Sri Lanka FIU left out of National Security Council before terror attack

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which investigates terrorism funding and money laundering, was left out of National Security Council meetings in the lead up to the Easter Sunday bombings, which killed over 250 people, officials have revealed.

"The FIU was in the National Security Council meetings in the past, but prior to the attack it was not," Central Bank Deputy Governor H. A. Karunaratne told reporters.

"After the attack, the FIU is in the meetings again".

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he had also been left out of the National Security Meetings in the months leading up to the attack.

President Maithripala Sirisena has the power to allow or deny access of intelligence unit heads to the National Security Council meetings.

Police had been tracking many of the suicide bombers before the attacks. Some had been taken in by police for infighting but not prosecuted.

Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said that after the attacks, co-operation between the FIU, the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and the Attorney General’s Department have been strengthened.

He was questioned whether the CID had provided FIU with the names of the suspected bombers before the attacks.

"I do not know, because the FIU is an independent unit falling under the administration of the Central Bank," he said.

Coomaraswamy declined to comment on any failure of inter agency co-operation prior to the attacks.





Sri Lankan officials and also the public had been focusing on Tamil Tiger terrorism for years and Islamist bombers with foreign links is a new phenomenon.

Karunaratne defended the FIU, saying that it has always been proactively seeking terrorism financing.

Following the Easter bombings, the FIU has sent reports on the financial activities of the bombers and suspected affiliates to the CID, Coomaraswamy said.

Responding questions from reporters, Coomaraswamy said that it is unusual for the FIU to be attached to the Central Bank, when in other countries, it falls under the Finance Ministry or the police. (Colombo/May31/2019)

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