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* Sri Lanka's ex-ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya pleads not guilty to embezzlement charges in U.S. Court
Sun, Feb 3, 2019, 12:25 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 03, Colombo: Sri Lanka's former Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Chitran Wickramasuriya pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and embezzlement when he was arraigned in a U.S. Court this week.

Wickramasuriya, a relative of former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was arraigned in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on the 29th January, the Sunday Observer reported

Wickramasuriya pleaded not guilty to a five-count indictment including money laundering, wire fraud and visa fraud, after he was read out the charges against him.

The case will go to trial now, and a date was yet to be fixed for the start of the hearing.

A Grand Jury in May 2018 indicted the former Ambassador to the U.S. on five counts - two counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering and one count of immigration fraud.

This is in connection with the embezzlement of US$ 320,000 funds of the Sri Lankan government intended for the purchase of a new embassy building in Washington.

Wickramasuriya was charged in a Sri Lankan court for accepting a US$ 332,000 commission from a contract awarded to refurbish the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington DC while serving as the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US under the previous government.

Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) of the Police arrested Wickramasuriya on November 18, 2016. He was granted permission in July 2017 to travel to U.S. for eight weeks for medical treatment. However he did not return to the country.

Wickramasuriya was appointed as Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the United States and Mexico in August 2008 by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.


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