Thursday 22, July 1999

Customs seize 57 kilos of old Dutch coins

by Manjula Fernando

The Archaeological Department has confirmed that the 57 kilos of Sri Lankan VOC coins seized by Customs officers recently belong to the 17th century, Customs sources at the Bandaranaike International Airport told the Daily News.

The coins which depicted the year of minting as 1706 were seized by the Customs when a man from Puttalam attempted to smuggle them to Singapore recently. They were referred to the Archaeological Department to verify their authenticity.

However the Archaeological Department had conveyed that it is unable to estimate the value of the coins which are classified as antique goods.

At the Customs inquiry the passenger said he was taking the coins to sell them to a Singaporean interested in Asian antiquities for a sum of Rs.200,000. According to his statement he had collected them from Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa areas.

Sources said a proper investigation should be initiated by the relevant authorities in view of this case which was an attempt to smuggle Lankan antiquities to another country. Authorities are also baffled as to how the Puttalam resident acquired the hoard of coins.

They said the Customs had to release the passenger after collecting a fine of Rs. 50,000 since it was not possible to determine the actual value of the coins which could have been very high.

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Copyright 1996 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited

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