reporting speech by AJ Cabraal to Foreign Correspondents Association — The Island, 20 February 2014, where the title reads “Last stages of War: Tamils moved with billions of rupees strapped to their bodies – Cabraal”
Currency notes to the tune of billions of rupees, most of which were soiled as a result of being tied to the bodies of Northern Tamils who were forced to move about with the LTTE during the last stages of the war, had been deposited with state banks during May 2009, the Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal revealed yesterday.
Addressing the Foreign Correspondents Association, after its members had visited the Bank’s Currency Museum, Cabraal said that two days after the conflict had concluded, he and his officials along with staff of the Bank of Ceylon and Peoples Bank, visited the refugee camps in the North. “Initially the Tamils were reluctant to deposit their monies with us, since they did not know where it would go. But once we identified ourselves, the notes flowed in. It ran into billions of rupees. Containers had to be used to collect and transport them to the respective banks.”
The Governor pointed out that during the last three months of the war, Tamil civilians in Wanni had left their homes, after taking whatever cash and gold that was in their possession.”The notes were strapped mainly to their hips and legs, which had got soiled due to them having to move through marshy land and lagoons. The spoilt currency notes had to be replaced.” “You could say that it was the closest the Central Bank had come to money laundering,” a smiling Governor said.
Asked how much of cash and gold had been collected, Cabraal replied that the notes alone ran into billions of rupees. Cabraal announced that the Central Bank was planning to issue a new series of ten rupee coins in stainless steel, depicting features relevant to each of the 25 districts by September.
One side of the coin would be the same for all the districts and could be used in any part of the country, he noted “For example the coin released in Colombo would have an image of the city and port. The Nuwara Eliya coin would have a picture of tea pluckers. Religious, cultural and socio economic themes would also be used. We have fined tuned the artistry, but the thoughts came from the public in the form of 256 entries.”