Colombo Telegraph

SriLankan Ex-CEO Kapila Chandrasena And Wife Neomali To Be Arrested Over Rs 17 Billion Airbus Deal

Rajapaksa era former SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer Kapila Chandrasena and his wife are to be arrested shortly over charges of money laundering in a corrupt deal that cost the national carrier upwards of in excess of 17 billion rupees (USD 116 million).

Kapila Chandrasena

The Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) submitting B Report bearing No 14363/19 to Fort Magistrate into the inquiry over procuring a fleet for SriLankan Airlines stated that there is reasonable suspicions for the existence of adequate evidence to name Kapila Chandrasena and his wife Priyanka Neomali Wijenayake as suspects  and to report to Magistrate Court and obtain a warrant for arrest under the provisions of the Code Of Criminal Procedure Act (No. 15 of 1979) in order to record statements and produce the suspects before Court.

In addition the CID informed Court that two suspects had conspired with some other individuals and companies hitherto unknown to the prosecution.

The CID also informed Court that Singapore’s Central Authority (I.e. Attorney General’s Chambers) has replied with a set of documents on 5th November 2019 subsequent to a request made by the Ministry of Justice under Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act No. 25 of 2002. 

The request was made to obtain information into three accounts maintained at the Standard Chartered Bank by a company by the name and style of Biz Solutions. 

Accordingly it is revealed that:- 

  • A sum of USD 2 million has been paid as bribery to an account bearing No 0107130602 under the name of Priyanka Neomali Wijenayake the wife of SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena by EADS HQ/ SSC France (i.e. European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V.)  the parent company of Airbus SAS. 
  • The money was accepted by Priyanka Neomali Wijenayake who possessed  an account under the entity – Biz Solutions bearing No 0107130602 maintained at the Standard Chartered Bank of Singapore. 
  • Thereafter by remitting money into an account of her husband Kapila Chandrasena bearing no 06323610119179 maintained at the Commonwealth Bank in Australia Priyanka Neomali Wijenayake had committed the offence of money laundering
  • This offence of money laundering was committed by Kapila Chandrasena  and that his wife Priyanka Neomali Wijenayake aided and abated the committing of this offence.  

The CID is also informed the Director General of the CIABOC (Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption) for necessary action. 

Last Saturday the Colombo Telegraph reported that as aircraft manufacturer Airbus reached a record 3.6 Billion Euro settlement with US, UK and French authorities following a 4 year investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption, Transparency International Sri Lanka wishes to highlight the importance of paying compensation to the countries who are the victims of corrupt deals involving Airbus.

The statement of facts issued on 31 January 2020 as part of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement reached between Airbus and the prosecuting authorities, indicates that Airbus had agreed to pay out a sum of 16.84 Million US dollars (Rs. 2.5 bn [2015]) to influence the aircraft purchase, to a company registered in Brunei under the wife of an executive at SriLankan Airlines. Furthermore, the statement reads that Airbus had paid out a sum of 2 Million US dollars of the agreed amount to the company.

On 4 April, 2015, the Colombo Telegraph reported that a Board of Inquiry has found shocking details of corruption running into billions of dollars, manipulations of service contracting, recruitment of unqualified staff and major security breaches at Sri Lankan airlines under the former government. The panel headed by anti-corruption advocate and senior lawyer J. C. Weliamuna found instances of gross abuse of power by former Sri Lankan Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe, who was the brother in law of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose penchant for young air hostesses cost the debt-ridden airline even more problems.

The Board of Inquiry (BOI) found evidence of Wickramasinghe and then Sri Lankan CEO, Kapila Chandrasena falsifying documents to lease a luxury sports utility vehicle for the use of Wickramasinghe. This was in addition to a luxury Mercedes Benz vehicle and a Prado super luxury vehicle.  The BOI has found CEO Chandrasena unsuitable for the job and was surprised to discover that he was paid a minimum monthly salary of 1.5 million rupees on top of other perks and he had also enjoyed salaries simultaneously from his other appointments. There had been a time when he drew a salary as Mobitel CEO as well as Mihin Lanka CEO. 

The BOI recommends criminal prosecutions of Chandrasena as well as Wickramasinghe, among other senior management staff, but was never carried out by the administration of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. 

On October 10, 2015, it was reported that Ranil Wickremesinghe’s appointee and confidante  SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ajith Dias has condemned the ‘Weliamuna Report’ saying there was no financial misappropriations found as stated in the final findings made against the former Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe, CEO Kapila Chandrasena and thirteen others as those who were accused of corruption and malpractices that caused the national carrier to plunge to a monumental loss of over Rupees 120 billion during the Rajapaksa regime. (By Sandeepa Perera)


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