Allegations of Financial Fraud Rock Sri Lanka Medical Council’s Legal Unit

Amidst Allegations of Financial Fraud, Sri Lanka Medical Council’s Legal Unit Faces Scrutiny

Allegations of financial fraud and irregularities have surfaced within the Legal Unit of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), following an independent audit report highlighting financial discrepancies spanning from 2018 to 2022. Titled “Report on the Investigation of the Payment of Legal Fees from 2018 to 2022 and Evaluation of Functions of the Finance Division of the Sri Lanka Medical Council,” the report was submitted by a senior Additional Auditor General (Retired) on January 19, 2024.

During the monthly meeting of the SLMC on Thursday, February 22, the report, detailing discrepancies in legal fee disbursements totalling approximately Rs. 43.3 million, was tabled and minuted. Notably, a significant portion of the funds, approximately Rs. 36.9 million, was disbursed to external lawyers without formal agreements, while the SLMC’s Legal Officer received Rs. 6.4 million without proper approval procedures, raising concerns among council members.

The audit report called into question the selection process for lawyers, lack of proper documentation for payments, and the potential for obtaining legal services from the Attorney General’s Department, given the SLMC’s statutory authority. In response to the findings, the SLMC’s Legal and Finance Units have been instructed to provide explanations at the next monthly meeting in March.

Meanwhile, the continued presence of the legal officer in question, who remains on a contract appointment, has drawn criticism, particularly given the gravity of the accusations and the potential damage to the SLMC’s credibility. Sources within the organization have hinted at a close association between the officer and a senior official of the SLMC, adding complexity to the unfolding scandal.

Concerned parties are contemplating further action, including reporting the matter to the Bribery & Corruption Commission and the disciplinary body of the legal profession. They argue that unless the contract appointment of the responsible officer is promptly terminated, addressing the misconduct may prove challenging.

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