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SL High Commission bares LTTE links to clone credit card scam in UK

The First Secretary to Sri Lanka High Commissioner in the UK speaking to the BBC has said that the LTTE is well behind the clone card scam recently bared by the British sleuths. First secretary (Political) Mr. Maxwell Keegel giving interviews to BBC World Service Television, BBC channel One and BBC News TV on Saturday (21) said that considerable evidence is available to show that the fraud as been committed by the LTTE.

"We've got considerable evidence on this and we've known that this has been happening for a long time, how cards are skimmed in petrol stations here and information is transmitted almost immediately to LTTE operatives in other parts of the world who pick up this information and withdrew large sums of money", Mr. Keegel said.

The transcript of the interviews given by Mr. Keegel to BBC is given below:

BBC Television Channel one breakfast programme:

Presenter: What evidence do you have to link the credit card fraud at the petrol stations to the Tamil tigers?

Mr. Keegel: There is a lot of evidence. The LTTE network in the UK is very well organized. The arrests that have been taken place in some areas in the UK is only the tip of the iceberg as it were. There is a much larger network operating across the UK.

Presenter: You are not suggesting that the Tamil Tigers are somehow coercing the employees of these petrol stations into the scam?

Mr. Keegel: What is actually happening is a lot of Tamils that come into the UK are lent money by the LTTE to start up petrol stations and news agencies. And once they have started operating these petrol stations and news agencies they manage to get the details off them. These details are then used to draw very large sums of money from far off counties such as Thailand, Indonesia and so on to fund the LTTE's military aggression in Sri Lanka.

Presenter: They are actually coercing the employees into doing something illegal?

Mr. Keegel: All what the operatives of the petrol stations and the news agencies actually do is to pass the details of the credit cards once it is copied. In fact they do not really benefit from the funds because in fact the funds are really withdrawn in other parts of the world. And this involves large sums of money running into millions of pounds.

Presenter: A lot of people who are responded to our programme have been saying that this is terribly bad news about credit scam and that it is implicating a lot of innocent Sri Lankans out there in the community who are really innocent and very legal business. How do you deal with this?

Mr. Keegal: This is exactly that we've been telling the authorities and talking to them about. We have been telling them to investigate the activities of the key LTTE operatives in the UK. Because what you are finding now is that by arresting people in different parts of the country you are not really seeing the whole picture of the entire crime network.

Presenter: How is the Sri Lanka Government cooperating with the police in dealing this kind of organised crime?

Mr. Keegal: Well we laid a lot of evidence in their hands. They've got to investigate it. This would involve taking action against the LTTE fund raising network, which is something that can be easily be dealt with as the evidence is available.

BBC News 24 Television Programme:

Presenter: What do you think is going on here?

Mr. Keegal: We have evidence that the LTTE fund raising network here is very much into this. What they do is to assist asylum seekers who come into this country to set up petrol stations and news agencies. And thereafter with their assistance details are obtained and money is instantly withdrawn in countries as far away as Thailand, Indonesia and so on.

Presenter: And is this done with the knowledge of the people who run this business of the employees?

Mr. Keegal: As far as they are concerned they are merely returning the favour of helping them to set up in business. Unlike in the past where the LTTE was mainly extracting funds from the Tamil Diaspora in the UK. It is now tapping into the resources of the British public at large who are unknowingly funding the LTTE. And as a result of this, a number of members of the British public without realising it end up funding the LTTE.

Presenter: How can you prove this Link between the Tamil Tigers and the scam?

Mr. Keegal: Well there is considerable evidence that we have already given to the authorities. Well what we were telling the authorities repeatedly is that instead of looking at isolated incidents that they should be taking action against LTTE crime network in the UK, which is behind this and that the whole scam can be stymied or stopped thereby.

Presenter: Are these generalisations? Are you suggesting that all the petrol stations operated by people from a particular community in a particular part of Sri Lanka could be responsible for this?

Mr. Keegal: I must emphasize that I am not talking about the Tamil community or for that matter the Sri Lankan Community. I am talking about the LTTE terror network in the UK. The LTTE network is fairly small in terms of persons. In fact a lot of innocent Tamils have been drawn into this through LTTE's methods of coercion and intimation.

Presenter: What are the authorities doing since it is now suggested that millions of pounds are involved?

Mr. Keegal: Well we are doing everything we can to help to the bottom of it. What we only hope is that we will get more assistance from the authorities here to get to the bottom of it. At the moment the authorities are more focused on the activities of other terrorists movements operating here. What they forget is that the LTTE is closely linked with the Al Qaeda movement in its commercial dealings and activities. This has already been researched by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. I think there is a need for greater focus on the LTTE connection with this scam.

Meanwhile, Mr: Keith Doyle, The BBC reporter who investigates into the alleged credit card fraud has expressed his findings in favour of Mr. Keegal's views as follows.

"So many people go into the petrol stations. So many people use the machine. So it is really routine. You put the card in the machines exactly in the normal way. The machines have been tampered with or been added to. So when you put your card in the details of the magnetic strip of the card is read. In addition there is a hidden camera in a petrol station, which reads your pin number. Information is transmitted aboard very quickly and the cards are cloned. And these cloned cards are used to withdraw money anywhere out there in the world. But this particular scam is significant because of the particular scale of it and is clamed that the Tamil Tigers are involved. This terrorists group is in Sri Lanka. This is on a massive scale. Although it may be a 100 pounds here 100 pounds there, although of course we did talk to a person earlier in the programme who said that he has lost over 1000 pounds. It's being collected in small sums over a period of time and so it really amounts to very large sums. Of course to particular individual it may mean only a few hundred pounds. Over 200 patrol stations have been hit so far and it is happening countrywide. With regard to the link with the Tamil Tigers, well the police are investigating that. Police are confirming of course that Sri Lankan Tamils are involved. Of course the Sri Lankan Government is saying that there is a connection with the Tamil Tigers. Of course we know that the Sri Lankan Government has an axe to grind with the Tigers but it is very clear that it is very sophisticated network. Of course this is not to say that all Sri Lankans working in petrol stations are involved. Of coursed this is something that the police are investigating but I must add that it is happening on a massive scale."

"What happens when you go into a patrol station? There are 9500 petrol stations across the UK. The card system has been compromised. It has been infiltrated and some how the information at the back of the card is immediately sent aboard. It is happening not only on an individual scale in small sums but on a large scale across UK. It is happening to thousand of motorists all the time."

Related Articles :  

British Citizens' money being pumped to LTTE bloodshed?

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Funding the final war'; U.K based LTTE extortions - Al Jazeera'

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