The Ministry of Defence (MOD) as well as Sri Lanka Navy have commenced investigations into the weapons that have allegedly been sold to foreigners by the Navy as well as gone missing while in Navy custody.
State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene has reportedly said that he had instructed the Navy to carry out an investigation in to the allegations against the Navy that have been publicized by Avant Garde Maritime Services Ltd. Chairman Nissanka Senadhipathi last week.
Senadhipathi charged that he had information that proves several low-ranking Navy officers had sold around 800 weapons to foreign nationals for US$ 5,000 before the floating armoury business was handed over to Avant Garde.
“The weapons-handling business carried out by the Sri Lanka Navy on the ground was handed over to our ‘MV Mahanuwara’ vessel docked at the Galle Port due to the corrupt actions of several low-ranking officers involved in the weapons-handling business of the Navy. Key among the reasons for handing us the weapons-handling business from the Sri Lanka Navy was the sale of over 800 weapons to foreign nationals for US$ 5,000 (this number could be much higher), issuing licenses to these weapons, extorting money from these foreign nationals, and the entrance of foreign nationals to the country carrying these weapons posing a threat to national security. These weapons have fallen into the arms of foreign terrorist organisations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. The future consequences of these actions are unimaginable,” Senadhipathi alleged.
He said that he had withheld this information since he did not want to tarnish the image of the Sri Lanka Navy, but was forced to reveal the alleged corruption due to various allegations being levelled against him.
Senadhipathi also charged, “Before Rakna Lanka handed over the business to us, 172 weapons that were held by 24 foreign companies that were taken overseas had gone missing and we managed to travel around the world and locate 158 of those missing weapons. The balance 14 weapons remain missing to date. These weapons would have fallen into the hands of terrorists like ISIS and Al Qaeda.”
“We are in possession of a letter issued on this matter by the UN Maritime Agency. In the event one of these missing weapons are used in an assassination and is taken into custody, investigations into the weapon number will reveal that it was originally issued by Sri Lanka. Although I had informed the responsible authorities as well as the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) about this issue, action has not yet been initiated on the matter,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minister Wijewardene has noted that he was informed of these allegations and had instructed the Navy Commander to conduct an inquiry into the matter so that they can ascertain the veracity of these allegations. However, he has further noted that it was highly unlikely that such allegations were true.
“I highly doubt that Navy personnel illegally sold weapons. If it were true, then the Navy Commander at the time would have been aware. Investigations will reveal more,” the Minister has added.