5 April 2015
An anti-corruption lawyer appointed by the new government of Sri Lanka has uncovered corruption in Sri Lankan Airlines amounting to billions of dollars. There were irregularities in its contract in 2013 to buy 10 Airbus Aircrafts for US$2.3 billion (S$3.11 billion). Sri Lankan Airlines is 51% owned by the Sri Lankan government. Other major shareholders are Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank. Both are government controlled banks.
The statement released by Prime Minister’s office did not make any allegations of wrong doing by Airbus. The statement added that the former chairman of Ari Lankan Airlines Mr. Nishantha Wickremasinghe “should be prosecuted”.
It was alleged that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa changed the management of the Sri Lankan Airlines to facilitate the purchase of Airbus fleet although cheaper alternatives were available.
Mr. Wickremasinghe is said to be a brother-in-law of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa who had been Sri Lankan president for 10 years. Mr Rajapaksa was defeated in a January election by Maithripala Sirisena. Mr. Wickremasinghe resigned his position as the chairman of the Airlines shortly after Rajapaksa was defeated in the elections.
For the present government to make further progress in this matter there needs to be tough laws like FCPA in France. Airbus is headquartered in France. There is no FCPA like laws in France. Besides France is also another corrupt country where many of her past political leaders have been charged for corruption.
Airbus has said that it had no comment of Sri Lankan government statement.
Sri Lanka is not new to corruption. For many decades the politicians had been corrupt. Only now the scale of corruption has gone high.