19 September, 2019

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Sri Lankan Airlines: Weliamuna Inquiry Costs Rs 3.5 Million

The first government-commissioned inquiry into the previous government’s corruption and malpractices has cost taxpayers Rs 3.5 million, Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.

J. C. Weliamuna

J. C. Weliamuna

The investigation ordered by Arjuna Ranatunga, the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Civil Aviation and carried out by former head of the Transparency International (Sri Lanka chapter) J. C. Weliamuna into Sri Lankan Airlines.

The anti-corruption and good governance activist and Lawyer J.C. Weliamuna speaking to Colombo Telegraph confirmed that he along with his team comprising of senior lawyers U.H. Palihakkara, B.A.W. Abeywardane and M.K.Bandara were paid Rs 3.5 million including all costs for the six week long investigation and the work carried out on the country’s national carrier.

Colombo Telegraph did request for a breakdown from Lawyer Weliamuna yesterday but he was not in a position to do so. A subsequent email was sent to him seeking this information. Weliamuna is yet to answer.

“There ought to be transparency on both the framework set for the inquiry and the basis for charging – the danger is this ends with those involved profiteering without [the public gaining] adequate benefits”, a Finance Ministry official told Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity.

The six week long inquiry which commenced on the 18th of February was carried out to investigate the abuses of power by the Senior Management, irregularities into the procurement and /or leasing of aircraft, the procurement of goods and services and external interferences adversely affecting the smooth functioning of the national airline.

On the 8th of March 2015, the Board of Inquiry (BOI) submitted their initial findings to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe advising the suspension of Chief Operations Officer (CEO) Kapila Chandrasena until the inquiry was over. However the following day the 9th of March 2015 CEO Chandrasena tendered his resignation. The former Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe tendered his resignation before the BOI commenced their investigations.

The final ‘Weliamuna Report’ which consisted of 136 pages and broken down into eleven chapters also included the names of 80 informants who openly came forward. It is noted that there were many other employees of the airline who also came forward but did not wish to be named.

The final ‘Weliamuna Report’ report was submitted to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the 31st March 2015 and recommended criminal investigations into the entire re-fleeting process and had noted instances where former chairman Wickramasinghe, a brother-in-law of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and airlines’ CEO, Kapila Chandrasena, should be prosecuted.

Besides the resignation of the CEO mid way during the investigation not a single other employee identified as a perpetrator in the report have been either suspended or terminated.

A group of employees of the national carrier complained to Colombo Telegraph that they now fear personal bodily harm and also feel their jobs are been threatened for their boldness in speaking up to the BOI.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    0

    This follows my previous email on the the subject of the “Weliamuna Report”

    Please take note that the report on the findings was made by a team of 3 lawyers
    ie; Messrs. Weliamuna, Abeywardena and Bandara which also included assistants such clerical and other assistants to record the statements directly on computers and voice and video recorders, local and overseas phone calls and other general expenses involved in an investigation of this nature.

    I feel that the fee paid for this report is KOS ATTA or PEANUTS and the report
    is more a less FREE OF CHARGE as service to the nation.

  • 10
    0

    Well worth it and reasonable.

    The lowest salary to a pilot is Rs 1 mn per month and a stewardess gets Rs 0.5 mn per month with allowances.

    All deputy chairmen and 20 of them in total at Ceylinco got about Rs 5 mn per month from depositors money 5 years ago.

    Most bank AGMs get close to Rs 1 mn per month.

    Rs 3.5 mn is very reasonable for the report for 5 professionals.

    Please don’t compare govt salaries with private sector salaries.

  • 2
    5

    A colossal waste of public funds!
    After all the outcome of his whole exercise is to recommend criminal investigation into entire affairs and washed his hands off from the findings. Any layman could have reached the same conclusion on the face of the matters.

  • 0
    0

    Dinesh…. Was it Waldorf Hotel NY ?
    NOW IT IS OWNED BY THE CHINESE……… ha…ha..

  • 2
    0

    One cannot eat the cake and have the cake! Either you Bury the malpractices of the Rajapaksa s or find the truth. Don’t blame a team of lawyers and investigators, and venue and other expenses for 3.5 million compared to the billions played out by RRRR RRRR
    HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK A COURTESY PROCEDURE WOULD COST? No one adds up the costs

  • 0
    2

    Why not Auditor General was not entrusted with this task to make things reasonable.

