The military defeat of the Tamil Tigers has effectively dried up illegal banking channels like the hawala that were used to fund the rebels and their activities, a top Sri Lankan banker has said.
The chairman of Bank of Ceylon (BoC) Gamini Wickremasinghe said much of the money that was sent earlier through hawala channels were now being legally remitted to Lanka.
Wickremasinghe told the Sunday Times newspaper that since the end of the civil conflict in May, 2009, remittances from the Tamil Diaspora in the UK to Sri Lanka through the BoC was now a monthly average of three million sterling pounds from 50,000 pounds earlier.
“We want to raise it to six million pound per month,” he said.
Wickremasinghe explained how the illegal channels worked.
“There were corner shops in UK which advertised current rates. You could walk into one of these shops and send money home (Sri Lanka) through just an SMS. You are given a code and the recipient in northern Sri Lanka is given the same code. The UK channel will inform a local contact to hand over the money to the recipient in local currency,” he said.
The modus operandi was that no money was actually transferred to Sri Lanka. The money paid in Lanka came from the sums raised by the LTTE through taxes and other dues residents were forced to pay.