Written by Staff Writer
01 Feb, 2020 | 9:02 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st):- A report by UK’s Serious Fraud Office reveals another financial misappropriation that took place during a transaction between the SriLankan Airlines and Airbus. Agreements were reached to purchase six A330 aircraft and 4 A350 aircraft and to lease an additional four aircrafts, in June 2013.
The report compiled by the Serious Fraud Office reveals that a straw company registered in Brunei, owned by the wife of an executive of SriLankan Airlines, has acted as an intermediary in these transactions. Pursuant to the engagement, Airbus employees have offered up to US$16.84 million to the company of the person in question, to influence SriLankan Airlines to purchase 10 Airbus aircraft and the lease of an additional four aircrafts.
On the 30th of October 2015, Airbus has also signed a market share agreement, which stipulated that the intermediary company registered in Brunei, would receive a US$5 million lump sum if SriLankan Airlines did not purchase any competitor aircraft. The report added that to disguise the identity of the woman in question, Airbus employees have misled the UK Export Finance as to her name and gender. US$2 million of the US$16.84 million was already paid to the company owned by the woman.
UK’s Serious Fraud Office says that the spouse of the SriLankan Airlines Executive level officer had no aerospace expertise and had no experience or personnel working in the airline sales industry. Meanwhile, during the United National Party-led government, they cancelled an agreement to purchase A350 aircraft, while agreeing to pay a fine of USD 154 million. It was later agreed to reduce the sum to USD 98 million, as certain conditions were met. However, SriLankan Airlines paid a large sum of money to intermediaries before purchasing aircraft, and to Airbus, after cancelling the agreement.
Speaking to News 1st on the fraud, Executive Director of the Transparency International Sri Lanka, Asoka Obeyesekere said;
“It is widely reported SriLankan Airlines gets Rs. 17bn which is a $116 mn in cancellation penalty. TISL flagged up this concern with the presidential commission for looking into irregularities of SriLankan Airlines and we reiterate that it is essential that those domestic and foreign are held accountable and compensate for losses cause to the Sri Lankan public.”
The report was released by UK’s Serious Fraud Office, following a 4-year investigation into Airbus, over allegations of external consultants used by the company and paid bribes in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Ghana between 2011 and 2015. Judges have approved a record $3.9 billion settlement to be paid by the French aircraft manufacturer Airbus over allegations of bribery. A judge in London approved a deferred prosecution agreement struck between the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and Airbus.
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