  • 0
    2

    Why not Auditor General was entrusted with this task to make things reasonable.

  • 2
    0

    The fee is not relevant after exposing the rogues which is the most valuable information we found. They are still having a gala time in the company. Action on that that’s the need of the hour

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]Amuna report is just a election gundu to impress voters. This report is more a target practice carried out by [Edited out]Amuna. In doing so he attacked only poor employees and not the board. Why, [Edited out] Amuna knows what kind of legal battle he have to face if he touched former directors. Because of this reason he deliberately NEVER MENTIONED names of the directors whom were responsible for taking decisions and poor employees carried the decisions. On the other hand integrity of [Edited out]Amuna is exposed he is not[Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    So now Weliamuna or any one has to do things for this goverment for free.

  • 1
    0

    Much ado is being made about nothing.These are three professionals who had unearthed lot of material witi n the short period of 6 weeks and the payment is very reasonable . Compared to the large amounts paid t the foreign experts associated with the Disappearance Commission this payment of 3.5 million rupees is very reasonable. Welliammunne and his team must be commended for bringing out an excellent report within the short time instead of finding fault with them for accepting the fees due to them as Professionals

  • 0
    0

    I hold Mr. Weliamuna in my highest esteem, especially because he took such risks for the common good of us all during the Rajapakse era. He is a brave man. There is no question.

    It is unfortunate that Mr. Weliamuna charged so much for the inquiries; inquiries he effectively demanded as the head of Transparency International. When principles bring in money, that undermines the very principles one is advancing. I am sure the government felt his charges were fair payment as many have argued in Colombo Telegraph. But accepting that payment undermined the principles for which Mr. Weliamuna so selflessly risked his life. He should have either waived his fees or, if devoting time to the inquiry would have diminished his income by being away from his usual caseload in court, he should have given someone else the chance to lead the inquiry. If indeed it is true that what he was paid is the rate of pay for his normal work, then good sense should have told him to continue with his normal work. This tiny mistake has unfortunately made people question the integrity of a great man.

    As advice to Mr. Weliamuna, I say this as a friend: “You are no ordinary man. Extraordinary men are not allowed to do that which ordinary men may. Remember. While it was lawful for any citizen to rub shoulders with former President Rajapakse when he was president, recall the angry reaction from the public when the Cardinal and the Chief Justice did that. The principle is that great men, even when they do nothing wrong, must not give grounds for suspicious speculation because that undermines the institutions for which they are the pubic face. You Mr. Weliamuna represent Transparency International and not just yourself.”

  • 0
    1

    Mr,Weliamuna has done a good job within a short time. What is wrong paying the fee for the entire team of investigators. It is not an issue. Now authorities should act on the recommendations of Mr Weliamuna’s report without listening to this low gossips!

  • 1
    0

    But political will translated into political decisions cannot be justified along with partisan politicking. Politicking rubs the whole issue the wrong side up and devalues the political will and its action. Most investigations taking place don’t seem to prove such political will is being turned into impartial inquiry. Weliamuna investigation is one such bad instance. Apart from transparency and accountability issues raised by Colombo Telegraph (CT) and Amrit Muttukumaru, the very appointment of J. C. Weliamuna for investigations on SriLankan airlines smacked of “green” politics. For over three years, Weliamuna was a prominent campaigner against the Rajapaksa regime on “Platform for Freedom” with then Leader of Opposition and UNP leader Wickremesinghe and other UNP stalwarts. He was also a very conspicuous presence in most other UNP led protests. He is quite openly, “UNP in politics”. And from what Chandra Jayaratne had responded to CT on Weliamuna investigations the implied truth is, that investigation lacked expertise to handle the responsibility given. Therefore he volunteered with his expertise. It’s another aberration, for these high profile investigations are not mandated to have volunteers in the panel of investigators. If Weliamuna investigation lacked expertise, Jayaratne’s volunteerism should have been made public. Political colour and incompetency together with undisclosed volunteer investigators violates social trust, a supreme necessity in today’s political context of many uncertainties.

    Kusal Perera

    read more;
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/political-necessity-used-for-politicking-negates-independent-commissions/

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