Criminal probe into corruption at Sri Lankan
Sri Lanka’s new government has ordered a criminal investigation into alleged corruption at state-run Sri Lankan Airlines .
May 1, 2015
Sri Lanka’s new government has ordered a criminal investigation into alleged corruption at state-run Sri Lankan Airlines . Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office said an inquiry, led by an anti-corruption lawyer, had found “shocking details of corruption running into billions of dollars” at Sri Lankan Airlines, as well as “irregularities” in its $2.3 billion 2013 deal to buy 10 Airbus aircraft, according to Sri Lankan media reports.
Th e statement, issued on Saturday, contained no allegations of wrongdoing by Airbus. Th e statement also said that former airline chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe, who it identified as a brother-in-law of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, “should be prosecuted”. Wickremasinghe resigned as the airline’s chairman shortly after Rajapaksa, who had been Sri Lankan president for 10 years, was defeated in a January election by Maithripala Sirisena.
Th e statement also said staff at the airline had knowingly ignored conflicts of interest with companies and individuals it hired, and that the inquiry found cases of the manipulation of contracts. It also alleged that Rajapaksa changed the management of the loss-making airline, which is majority government-owned, to ensure the purchase of the Airbus aircraft despite the availability of cheaper alternatives.
Rajapaksa and former government officials have rejected the allegations and said they are ready to face any investigation.