Airbus scam : Are investigations being conducted transparently?

Airbus scam : Are investigations being conducted transparently?

Written by Staff Writer

23 Feb, 2020 | 10:00 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st):- While details pertaining to the Airbus scandal have begun to surface, various comments are also being made with regard to the investigations of the case.

Are these investigations transparent and independent?

State Minister of Information and Communication Technology Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena today confirms that the investigations are taking place in a transparent manner.

He said:

“A transparent investigation can be carried out into the Airbus deal. The government is conducting a probe and will not make interventions concerning the suspects who are found guilty. Now it is visible that we are conducting these investigations. We will not exert influence on the Police or other institutions. We will not engage in unlawful communication from Temple Trees. These investigations have transparency in them. Accordingly, the innocent and the guilty will be identified in the future. The government will act according to that.”

However, MP Namal Rajapaksa had this to say regarding the investigations:

“An investigation must be carried out into this. I saw media reports stating that my name had surfaced during judicial proceedings. I will obtain legal advice on the reasons as to why my name had come up. I feel that the real culprits are trying to hide from the crime by blaming the Rajapaksa’s for it. We wish to ask the CID and the Police to conduct an investigation into this. Instead of falsely blaming anyone like they blamed Namal for all the hotels, helicopters and the Lamborghinis owned before 2015, a transparent investigation must be carried out into this case. Definite conclusions must be arrived through these investigations.”

He further said:

“If anyone is trying to blame Namal Rajapaksa to achieve their political ambitions and to realize the aims of certain political parties, I feel that it is unfair and that it is an attempt to sweep the investigations under the carpet. Therefore, I wish to request the officials to conduct a transparent investigation and to act in a manner that would safeguard their dignity instead of concealing the true suspects and shifting the blame onto someone else.”

JVP MP, Sunil Handunnetti also speaking on the matter said:

“An agreement becomes valid only once if it attested by a lawyer. This agreement has not been attested by Sri Lanka’s Attorney General. The cabinet has not approved this. The Board of Directors convene a meeting at the Speaker’s residence and makes a decision which is equal in magnitude to selling the country. It was not to allocate a private property. When it is was revealed in Parliament as to why an agreement was signed to purchase aircraft hurriedly within a month, it was said that it was not the United National Party. In 2018, based on the Auditor General’s report comprising 768 pages I revealed that this was a fake document. The UNP acted carelessly because they knew the loopholes in this agreement. They signed an agreement to cancel the purchase of the aircraft. What did Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government do? They signed the purchase agreement. What did Ranil’s government do? They signed the cancellation agreement. Finally, aircraft were not purchased. The compensation paid to cancel the deal alone was US$ 115.7 million.”

Leader of the National People’s Power, Anura Kumara Dissanayaka says;

“Sunil Handunnetti issued a directive in COPE to investigate previous deals as well. Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Finance Minister at that time. The Governor of the Central Bank was Ajith Nivaad Cabraal. The Chief Executive Officer at the company owned by Arjun Aloysius was Cabraal’s sister. Cabraal’s brother-in-laws were in three other financial companies. There we have Ranil, Mahendran, and Aloysius. The son-in-law of Ranil’s friend Arjuna Mahendran is Aloysius. Here we have Mahinda’s friend Cabraal’s sister who is the CEO of Perpetual Treasuries Limited. The total loss is Rs. 10.4 million. Out of this, Rs. 1.9 million belong to the Employees Provident Fund. This is what they have done. Can these individuals who loot public resources build the country? They cannot do so. Tell us who were the individuals behind the Airbus scandal and the Bond Scam.”

Meanwhile, a journalist questioned the State Minister of Social Security, Tharaka Balasuriya on the current matter.

Journalist – What is the situation of the investigations into the Airbus deal?

State Minister– A transparent investigation is being carried out into this case. We hope to punish the perpetrators of this crime.

Journalist – When this government came into power, they said they would bring the perpetrators of the previous cases before the law. Why hasn’t it happened?

State Minister– We do not hope to set-up new courts and police units. We do not hope to punish our political rivals by bringing new laws and imprisoning them. What did they say when Ranjan Ramanayake was remanded? They said it was political revenge. However, it has now been proven that it is not the case. Therefore, this has to be done with transparency. Otherwise, we will be accused of committing acts of political revenge if our rivals are imprisoned.

Convenor of the Left Centre, Chameera Perera also commented on the matter:

“Now according to Nimal Perera’s statement, this money has been debited to other accounts. To who’s accounts was this money debited? Who shared this money? Recently his birthday celebrations were held publicly, his closest friends attended the party. Among the guests was Namal Rajapaksa. There is serious suspicion as to if these people are involved in this Airbus deal. The court must decide on who is guilty and who is not. Today they are washing their hands in front of the media. We saw that it was in this same system where the serial number of weapons had got erased after being rubbed against each other. The people who were accused of doing these things are now coming and providing advice on how to shape the country. The system should be changed and these thieves must be punished. We do not want to punish these thieves to gain any happiness out of it. We only want to punish them for stealing the money of the general public. The people of this country want that. We saw the new Emir of Dubai; the first thing he did once he came into power was to capture all the thieves, place them under house arrest and recover the money that they stole. We need that.”

UNP MP, S.M. Marikkar says:

“Sometimes because of the delays experienced in courts, these culprits come out of remand custody on bail and speak like they are saints. I think we should work on expediting the judicial process in our country.”

Convenor of the Voice Against Corruption, Wasantha Samarasinghe said;

“The entire Airbus company has fallen on the head of this government. The names of people who robbed from this deal are being revealed daily. The revelation of the details regarding this Airbus deal is being delayed on purpose. Why is that? Ranil Wickremesinghe and Kabir Hashim are the first people to intervene in this issue. Ajith Dias who was Ranil and Kabir’s friend who was the former Chairman of SriLankan started the investigations. Kabir and Ranil intervened and stopped the investigations, Why? Kapila Chandrasena was the person behind all of this. Although Ranil intervened and halted the investigations the matter was taken up in a European Court and the Airbus company had agreed to pay a settlement of US$ 4 billion that is US$ 4000 million.”

He continued saying:

“When this happened the SriLankan case on the matter also resurfaced. Now when this file resurfaced in Sri Lanka they are trying to cover up one other file. What is that? When Suren Ratwatte, the brother of Charitha Ratwatte was the Chief Executive Officer of SriLankan, he sent US$ 97 million through an SMS, that is Rs. 17 billion. How did Charitha Ratwatte and Suren Ratwatte pay US$ 97 million for the cancellation of this Airbus deal in such haste? This is the money of the people of this country. They had taken commissions from this deal as well. When one file is resurfacing, the other one goes under, or both packages go under and are covered up. Both Kapila Chandrasena and his wife are behind bars now. They have received details on this. Now details have been revealed regarding a company called SL Agro in the Uva Province. This company SL Agro had been involved in the transactions with the American Company Dole to whom 3000 acres of land was given. Euro 140,000 received by Dole were given out in Cash cheques.”

Wasantha Samarasinghe added:

“One member of the board of directors of SL Agro comes out and says that he does not know about this, and it is his brother who knows about it. But there are delays in bringing that elder brother and recording a statement from him. Why is that? We were able to trace the paper trail when money was transferred first to a Singaporean account, then to an Australian account and finally transferred to an account in Sri Lanka. But they cannot bring down the man who issued these cheques and ask him who he issued these cheques to. None of these will happen, because when he reveals those names the case will start afresh. Both of these groups have divided the loot of the same scam.”

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