Singapore rejected Wednesday Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s allegation it was sheltering a former central bank chief wanted for fraud, saying Colombo failed to provide documents to support its extradition request.
Sirisena on Monday accused Singapore of sheltering Arjuna Mahendran, one of his country’s former central bank chiefs wanted in connection with a high-profile $74 million insider trading scam.
Sirisena said he appealed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in January to return Mahendran, who is believed to be in Singapore, but claimed nothing had been done.
Mahendran, a Singapore national of Sri Lankan origin, was accused in 2015 of passing sensitive information to his bond-dealer son-in-law to make millions.
The pair are accused of manipulating bond auctions in 2015 and 2016, causing losses of over $11 million to the state.
A spokesperson for Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said authorities in the city-state have been cooperating with their Sri Lankan counterparts on the case since January.
However, Sri Lanka’s request to return Mahendran “lacked certain information required under Singapore’s extradition laws” and the city-state has requested Colombo to provide them, the spokesperson told AFP.
“To date, Singapore has not yet received the requested supporting information and documents,” the spokesperson said.
“We look forward to receiving the requested information from Sri Lanka, so that we can consider the request further in accordance with our laws.”
Singapore can extradite fugitives to declared Commonwealth countries, which include Sri Lanka.
In February last year, Mahendran was named a key suspect in the multi-million dollar bond scam in Sri Lanka. He fled abroad, failing to appear in court to respond to charges.
A damning presidential report into the scandal accused Mahendran of insider trading and recommended the state recover its losses from Mahendran and his son-in-law.
Sri Lanka’s central bank also launched a forensic audit to ascertain the extent of insider trading during Mahendran’s tenure at the bank.
The fallout deepened acrimony between Sirisena and his coalition partner Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who handpicked Mahendran to head the central bank in 2015.
The pair’s strained relationship collapsed entirely in late 2018, when Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe, plunging the country into political chaos as both men competed for power.
Wickremesinghe was reappointed after months of limbo when the Supreme Court intervened and ruled that Sirisena had acted outside the constitution by dismissing the prime minister and parliament.