The department is accused of not taking any action against fraudulent officers, despite the continued malpractices that had taken place. “The ongoing scams have already made the country to lose billions of rupees over the years,” sources said.
The officials who wished to remain anonymous alleged that the Department of Motor Traffic (DMT) has become a den of corruption which cannot be ignored.
“It is surprising as to why the present officials at the Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry do not take any action against those involved. Although the government auditors have exposed all the malpractices, neither the Finance Ministry nor the Transport Ministry in the previous regime had taken any steps even to seek an explanation from DMT officers,” sources said.
According to sources, in 2013, the Government auditors exposed as to how the DMT had registered eight super luxury vehicles illegally as a result of which the country lost more than Rs 50 million in revenue.
“We too are in receipt of these audit queries and reports but it is interesting to know why the Finance Ministry is silent over these issues as it is the Finance Ministry which is adversely affected due to these scams more than any other department. We know how certain high ranking officials in the Finance Ministry, the Treasury and the Transport Ministry during the previous regime were involved in these scams in a big way and that was why they did not take any action against the DMT officials in order to assist the Auditor General’s Department investigation. Even we have proof to prove these malpractices,” sources claimed.
According to sources, replacing top officials in the Motor Traffic Department is not the solution unless immediate action is taken against those who are engaged in the alleged fraud.
“We hope that the new Commissioner General will not get caught to these officers but would take immediate steps to transfer the officers to different departments blocking them from engaging in the scam,” sources alleged.
“When the investigation officers of the Auditor General’s Department checked the vehicles that have been registered under ‘KL’ it had come to light as to how eight super luxury vehicles have been registered with forged Customs declarations (CUSDEC). When the auditors checked with the Customs Department it was revealed that seven CUSDECs have been forged and according to the details, the Customs Department does not show that vehicles have been imported but have imported motorcycles. When a vehicle is brought to the DMT for registration, it should accompany the CUSDEC. Although seven CUSDECs have been furnished for the eight vehicles, none of these luxury vehicles have paid Customs duty. From these CUSDECs four Mercedes Benz cars and four other super luxury vehicles have been registered,” sources added.
According to the sources, seven forged CUSDECs have been used to register these eight vehicles.
Seven forged CUSDECs – CBLR 19935 dated November 10, 2008; CBLR 19979 dated November 13, 2008; CBLR 19952 dated November 11, 2008; CBLR 19953, 2008 have been used to register dated November 11, 2008; CBLR 970 dated January 31, 2006; CBLR 10726 dated May 05, 2008 and CBLR 19956 dated November 11 have been used to register a Mercedes Benz (chassis number WDB 2100062B284028) on August 10, 2010, a Mercedes Benz (chassis number WDB 2100372A086915) and Mitsubishi Montero (chassis number V78-0005959) on August 8, 2010, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (chassis number HDJ101-0018153) on August 09, 2010, Mitsubishi Montero (chassis number HDJ101-0020388) on August 9, 2010, Mercedes Benz (chassis number WDB2110062A910970) on August 11, 2010, Mercedes Benz (chassis number WDC2030352R007584) and Toyota Allion (chassis number NZT240-5008285) on August 18 and a motor car (chassis number JTEHCO5J304015477) on August 10, 2010 respectively.
Sources further added that the government auditors have found out how the DMT had bypassed 40 numbers under the KL category when registering vehicles.
“Vehicles have not registered under KL-0325, KL-0540, KL-0855, KL- 0856, KL-1579, KL- 1588, KL- 1771, KL- 1968, KL- 2303, KL-2320, KL-1830, KL-2656, KL-2620, KL- 3350, KL- 3498, KL- 3649, KL-4254, KL- 4668, KL- 4675, KL-5426, KL-5473, KL- 6256, KL-6656, KL-6943, KL-7196, KL- 7238, KL-7749, KL-8504, KL- 8572, KL- 8648, KL- 8661, KL-8748, KL-8899, KL-8960, KL- 8981, KL- 9248, KL-9278, KL- 9463, KL- 9638 and KL-9999 numbers which has raised eyebrows of the government auditors. Why did the officers in the registration department miss out these numbers when registering vehicles. As every data has been fed to the system there is no way for them to miss out these numbers but solely to ‘use’ them when the officers want to register vehicles brought illegally to the country,” sources alleged.
According to sources although the auditors requested the then Commissioner General to take immediate remedial action not to fill these numbers with vehicles imported with bogus documents, no action was taken to adhere to the Auditor General Department requests.
“We were informed about the malpractices that have taken place at the DMT and worried as to why stern action has not been taken against those who were involved in the scams. Unless those who were involved are brought to book, there is no purpose of our officials carrying out investigations at the DMT. We have been highlighting these issues over the years and have given the details to the Committee of Public Enterprise (COPE) but sadly no action has been taken against any DMT official and they have been allowed to carry on the racket they were engaged in. Certain parliamentarians do not want to take action against the officials at the DMT and Sri Lanka Customs as they help those politicians to import goods to the country without paying Customs duty and register vehicles on fraudulent documents. Hence the Auditor General’s Department does not expect those politicians to take action against the DMT and Customs Department,” Auditor General Department sources said.
All attempts to contact government auditors at the DMT for a comment were unsuccessful.
Former Commissioner General of the Department of Motor Traffic, S. H. Harischandra said that he was able to streamline the vehicle registration and transfer procedure and did not leave any room to register vehicles based on forged documents.
“I took over office as the Commissioner General in 2012 and most of the audit queries and reports were based on incidents that had taken place before my period. There were instances where vehicles imported by a former minister in the previous regime were involved in these scams but I was not able to take any action as the documents pertaining to those vehicles had gone missing,” Harischandra said.
When asked as to what action he has taken against the officials who are involved in malpractices and why he failed to de-register the vehicles that have furnished fraudulent documents to get the vehicles registered, Harischandra said that he was able to de-register one such vehicle and has taken action against those who were involved in the scam.
“I have worked hand-in-glove with the government officers and they have said that I was the only Commissioner General that had helped them to carry out the investigations easily. I have acted according to the law and no one can accuse me for the malpractices that is said to be happening at the DMT,” Hrischandra added.
Several calls were made by this reporter to contact the present Commissioner General of Motor Traffic, Jagath Chandrasiri and messages were left at his office. However Chandrasiri’s office did not return the calls. Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Transport Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara also could not be reached for a comment. Sundaytimes