Sri Lankan securities regulator arrested for misappropriation

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A top securities regulator was arrested on Friday in Sri Lanka on suspicion of financial misappropriation, a police spokesman said.

Dhammika Perera, the deputy director of the Sri Lankan Securities and Exchange Commission, is now under compulsory leave.

He was arrested by the Financial Crime Investigation Department, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said, after a seven-month investigation of a suspected 5 million-rupee ($34,940) misappropriation that occurred in 2013.

The money was given to a youth organisation, Tharuyata Hetak or “Better Tomorrow for Youth”, headed by Namal Rajapaksa, a parliamentarian and the eldest son of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, police said. Perera headed the SEC investigation unit in Rajapaksa’s government.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, addressing a function at the Colombo Stock Exchange on Wednesday said the country needs an efficient and transparent stock market and want Colombo Stock Exchange to grow and become the center for South Asia.

“It also requires complete confidence in the stock exchange so it’s best you address these issues for yourself,” Wickremesinghe said at a ceremony in Colombo to mark 30 years of the foundation of the Colombo Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka’s stock market index plummeted over 36 percent after reaching a record high of 7,863.74 points on Feb. 15, 2011. ($1 = 143.1000 Sri Lankan rupees)