It is understood that criminal investigators were looking into three separate issues – the allegedly fraudulent dual citizenship, obtaining of a new NIC without surrendering the old one and violation of the immigration act to obtain a new passport.
“It is a very, very serious matter,” an immigration official said asking not to be named. The official said they were also unable to trace some of the related files going back to a period from 2005 when Rajapaksa himself was the secretary to the ministry of defence.
The defence ministry was responsible for both the passport and identity card offices.
The latest development came even as questions were raised as to whether Rajapaksa had renounced his US nationality which he had obtained in 2003. A dual citizen cannot contest Sri Lankan presidential elections in line with the 19th amendment to the constitution .
In November 2005, on the day his brother Mahinda was sworn in as President, he had applied for Sri Lankan (dual) citizenship.
Within just one working day of applying for dual citizenship, he had been granted Sri Lankan nationality, but two days before a cabinet was appointed and three days before a ministry secretary could be appointed.
“The allegation is that he did not obtain Sri Lankan citizenship through proper means,” the immigration official said.
“Now we are told that he renounced his US nationality on May 3 and if the police findings are upheld, we have a situation where Mr. Rajapaksa is stateless.”
Election Commission documents also showed that Rajapaksa was using an old NIC number which should have been invalidated at the time he obtained dual Sri Lankan nationality in November 2005.
In a statement to the Daily Mirror newspaper on Saturday, Rajapaksa said he did not know how his old ID number appeared in the electoral register, something that has to be signed and certified by the chief occupant, in this case, Rajapaksa himself.
“I filled the form stating the new ID number and mentioned the old ID number within brackets for reference purposes since the new ID number they issue bears a different form of numbering whereas the normal identity card number is derived from the birthday of the person,” Rajapaksa said in a statement to the Daily Mirror.
“Also once the new identity card number is given to a person the Department of Registration of Persons informs all relevant government departments about it.
“As such they have informed of this change to the Elections Department as well. But for some reason what appears in the electoral registers is the old ID number,” Rajapaksa said.
However, there was no immediate comment from the independent Election Commission.
An offence under Presidential Elections act of 1981 carries a penalty of losing civic rights for a period of seven years and is a disqualification to contest that election for seven years from the date of a conviction.