Probe on areca nut racket

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa 

The investigation launched by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) regarding the alleged areca nut (karunka puvak) re-exporting racket, which has been conducted in violation of the free trade agreement between India and Sri Lanka, is still ongoing, The Sunday Morning learnt. 

The investigation has been ordered by Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana Wickramaratne last week, following the revelations made by our sister paper Aruna

In addition, a special investigation has also been launched by Sri Lanka Customs and investigations are underway into the customs officials who assisted in the deportation of the areca nut containers. 

According to sources attached to the Department of Police, an investigation into a tip-off received by a senior customs official has revealed that 21 containers of areca nut, imported from Indonesia, were fraudulently re-exported to India.  

While four containers are being shipped from Sri Lanka, it has been revealed that the containers of areca nuts imported from Indonesia were illegally sent by a local exporter to India. 

It has also been revealed that a stock of areca nuts, imported from Indonesia, worth over Rs. 350 million has been fraudulently re-exported to India. The stock of areca nuts was re-exported in 24 containers in August, September, and October, The Sunday Morning learnt. 

It is also said that these areca nuts were imported using the active free trade agreement between Sri Lanka and India. 

According to Customs, only three containers of areca nuts were procured from Sri Lanka and the remaining 21 containers were imported from Indonesia. 

The bulk of the imported areca nuts have been exported to an Indian company, indicating that they are made in Sri Lanka, it is learnt. 

Attempts to contact Sri Lanka Customs Director General Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Vijitha Ravipriya and Sri Lanka Customs Additional Director General Sunil Jayaratne were futile.