probe the Avant Garde case under the money laundering act while discarding possible violations of the firearms ordinance, if the weapons found at the floating armoury at Galle port did not have valid local licenses.
Despite this fact the Premier went on to say that the government would not hesitate to punish anyone including the former Defence Secretary if found guilty to any wrongdoing.
The Premier also noted that there was no documentary evidence to suggest that the former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Nigeria ASP Liyanage had facilitated the signing of an agreement between the Avant Garde Company and a Nigerian weapons Company. As the Avant Garde was a private company, the government had no reports of its financial activities. According to an agreement reached between Rakna Arakshaka Lanka and Avant Garde Company, 50 percent of the profits have to go to Rakna Arakshaka Lanka. According to this agreement there is a pending payment of Rs. 470 million to Rakna lanka from Avant Garde, the Premier revealed.