Judge Amal Ranaraja of the Colombo High Court has withdrawn from the case against four Customs agents who demanded a bribe of Rs. 125 million from a businessman who imports auto components.
He has withdrawn from the case, which is regarded as the largest bribe ever demanded in Sri Lanka.
According to the judge, the fourth accused requested that the case be transferred to another High Court, claiming that doing so would disadvantage him.
The Colombo High Court Judge took the request into consideration and forwarded the case to the Colombo Chief High Court for review.
The Bribery Commission has filed 14 counts of indictments, which claim that between June 22, 2015, and October 15, 2015, numerous Custom officers conspired to solicit and receive Rs. 150 million in Panchikawatte, Colombo.
The concerned Customs officials had disclosed to a foreign business that a post-audit had revealed that the Sri Lanka Transport Board needed to pay Rs. 1.5 billion before a shipment of spare parts could be released (SLTB).
The Customs officers subsequently notified the local party that payment might be avoided if a bribe of Rs. 150 million was paid, according to the Bribery Commission. Later, a price of Rs. 125 million was agreed upon.
The Bribery Commission was then notified by the local party, and it intervened and set a trap to capture the Customs officers.