18 August, 2019

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CAASL Director Operations Caught On Tape Demanding Bribe And Stake In Airline For Granting AOC

Director Operations Lushan Fernando of the Civil Aviation Authority has been caught on tape soliciting bribes and demanding a stake in Serendib Airways in return for the speedy issuance of an Air Operators Certificate, Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.

Lushan Fernando

The recorded phone conversations take place between Lushan Fernando Director Operations of CAASL and Sonal Fernando a Post Holder of the airline (Readers can listen to two recordings at the bottom of the article)

Serendib Airways & Airport Services is an airline which has commenced their application process to commence domestic air operations within Sri Lanka and subsequently to operate flights from Colombo to overseas destinations.

Whilst haggling to seek CAASL Director Lushan Fernando’s support in order to obtain the Airline Operator’s Certificate (AOC), Post Holder Sonal Fernando is heard negotiating a reduction from the monthly fee Lushan Fernando demands as a bribe. Director Lushan Fernando is also clearly heard speaking in the vernacular in various intervals and translated into English saying “I must start my own airline one day. I will get your AOC in two to three months, and if I don’t get a share in your company, then you might as well go fly a kite. I come from good Catholic background. I need to make my retirement plan. I am not a bloody fool. Without me you can’t proceed.”

Meanwhile Prasad Fernandopulle the Chairman of Serendib Airways and Airport Services officially submitted the phone recordings and a letter to H.M.C. Nimalasiri the Director General of Civil Aviation Authority on the 27th of November 2018.

However more than three works later the Director General CAASL H.M.C. Nimalasiri is yet to commence even an internal inquiry into this complaint.

What is further unacceptable is that Director General Nimalasiri is yet to even officially acknowledge receipt of Chairman Serendib Airways’ letter of complaint.

Serendib Airways’ Chairman Prasad Fernandopulle’s letter of complaint submitted to CAASL

Speaking to Colombo Telegraph the Chairman Serendib Airways Fernandopulle said “I have officially submitted a letter of complaint along with the phone recordings to Director General Nimalasiri of the CAASL. Lushan Fernando made several demands in return for issuing us the AOC to operate officially. He initially demanded US $ 10,000 to be credited to an account of his in Dubai every month. He also wanted these monies banked in such a way that it could not be traced to him from Sri Lanka. These monies were demanded to be credited from the time the application has been submitted. He also wants a post as a Director in our airline and further, he demands that we invest US $ 150 million in a project he recommends. If we had that amount of money we would be operating Airbus aircraft under a different business model. Now even though we have obtained some business we have to pay exorbitant rates to other domestic carriers to transport our customers. Currently we are deliberating in submitting our complaint to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption as well.”

When Colombo Telegraph contacted Director General CAASL H.M.C. Nimalasiri, he confirmed saying “Yes, I did receive an official complaint from Serendib Airways. I have not yet commenced an investigation into this matter. I have instructed Director Operations Lushan Fernando to make up his mind as to what he wishes to do from now on. He is anyway currently on probation. He has been with the CAASL for a year and a half and his probationary period is for three years.”

When Colombo Telegraph further questioned Director General CAASL Nimalasiri as to what course of action he would take if Lushan Fernando does not resign from his post, he said “What he has done is totally unacceptable. If he does not resign then, I will have to make a decision on that”.

What is suspect is in this instance is that Director General CAASL Nimalasiri will continue to brush this aside despite all the evidence being presented.

He has done such things in the past too.

The CAASL has over the years been embroiled and tainted for many such acts of alleged fraud and corruption.

In the recent past, the CAASL also under Director General Nimalasiri was exposed for fraudulently selling the question and answer sheets to pilots who sat their ATPL Examinations.

In that instance the ATPL Examinations was under the purview of the former Director Flight Safety CAASL Susantha De Silva who also oversaw Personal Licensing, Flight Operations and Airworthiness who got away despite the matter been investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department of Sri Lanka.

Despite all these allegations the former Director Flight Safety Susantha De Silva took wing to Bangkok Thailand to secure employment in ICAO’s regional office, a job which he currently still holds. (by Janaka Ranaweera) 

 

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Latest comments

  • 2
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    Anonymous

    “And the truth will be revealed soon…..”

    The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off
    – Gloria Steinem, Joe Klaas, Anne Kristine Stuart, David Icke, Bill Cosby, Erin Brockovich, Anonymous?

  • 1
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    Even his name (Lucian), his photo above, his voice on tape – all tells me he is a crook

  • 2
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    A Director Operations ought not speak like that strangers. That itself disqualifies him from holding the job

  • 3
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    How in the world he calls himself a Captian?

  • 4
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    Y is he not arrested. Incarcerate this bastard now for seeking bribes worth of millions. Who’s protecting him? Is it My3?

  • 3
    9

    Prasada Fernandopulle Chairman & CEO of Serandib Air is a Tamil. Could this be yet another Tamil plot to discredit a Sinhalese?

  • 3
    1

    Well said, I am glad you took some time to listen to the phone conversation recordings, before judging Lushan and accusing him of asking for bribes. The truth in this case, as to my opinion would be the lack of understanding of the English language of all these people who accuse Lushan of asking for bribes and also the poor negotiating skills, displayed by Lushan in trying to secure perks for a job that was offered to him.

    • 1
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      You think only you understand the English language. A big joke. Let there be an investigation and if he is clean let him prove it, rather than we jumping to our own opinions and conclusions.

  • 0
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    I heard he is still the Operations Manager at Civil Aviation. My God!

  • 2
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    I think this buggar is not fit enough even to sweep the floors of .Civil Aviation. Teach him Ethics first

  • 3
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    I know Lushan from his school days. He served in the Air Force for over two decades. When Chinabay airfield was under attack in 1996 March he took off a Y-12 aircraft and saved a million dollar aircraft. He is a true war hero pilot. People listen to the conversation carefully,its all about this Sonal guy trying to hire employ him as a manager. This Sonal is an ex Mihin minor employee released from remand custody recently. Prasad a Tamil, I dont need to tell much. This company owns no aircraft. My friends please listen carefully before comment.

    • 1
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      Ray Dharma, this is a civil position, you need to bring the right balance and attitude because you are dealing with a composition of different stake holders, you need diplomacy , engagement, connection with the civil society , no matter how gutsy and brave you were , decorated with medals, Air force mentality and flying exposure is not relevant when you hold a Civil Position. Those flying hours are good in the battle field and credit towards a cavilling flying position, one should not carry that on your head when you work in the civil culture,
      You have to work within a corporate frame work, good Communication skills, administrative skills and respect is very important no matter which position you held in the Services,
      Don’t forget there was another ex highly decorated Retired Pilot from the Air force recently got caught at Katunayake immigration trying to smuggle a Revolver who had the same attitude according to some Retired Air force aviation batchmates of him.
      Remember there are so many Laws you need to follow once you leave the uniform’

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