Written by Zulfick Farzan
01 Aug, 2018 | 9:16 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – The tenure of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCOI) appointed to investigate irregularities at SriLankan Airlines, Mihin Lanka & SriLankan catering was extended by five months.
A serious anomaly in the registration of shares purchased from Emirates was exposed at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday (August 1st). In 2006 the Government of Sri Lanka owned 51.05% of the shares of SriLankan Airlines, while Emirates-owned 43.63% and others owned 5.32%.
However, in 2010 an understanding had been reached to sell the 43.63% shares of Emirates to the Government of Sri Lanka. This is evident in a letter addressed to Former Secretary of Finance Dr. P.B. Jayasundara from the Chairman of Emirates Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
At the time the Government Valuation Department had determined that the Government-owned shares were valued at 450 Million US Dollars. It was said today that Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Minister of Finance had produced a memorandum to the Cabinet on the 1st of June 2010 and it notes that approval was granted to Bank of Ceylon (BOC) to explore the possibility in purchasing the Emirates shares for 53 Million US Dollars.
According to the documents, on the 20th of June 2010 – 22,451,516 shares owned by Emirates were transferred to BOC for 53 Million US Dollars. What is surprising is that as of 30th August 2010 when SriLankan registered the shares, BOC had 12,115,517 shares, People’s Bank 4,236,135 shares, National Savings Bank 4,236,135 shares, and the EPF had 1,863,676 shares.
However, there is no Cabinet Paper available to say that the Treasury approved the other state institutions to purchase the Emirates shares, despite the fact that the Cabinet only approved Bank of Ceylon to purchase the shares.
Titus Kannangara the Senior Manager Security and Investigations at SriLankan Airlines Ltd. testifying today said it took the national carrier almost two and a half years to install an X-Ray scanning system at the Katunayake Airport.
He said the original tender was canceled in 2014 citing an alleged security threat from the LTTE and the three X-Ray devices were only installed at the airport in 2016 & 2017. The airline had entered into individual 07-year service agreements with the supplier for Explosive Trace Detectors (ETD) and all of them were signed on the 31st of August 2016 by Major General ( Rtd.) P. Chandrawansa, the Head of Group Security.
The ETDs were installed at the airport on the 15th of August 2016, two weeks before the service agreement was even signed. What should be noted is that the contract review form, which is a document signed by other user departments vetting the procurement, had been signed on the 18th of May 2016.
The issue highlighted by the Attorney Generals Department is that the user departments had approved the procurement even before the ETDs were shipped to Sri Lanka.
Titus Kannangara also confirmed that the HR Department at SriLankan Airlines requested him to release on 07 security personnel attached to the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya, who were on duty, for election campaigning in Pelmadulla on the 27th of December 2014, for the political party that was in power at the time.
The Collective bargaining agreement between the trade union and SriLankan Airlines clearly notes personnel cannot be released for any political activity.
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