Massive corruption and fraud at SriLankan Airlines under the administrations of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe are not limited to the Rs 362mn (USD2mn) accepted by former CEO of SriLankan Airlines, Kapila Chandrasena and his wife, now arrested on orders of the Attorney General following exposure in a court case in the United Kingdom.
Though former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe argued in Parliament this week that his Government had not got the needed documentation to enable steps to be taken in law to arrest the fraudsters responsible, Colombo Telegraph finds that this is not correct as much of the needed information had been made available through the Commission of Inquiry appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena to look into the maladministration of SriLankan Airlines and also through extensive documentation released following an Order of the Right to Information Commission against Sri Lankan Airlines.
Representatives of the Pilots Guild, speaking to Colombo Telegraph, clarified that SriLankan Airlines had been ordered by the Right to Information Commission to release copies of the lease agreements, termination agreements with Airbus and minutes of Board Meetings relating to discussions of the Airbus deal. This was after the management of the airlines under former CEO Suren Ratwatte refused to give the details when the Airline Pilots Guild had filed an RTI application.
Even though the information was released as far back as June 2018, the Sri Lankan public is only now getting to know the specific details of the information releases following renewed interest after the arrests of Chandrasena and his wife. The minutes released disclosed the seeking of Cabinet approval for the Airbus deal at several meetings, including one held at former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa’s residence with his son, Shameendra Rajapaksa also attending. Other members of the SriLankan Director Board who attended the meeting at the former Speaker’s residence was Mr Nihal Jayamanne, President’s Counsel, Nishantha Wickremesinghe, Chairman, Kapila Chandrasena, CEO and Ms Lakshmi Sangakkara.
Enormous losses were incurred by SriLankan Airlines in cancelling the lease agreement with Airbus in an ongoing series of several fraudulent transactions in which the Rajapaksa and Wickremsinghe regimes were equally responsible. The exact sum of money lost to the State is still not exactly calculated and its amount goes far beyond the USD2mn exposed as a result of aircraft manufacturer Airbus coming to 3.6 Billion Euro settlement with US, UK and French authorities following a 4 year investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption in which SriLankan Airlines featured prominently.
The question is if prosecutions will be proceeded with by the Attorney General in respect of all those fraudulent transactions without limiting himself to former CEO Chandrasena and his wife?