Colombo Telegraph

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

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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