On a request made by Iran, Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had given clearance for an Iranian involved in the Uma Oya project to take USD 53,455 out of the country, on humanitarian grounds.
The Finance Ministry rejected reports that the Customs Department was pressurised to release the money.
The Finance Ministry said that the Iranian had been detained at the Bandaranaike International Airport with the money recently.
According to the Finance Ministry, the money was part of the salary given to the Iranian employees involved in the Uma Oya project.
Since there is no agreement between Sri Lanka and Iran to transfer funds between both countries, the Iranian was to take the money to Iran to transfer it to the bank accounts of the Iranian employees of the project.
However he was arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport and the money was also seized by the Customs Department.
The Finance Ministry said that following a request made by Iran, Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, as the Minister in charge of customs, had issued an order to release the money on humanitarian grounds. (Colombo Gazette)