Ajith Nivard Cabraal

Colombo: For the second time, a local court here on Monday extended the travel ban on Ajith Nivard Cabraal, former governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka, from travelling abroad as mounting economic woes roil the island nation.

The Colombo Magistrate’s Court has extended the travel ban until July 25, Colombo Page news portal reported.

On April 7, the court barred 67-year-old Cabraal from travelling out. The travel ban was again extended on April 18.

Cabraal has been named as a suspect in a personal complaint filed alleging misappropriation of funds while serving as the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

The complaint was taken up before Colombo Additional Magistrate Harshana Kekunawala on Monday, the report added.

Cabraal was not present in court when the complaint was called and President’s Counsel Shavindra Fernando appeared for him. The lawyer informed the court that his client has been summoned and that he would appear before the court the next day.

The lawyers representing the plaintiff had also requested the court to submit a list of the names of the parties that were paid on January 18 this year in relation to international sovereign bonds to the court.

The court granted the request and directed the Central Bank to submit a list of parties who had been paid for the sovereign bonds.

Former Governor of the Southern Province Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon had lodged this personal complaint.

The complaint alleges that during his tenure as the Central Bank governor from July 1, 2006, to January 8, 2015, Cabraal had paid a sum of USD 6.5 million to Pakistani American political donor Imaad Zuberi without the Cabinet’s approval and thereby is responsible for criminal breach of trust and criminal abuse of funds.

The complaint also alleges that while serving as the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Cabraal caused a loss of USD 500 million to the Government of Sri Lanka through sovereign bonds due on January 18, 2022.

The complaint alleges that the Sri Lankan government incurred a loss of Rs. 10.04 billion rupees through the appointing of close relatives to positions and from the release of confidential information on Treasury bills and bond issues, during his tenure as the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Cabraal, who had resisted calls for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, resigned on April 3, less than seven months after being appointed. In September 2021, he replaced WD Lakshman to take over for his second term as Central Bank governor.

Cabraal left office at a time when inflation in Sri Lanka was at an all-time high.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the UK in 1948. The economic crisis also triggered a political turmoil in the island nation with citizens holding nationwide street protests for weeks over lengthy power cuts and shortage of fuel, food and other daily essentials and demanding the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

A crippling shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas and other essentials while power cuts and soaring food prices heaped misery on the people.

Cabraal was widely blamed for his rigid stance against the IMF bailout package for the country.

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