Details of a massive human smuggling racket carried out in connivance with the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourist Board during the previous regime had been revealed in recent court case proceedings, court reports disclosed.
A racket of illegal immigration has been revealed in information now in public domain on sending four persons to Canada after obtaining Rs.2 million from each person.
Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake ordered the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to remove the current investigation officers and appoint a new team as the current investigators failed to arrest a former Minister’s Private Secretary Lal Ratnayake and Raheem Bhai, who are suspected of being directly involved in the racket.
Two of former Minister's Secretaries Dhananjani Jayashanti and Sujeewa Nandani had been remanded over the alleged crime.
Our inquiries in this regard revealed that human trafficking had been carried out by some corrupt officials of the Tourist Board for some time.
Informed sources said that a Board Member appointed by the previous Yahapalana Government to the Tourist Board was behind this racket.
This Director, who has high-level diplomatic relations with several European countries, was prompting the Board to organise travel shows in those countries with the money of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board.
Sources of the board said that even though there are not even two or three thousand tourists arriving from those countries annually, the Good Governance regime has been investing millions of dollars in foreign exchange, helping to create an environment conducive to human trafficking.
“These exhibitions are unique. Although it is financially profitable to hold exhibitions in several cities in one country, the officials of the Tourist Board continue to hold exhibitions with the government money in many countries, informed sources said.
“Then they sent some outsiders after obtaining a huge sum of money, pretending that those outsiders would travel for Tourist Board organized exhibitions and shows in those European countries’.
It was also revealed that the visas and tickets had been obtained through travel agencies registered in the name of their parents and siblings.
In one occasion these fake exhibitions had been held in four countries at once, and four visas were issued to each country and each visa holder had to pay Rs. 2 million and those money had been shared among the racketeers, including the said director.
The Tourist Board should conduct an investigation into these racketeers and inform the Embassies of the respective countries.