Five arrested for smuggling foreign currency out of forex-hit Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – Five Sri Lankans were arrested on Saturday (29) by the Narcotics Division of Sri Lanka Customs for attempting to smuggle foreign currency out of the country, according to a statement from the Customs Union.

Sri Lanka is currently in the midst of one of the worst economic crises in the country’s history, made worse by a crippling shortage of foreign currency amid double-digit inflation after excessive money printing.

The five suspects were questioned by customs officers last night as they attempted to board Emirates Airlines flight EK-649 to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Further inquiries revealed a reserve of foreign currency worth 25 million rupees hidden in the luggage.

The reserve consisted of 95,000 US dollars, 18,000 euros and 37,000 Saudi riyals.

According to the Government Information Center website, anyone can carry foreign currency worth up to USD 10,000 “in any form” out of the country. However, if the amount of money in banknotes exceeds USD 5,000, the entire amount must be declared.

There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency one can bring into the country, but if the sum exceeds USD 15,000, it must be declared at customs.

Amid Sri Lanka’s worsening currency crisis, authorities are cracking down on those involved in currency smuggling and similar schemes, officials said.

In a related incident on January 20, Customs arrested five suspects for attempting to smuggle foreign currency worth Rs 42 million into Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The change consisted of 22,300 US dollars, 63,500 euros, 292,000 Saudi riyals, 8,725 British pounds and 75,000 United Arab Emirates dirhams hidden inside the luggage.

Investigations are ongoing into both incidents, customs officials said. (Colombo/January 30, 2022)