The scandalous stewardess of SriLankan Airlines, Nithya Senanaya Samaranayaka who was released from the airline to carry out various duties for Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa has been remanded till August 22 by the Colombo Additional Magistrate over money laundering charges amounting to Rs. 45 million in connection to the HelloCorp case. Even though she is also involved in a financial scam at the airline, she has only been formally charged over the money laundering case.
She was arrested and then subsequently remanded for her alleged role in aiding and abetting to commit an offence in her capacity as a Director of NR Consultations and Gowers Corporation, which are all owned by MP Namal Rajapaksa. Both, Namal Rajapaksa and Sudarsha Ganewatta are currently in remand custody over allegations of money laundering in the HelloCorp case.
Last year, the JC Weliamuna led Board of Inquiry in a report on corruption at SriLankan Airlines revealed that Samaranayake had been released from her work at the airline at the request of the then Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga. Samaranayake was released to carry out Namal Rajapaksa’s political work, and she was paid approximately Rs. 158,000 a month by both the airline and the Presidential Secretariat.
During the inquiry by Weliamuna and the team, Samaranayake had said that there was no special project to which she was attached to whilst she was working for Rajapaksa. She had also said that she couldn’t describe an exact location where she was working for Namal Rajapaksa, the eldest son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The report also highlighted that she had been overpaid more than Rs. 4.2 million although there was no proper explanation as to what sort of services she provided. The Weliamuna report recommended that Sri Lankan airlines take action to recover the overpaid money from Samaranayake.
In an interview with Hiru TV’s Salakuna programme in May 2016, Namal Rajapaksa claimed that no special treatment was meted out to Samaranayake. “I have seen her around, I have spoken to her at the Presidential Secretariat, but there was nothing beyond that. No special remuneration was given to her as far as I know,” he told the television channel. He added that he never had even an office at the Presidential Secretariat, and Samaranayake was employed by the Presidential Secretariat directly and he had nothing to do with her.