26 October, 2020

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Sri Lankan Airlines: A Response To Phoenix Duty Free’s ‘Feeble’ Press Release

An employee of Phoenix Duty Free Services emailed a rather feeble press release that they had carried in one of the local Sunday Newspapers titled “Phoenix Responds To Media Reports on Sri Lankan Airlines Duty Free” recently.

Raju Chandiram

Raju Chandiram

What is rather shocking is that the contents in its entirety is one where Colombo Telegraph could refute each claim as with a copy of the contract in our possession and with concrete evidence in hand, it could be quite rightly stated that its former Chairman Tissa Dharmagunaratne who headed this operation at the inception, CEO Dilan Rumesh Wirasinghe and Managing Director Raju Chandiram are in a vain attempt in trying to cover their tracks in where the Board of Inquiries headed by Lawyer J.C.Weliamuna reported the fraudulent deal where innocent tax payers monies have now been stolen and still continue to.

Phoenix Duty Free Services goes on to say that in the first three years of its operation that Sri Lankan Airlines gained a net profit of Rs 1.1 billon. Nevertheless that figure should have been much higher as Phoenix fails to mention that as reported by Colombo Telegraph earlier, over USS $ 2.5 million was written off by the previous ‘Board of Directors’ of the airline as Phoenix cried foul that the Airline was duplicating its passenger figure count.

The writing off of this figure by the then Board of Directors, but more importantly amending the original contract after the first year’s operation resulted in a monumental figure of a minimum Rs 712 million which the airline lost that should have been added on to the profited figure of Rs 1.1 billion as claimed by Phoenix Duty Free Services.

The following story was described by one of Phoenix Duty Free Services’s very own current employees who revealed much more shocking details that should be information worthy for the new Board of Directors of the national carrier to further work on the ‘Weliamuna Report’ and investigating the expose further and scrapping this daily loss making deal immediately.

“Our Managing Director Raju Chandiram had it all covered from the beginning and least did he ever expect the government to change. We gave Sri Lankan Airlines an unbelievable contract that they could not refuse and in hindsight we were losing a considerable amount of money in our first year of operations in the five year mutually signed contract.

There was no hope in ever recovering from that initial year’s loss and even the Board of Directors felt something was initially fishy. But thanks to our MD Raju Chandiram’s contacts with Members of the Board of Directors, we were able to amend the signed contract between Phoenix Duty Free Services and the national carrier to suit us during the second year and have it back dated. Chandiram himself was a Director of the Board of Sri Lankan Airlines in 2008 when his good friend and current Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera was a Minister in the Government.
Susantha Ratnayake was the biggest fish in the board that needed to be tackled. Fortunately our boss Chandiram’s ex-wife Otara Gunawardena of Odel fame’s Brother Ajith Gunawardena is a Director where Ratnayake is the CEO of John Keels Private Limited. On the other hand Ratnayake and Colombo’s Maharajah Palace’s Restaurateur Romesh Amerasekara who is MD Chandiram’s best friend are married to sisters. So through those two connections Susantha Ratnayake was able to be convinced. Fortunately Sanath Ukwatte another Director of the Board was also a close ‘chum’ of MD Chandiram. With these two in our pockets it was very easy thereafter to get absolutely anything approved as the former Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe and former CEO Kapila Chandrasena was also ‘on the take’ even before the contract was signed” said the Phoenix Duty Free Services employee.

“This business is huge and we have currently ventured out into three airlines which is Sri Lankan Airlines, Mihin Lanka and Air India where on paper we are incurring huge losses in all three businesses. However this business of ‘Duty Free’ is where there are other ways of making money” continued the Phoenix Duty Free Services employee.

“Over in the western part of the world, many companies that produce alcohol always do have a surplus of stock and through inside contacts within these alcohol producing companies, stocks are purchased on behalf of airlines and sold in the black market. Of these three airlines we do business with it is quite normal to make around US $ 1 million net profit a month. Tobacco products also fit in similarly. We need to incur this loss with the airlines anyway if we are to make such profit overall” the shocking news was revealed by this Phoenix employee.

The press release also goes on to say gross sales percentages are paid as commissions to duty free sellers and the catering staff as well. However what Phoenix Duty Free Services fails to fathom is that these figures were part of what they offered initially to secure the contract with Sri Lankan Airlines.

Sri Lankan Airline’s staff who seem disgruntled over this duty free deal have also gone on to state that it is against the contractual agreement for Phoenix Duty Free Services to send our goods to a ware house in Singapore after purchases are made “We just don’t have any idea if an extra stock of Duty Free items is purchased on our ‘bar code’” complained a national carrier employee.

