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* Seychelles says ties with Sri Lanka go beyond politics, offers to assist investigations
Fri, Jan 23, 2015, 09:00 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 23, Colombo: Responding to the allegations made in Sri Lanka media that the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his aides have assets hidden in Seychelles, the Seychelles government reiterated that it has nothing to hide and offered to assist in any investigation in the "framework of treaties that are in force" between the two countries.

Seychelles Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam has written to his Sri Lankan counterpart Minister Mangala Samaraweera expressing concern at the unfounded allegations leveled against the financial services sector of Seychelles in the Sri Lankan media reports.

Minister Adam refuting the "baseless accusation stressed that "the allegations made against our financial services sector are unfounded."

"We refute the baseless accusation made in that article that "Seychelles is known to be a safe haven for stolen assets and a money laundering hub, Should the Sri Lankan authorities wish to further look into this issue, kindly count on the unwavering support of the Government of Seychelles to ensure that the appropriate investigation is conducted," said Minister Adam.

The Seychelles Minister emphasized that the partnership between the two countries is one which goes 'beyond politics.'

"The Government of Seychelles has expressed its desire to continue to work closely with Sri Lanka and that the excellent ties that the two island states share are an expression of people to people relationships based on shared cultural, diplomatic and commercial aspirations which are beyond politics," Minister Jean-Paul Adam said in a statement.

"There are so many areas where mutually beneficial partnerships have been formed- from the boats being built by Seychellois in Sri Lankan shipyards to the emergence of Sri Lanka as one of the preferred destinations for Seychellois for tourism, including medical tourism. These ties go beyond politics," emphasized the Minister.

The Minister stated that Seychelles had confidence that agreements exist between the two countries as well as their partnership in multilateral initiatives tackling possible financial crimes could be used to address any concerns.

He stressed that the Government of Seychelles is willing to co-operate to pursue any investigations in regards to these allegations, especially since any Sri Lankan investments can be verified under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement signed between the two countries which included a Tax Information Exchange Component, a standard for all agreements of this nature signed by Seychelles.

Cooperation between the two countries developed in numerous fields including trade and investment, defence, renewable energy, education and training, health, diplomacy, fisheries, sports and culture will be consolidated in the years to come, he affirmed.

Minister Adam has met with Sri Lankan High Commissioner accredited to Seychelles Rajitha Piyatissa and highlighted that a strong relationship exists between Sri Lanka and Seychelles going beyond politics. The High Commissioner has concurred and remarked that both nations shared "a mutually beneficial partnership across a variety of fields that should be fostered."

Minister Adam said the allegations in the media are not a reflection of the comprehensive and reciprocal relationship enjoyed by the two countries and regardless of the allegations Sri Lanka and Seychelles will continue to maintain a solid working relationship and strategic partnership.

Minister Adam reiterated the remarks in his message to High Commissioner Piyatissa that Seychelles valued its relationship with Sri Lanka and looks forward to continue to foster close ties.

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