Areca nut (karunka puvak) re-exporting racket is still continuing in violation of the free trade agreement between India and Sri Lanka,
A special investigation has also being carried out by Sri Lanka Customs and investigations are underway into the customs officials who assisted in the deportation of the areca nut containers.
A customes officer has been taken into custody in connection with his involvement in the racket recently.
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 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.
An Assistant Superintendent of Sri Lanka Customs has been arrested over his alleged involvement in the falsification of documents to re-export 23 containers of dried Indonesian areca nuts to India as Sri Lankan areca nuts.
The arrest has been made by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), according to the Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana. The arrestee was identified as a 29-year-old from Wadduwa area.
DIG Rohana said the financial crimes investigation unit of the CID had launched a probe into the incident several months ago.
During the probes carried out from August to October in 2020, three suspects were taken into custody over 23 containers of areca nuts imported from Indonesia. The consignment was valued at Rs. 300 million.
Investigators have uncovered that documents pertaining to the seizure of 23 containers in question had been forged with the intention of re-exporting them as locally-grown areca nuts.
Accordingly, the said Customs officer was placed under arrest on Monday (April 12) in connection with the incident.
As per reports, the officer in question has been suspended and probes against him are to be carried out under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act.