Written by Staff Writer
02 Feb, 2020 | 8:24 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st):- President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered a comprehensive investigation into reports of allegations over financial irregularities said to have committed during the deal between SriLankan Airlines and Airbus SE for the purchase of aircraft. News 1st reported on the matter where a straw company registered in Brunei, owned by the wife of an executive of SriLankan Airlines, were offered bribes in millions of dollars. The details pertaining to the transaction have been revealed in a report submitted to the court by UK’s Serious Fraud Office.
The lady agent had dealt with Airbus where six A330 flights, four A350 flights, and four flights on lease basis were ordered in a controversial deal in 2013. Airbus Aviation group had offered a USD 16.84 million bribe to the ‘straw company’ set up in Brunei, and at least two million dollars were paid.
In the context of the investigations by the French Parquet National Financier (PNF), the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the U.S. authorities, Airbus has reached an agreement in principle with the authorities. However, the previous UNP government cancelled the purchase of the four A350 aircraft.
As a result, SriLankan Airlines had to pay a cancellation fee exceeding USD 98 million which is a value that is approximately Rs.14 billion. While the bribe offered to the straw company owned by the wife of an executive of SriLankan Airlines was around Rs. 300 million, the cancellation fee that the country had to pay was over Rs.14 billion. While there is proof that bribes had been provided to a third party company regarding this transaction, the country has paid large amounts as cancellation fees as well.
It is against this background that the President has ordered a comprehensive probe into these transactions. SriLankan Airlines had also issued a statement in this regard.
It read, SriLankan Airlines Limited has become aware of a judgment in the United Kingdom related to a charge of corruption in the purchase/ lease of Aircraft between the period 2011- 2015 June. It said the Chairman with the concurrence of the Board has directed the management to cooperate fully with any governmental agency in the event of any investigation/prosecution. It added, the management has also been directed to preserve and study all available internal documentation with a view to take all possible corrective future action.
Speaking on the airbus scam matter, JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said;
“Mahinda Rajapaksa signed a deal with a French Company to purchase 10 airbus aircrafts and to lease 4 airbus aircrafts, in 2013 in Paris. This deal included 1 VVIP aircraft. That aircraft included a room, and showers. We pointed out that there is a massive scam happening here. Afterwards in 2018 they cancelled the agreement. They stole from this when the deal was struck and they stole from it when the deal was cancelled. Charitha Ratwatte cancelled the deal. He had appointed his brother to SriLankan Airlines and his brother had sent him an SMS asking what should be done about this. Charitha Ratwatte sent an SMS to his brother saying do it. They robbed when making the deal as well as when cancelling the deal. But many accepted that there was an irregularity when the deal was canceled and did not accept that it was the case when the deal was struck. What has happened now? Although this was not revealed in a Sri Lankan Court, it has been revealed at a court in England.”
He went onto say;
“A case on the corruption surrounding the purchase of these airbuses is ongoing at the High Court of England. Details about our country are being revealed at a court in England. In 2013 the Chief Executive officer, Chandrasena had asked for a commission of USD 16 million, which is Rs. 3 billion. Rs 360 million of this commission had been transfered to a company in Brunei. This company has been registered under the name of the wife of the former Chairman of SriLankan Airlines. This is the reason why SriLankan is an institution suffering losses in billions today. When it comes to the bond scam, both of these parties are involved in it. Even in the Airbus deal, the first group stole when entering into the agreement, and the second group stole when they canceled the agreement. This is the money of the people. They are asking for a 2/3rds majority to be extremely powerful and extremely corrupt.”
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