Sri Lanka has banned private floating armouries, but Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) will be allowed to function (...) following a major scandal over the functioning of the Lanka-based PMSC, Avant Garde Maritime Security Services Ltd (AGMSL).
(...) the controversial company, which ironically was a Joint Venture (JV) with the Defence Ministry’s security firm Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Ltd (RALL). The JV, entered into in 2012, has since been cancelled. (...)
From 2009 to 2012, the Navy was the repository of weapons that were lent to the PMSCs for anti-piracy operations in the Red Sea area. After the setting up of the RALL-AGMSL JV, which acquired two floating armouries, the Navy lost revenue to the tune of LKR 1.2 billion (US$ 8.4 million), according to a report.
Several illegalities in the operation of the RALL-AGMSL JV were discovered after the exit of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government in January this year. The AGMSL’s floating armouries had sailed in the high seas with weapons that were not authorised, police and the Navy alleged.
In October, one of its floating armouries had sailed into Indian waters off Minicoy, and also entered Maldivian waters, thus exposing itself to punitive action by the Indian and Maldivian navies.
Permission to enter Galle port was taken from the Defence Ministry, but only at the end of the journey. When the vessel entered the port, it had 861 weapons on board, but authorisation had been given for only three specified weapons and three Sea Marshals. The vessel’s crew had kept its route a secret and also lied about their captain’s identity. Besides, there are money laundering and corruption cases against the AGMSL, which are being investigated.