Social media yesterday (26) published a copy of the said order, but pro-Rajapaksa media refuted it and claimed it was a fake.
However, the finance ministry statement today admits releasing the money to its owner on “humanitarian grounds”, following an appeal by the Iranian ambassador in Colombo.
It says the Iranian national, employed in the Uma Oya project, was taking the dollars, which were the salaries of Iranians working in the project.
Iranian nationals cannot transact in US dollars due to UN-approved sanctions imposed on their country over their rivalry with the US.
The statement also says this is not the first time that foreign nationals working in the Uma Oya project had been taking their salaries out of the country.
In a previous instance, an Iranian was caught trying to take more than 10,000 Euros out of the country without Customs clearance.
The then finance minister Mangala Samaraweera instructed that the money be released upon the payment of relevant taxes.
Laws pertaining to taking Euros out of the country are lenient than taking US dollars out of the country.
Iranians are not barred from transacting in Euros either.