Government rejects concerns over Mirijjawila oil refinery

The Government today rejected concerns raised over the proposed Mirijjawila oil refinery project.

Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrema told Parliament that the Oman company is going ahead with the project.

The Minister also said that the lease agreement for the land will be signed on Thursday.

He urged the opposition to be patient without making misleading comments.

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) had recently said that it believes the controversy surrounding the proposed USD 3.85 billion oil refinery in Mirijjawila, Hambantota, could have a negative impact on Sri Lanka’s efforts to remove itself from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) ‘Grey List’ of countries vulnerable to money laundering and terrorism financing.

The main investor in the project, the Singapore based ‘investment vehicle’ Silver Park International PTE Ltd, is a company controlled by the family of Tamil Nadu politician and former Indian Union Minister Dr. S. Jagathrakshakan, whose business interests have previously been implicated by Indian authorities and the media in several alleged corruption scandals.

Of the 40 FATF recommendations which set the international standards on combating money laundering, recommendation 12 requires that reasonable measures are taken to ascertain the source of wealth and source of funds in transactions involving politically exposed persons.

TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere said that in light of the efforts being made by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to get off the FATF Grey List, it is essential that the Board of Investment conducts enhanced due diligence on the Silver Park International investment, given that its directors fall squarely within the FATF definition of politically exposed persons.

Given the confusion relating to the parties engaged in the project, TISL also called on all state agencies to ensure adherence to proactive disclosure provisions outlined in the Right to Information Act.

Section 9 of the RTI Act requires the line Minister of a given project to publicly communicate all available information relating to the project, three months prior to commencement. (Colombo Gazette)

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