Providing hardware and software to complete duty free sales on board is now the norm in their airline industry even though Phoenix Duty Free Services goes on to state that that cost is borne by them.

A close friend of the Phoenix Duty Free Services MD said “after Chandiram’s divorce from his wife Otara Gunawardena a few years back, he was absolutely destitute and was naïve, gullible and could be easily influenced. With no cent in his pocket he appeared to have struck gold from somewhere. A brand new KIA Optima was purchased for Rs 6.4million and within a short span his fleet increased to two, with the purchase of a brand new Audi A6 and his investments of purchasing a considerable amount of shares from ‘ODEL’ under the Phoenix Duty Free Services name quickly took place. His investments in the restaurant Chain ‘Urban Kitchen’, ‘Kema Sutra’ and retail store ‘K’ Zone were unbelievable as he claims he is not salaried through Phoenix Duty Free Service and therefore does not pay any taxes.” concluded his buddy.

This information provided by Phoenix Duty Free’s employee and a close friend of his is itself sufficient grounds for the Inland Revenue to swoop in and investigate as to how and where Chandiram’s new found wealth did appear. Leave alone the national carrier scrapping this deal and attempt in recovering monies off Phoenix Duty Free Services or from the corrupt previous Board of Director officials.

But many quarters say that with his good old friend and Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera by his side, Phoenix Duty Free Services MD Raju Chandiram is untouchable for now or so it seems.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Good heavens, what is this world coming to?

    Whatever happened to that old adage, honour among thieves?

    • 3
      4

      Spring Koha

      “Whatever happened to that old adage, honour among thieves?”

      Raigamaya and Gampolaya, scaled up, a million fold, courtesy Mahinda Rajapaksa Palanaya.

      “What is rather shocking is that the contents in its entirety is one where Colombo Telegraph could refute each claim as with a copy of the contract in our possession and with concrete evidence in hand, it could be quite rightly stated that its former Chairman Tissa Dharmagunaratne who headed this operation at the inception, CEO Dilan Rumesh Wirasinghe and Managing Director Raju Chandiram are in a vain attempt in trying to cover their tracks in where the Board of Inquiries headed by Lawyer J.C.Weliamuna reported the fraudulent deal where innocent tax payers monies have now been stolen and still continue to.”

      Caught with their pants down. They say, the robber who went up a Kitul tree, had a story to tell: he went up to cut the grass.

      Liars, Crooks, Robbers and Criminals, all the way down from the top, the Former President Rajapaksa.

    • 3
      1

      Colombo’s so called “elite” thieves can give the Russian mafia a run for its’ money.

      Cheer!

      • 3
        0

        This is not the elite. This was always the scum

  • 9
    4

    Shocking that CT resort to such “Gossip” from a disgruntled EX EMPLOYEE [Edited out]

  • 2
    6

    JKH YOUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS STINK

    • 10
      2

      Could not find a better name for you “Modeya”. You chose the perfect one.

  • 1
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 10
    0

    In journalism “Truth Is A Process” if the correct facts are reported CT. This type of rubbish should not be published without a check on the author.[Edited out]

  • 9
    0

    Utter rubbish from CT after giving valuable articles when fighting MARA Regime. please check the facts given the integrity of the …….. Please do not lose credibility by publishing slanderous articles. Why mud slinging against certain individuals. I wish if CT can reach out phoenix i hope you are having journalist to do that and publish their side of the story as well. If you are not willing readers can come to the conclusion that CT is nothing but rubbish.

  • 9
    0

    If author can defame without any evidence but CT hell bent on saving crooked author even the facts we have given truth Dear Colombo Telegraph editorial team i am asking a simple question from you. What is the difference between you and MR. I sincerely believe both MR and you are very good at safeguarding proven crooks. Can you publish this one or is it same that come out as edited out

  • 2
    1

    [Edited out]

  • 2
    1

    all these information and write up provided by [Edited out]

  • 2
    1

    [Edited out]

  • 5
    2

    I can see your journalism. Thank you.

  • 1
    7

    The HHC does not lie. The information is always correct. I am a crew member and I know for a fact that our airline has got played out big time firstly by our very own trusted board of directors and the former director. The airline has no leg to stand on when those responsible to safe guard the well being of the airline get lured into these murky deals. We work 24/7 to give our passengers the most unforgettable experience but sadly all our hard work is to no avail. At this rate I may not have a job tomorrow in spite of all my hard work. To those that handle the reins probably it does not matter cos’ the seams of their pockets are about to burst. No offence to anyone but this is just the truth.

    • 7
      0

      “we work 24/7” my foot. You sound like a newly appointed boss HHC !!!

  • 2
    7

    Looks like the Kalu-suddas in the John Keells board have been havingfun with Sri Lankan monies.

