A bigwig is alleged to be involved in a massive financial fraud during the term of President Mahinda Rajapaksa with a recent investigation revealing that someone of authority has misappropriated US$ 400,000 annually in an aircraft lease deal in connection to SriLankan airlines.
The investigation has further revealed that the sum of US $400,000 was ‘pocketed’ for several years. The disclosure comes amidst reports that the government was also in discussion with Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to lease a SriLankan airlines aircraft to PIA in an effort to help generate income for the national career due to it’s massive debt.
State Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim disclosed that under the previous management several aircrafts were leased for a cost of US $ 1.4 million annually, even though they could have been leased for US $ 1 million. “So we wonder who has pocketed the money and why an additional US$ 400,000 was paid when it was possible to get it for lesser,” Hashim said.
Meanwhile, in an effort to streamline the airline further the national carrier has also decided to suspend several European flights. The government is still hunting for a foreign airline to partner with, which will take over and manage the country’s debt ridden national carrier.
In April, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that the government had decided to absorb the SriLankan Airlines debts amounting to a staggering US$ 3.2 billion, in a last ditch attempt to ‘save’ the carrier.
SriLankan which recorded a profit of Rs. 4.4 billion in 2008, took an appalling nosedive having suffered a whopping loss amounting to Rs. 107 billion, when the airline’s administration was under Nishantha Wickramasinghe, the brother-in-law of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.