Canada forfeits assets of Tamil group

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was banned in Canada in 2006.

Updated: Jan 22, 2011, 13:44 PM IST

Toronto: Canada`s Federal Court has ordered the forfeiture of properties of two Tamil non-profit organisations for raising millions of dollars to support the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that was banned here in 2006.

Under the court order, the World Tamil Movement of Ontario and the World Tamil Movement of Quebec will forfeit their properties in Montreal and Toronto.

As a result of the court order, the Canadian government will now own the WTM`s bank accounts, its headquarters in Montreal, cash and propaganda material, including posters of LTTE boss Vellupillai Prabhakaran, LTTE flags, logos and T-shirts seized during the raid.

Formed in 1986, the WTM came under the scanner in 2002 on suspicions of being a front for raising money for the Tamil Tigers in their fight against the Sri Lankan government.

After keeping surveillance on WTM office bearers and recording their activities, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raided its offices in Toronto and Montreal in 2006 after the Canadian government banned the Tamil Tigers.

Seized documents showed that the WTM ran a pre-authorised programme to withdraw money from people`s accounts, raising as much as USD 763,000 a year, according to media reports.

The documents also revealed that the WTM sent over USD 3 million from its bank accounts to overseas accounts, including a Malaysian account linked to the LTTE.

Police also found letters by the LTTE seeking donations for buying weapons.

The WTM reportedly didn`t contest forfeiture of its properties in Toronto and Montreal, saying the Tamil Canadian community has moved on.

But RCMP officials said they are still keeping a watch on the Tamil Tigers.

"They do remain a focus because we do have concerns as to if they`re going to regroup and ... if they do, how are they going to do it. Are they going to be going through violence or through political influence?" RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud told the National Post newspaper.

Canada is home to the largest Sri Lankan Tamil community outside the island nation.