    I am very curious if Finance Minister Ravi K will venture to audit the Duty Free purchases made by Phoenix on behalf of Sri Lankan airlines. Based on this report, pilfering of those stocks is the business model Phoenix uses to boost its bottom-line.

    With Ravi K’s history with fraudsters, it is a very unlikely outcome unless Ranil wakes up from his slumber.

    • 1
      0

      Upul, we have no Kalu Suddhas @JKH. We have Suddhas or full blooded sinhalayas. People from JKH ,does not have to help the likes of Chandirams or Wickramasinhas to get. Rich. Our Sinhalaya has never taken any money or free. Tickets/ cargo etc from Sri Lankan . You can confirm this with him.
      I will bet my last pair of boots ,that he would have never, taken even a ticket paid for by the government, even if he was traveling for government work. I do not blame you for thinking otherwise . Please remember among these Greedy vultures you do get uncorruptible people.

  • 0
    2

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0
    2

    The comments by probably the same person in anonymity reveals that it may be a better idea for the guilty to defend themselves rather than crucify the messenger. Frequently traveler ought to be less frequent with his persuasion but rather shift his stance and take another approach before Phoenix stops his payment.

  • 0
    3

    Star Truth, M and Frequent Traveler, if you are the same person hiding under the same guise it clearly shows a bottle of duty free whisky is all it takes for you to yap on behalf of the guilty. Save your trouble and defend the one you pays you rather than make a noise and defend the content of the story.You sound guilty my friend and good luck to you or for that matter three of you.

  • 0
    1

    [Edited out]

  • 1
    1

    This is easily the biggest mistake I made in my 35+ career. I have no one to blame.

  • 0
    0

    He was my best friend until I lost out on his friendship, or rather his luck was so and he lost out on mine. Wonder how much he makes now per ship?

  • 0
    0

    This news by CT confirms the reason as to why are payments get delayed. Probably have to re-think credit terms.

  • 2
    1

    Hi Star Dust, Staff Discount ,Handheld Computer and Origin to destination,

    I can see your desperation. After posting this article I know you cannot sleep. Trying very hard to denying the truth. Let you come forward and hand your evidence and facts in front of CT editorial team. Let Phoenix also do the same. Truth will prevails. This is the best and Yahapalana way rather than writing unsubstantiated mud slinging articles and putting the integrity of the Colombo Telegraph at peril. You are the curse for Colombo Telegraph and Journalism as well.

  • 1
    3

    ….Whatever said & Done….Raju Chandiram….is a Nice Guy….!! However….any probe into this matter…..with mangala…..his good friend….& sanath ukwatte…..( who were both Directors of Air Lanka ) when Chandrika was in Power & Mangala was an all too powerful Acolyte…….!!! nothing’s gonna happen to him….!! but thats ok….he’s a good guy…as is sanath ukwatthe…..( but married to a 3rd rate goldigger family….who couldnt even pay their bar bills,….!!! & vanished to he the toilet….whenst bills were presented….!!!
    THATS SRI LANKA….FOR YOU…!!!!

  • 0
    1

    Imi Mo. Yes you are right. Raju is a nice guy and even nicer to the fairer damsels. Ms. Odel will vouch for that. But so is Susantha who is also supposed to be a nice guy. Being a nice guy is one and performing business and work related dealings is something different all together. I would also not mind being the nice guy who would is permitted to loot all all sundry and still continues to be portrayed with a halo above my head. Wont we all for that matter eh Imi Mo? personally I know the man and story fits the bill. Hats off to Colombo Telegraph for the brilliant exposes they continue to do. Sorry to disappoint you Imi Mo.

  • 3
    0

    I am sure most of these facts are correct. Humpy Dumpty says , Raju and Susantha are nice guys. All nice guys are not alike. From what I have heard, the duty free deal was done long before Ratnayake was put in to that board. You can be friends with ,nice guys and not so nice guys , does not mean you have to do deals with them? Ratnayake , from what I have heard( needs clarification) has never taken any benefits from the airline. He and his wife must have many friends, and acquaintances ,does this mean that ,he has to support all the dirty deals they do.?

    Could it be that Wickramasinghe and Chandiram did this deal? Who got gold Wrist watches? You can not take the crew very seriously. What would they know about these crooked deals? So get your source to check the facts again

  • 0
    0

    Now they cannot find any wrong doings in Duty free Deal and as it established that Sri Lankan Airlines benefited more than imagined and now these crooked people who are in disguise to making attempts to take over duty free deal who have lost out Phoenisx in 2011 tender, goes after the personal life of individuals. Dont you have shame to meddle and publish some ones personal life in the web media. Guys keep the discussion with figures and facts to the deal rather resorting to personal facts

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