150-page report recommends Criminal prosecution possible on SriLankan Chairman

36797_1BY NIRANJALA ARIYAWANSHA

The report of the four-member committee appointed to look into the corruption and irregularities alleged to have taken place in the recent past at Sri Lankan Airlines was handed over to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by Chairman of the committee, Attorney-at-Law Chrishantha Weliamuna.
A Board of Inquiry (BOI) has found details of corruption amounting to billions of dollars. These include manipulations of service contracting, recruitment of unqualified staff and major security breaches at Sri Lankan Airlines under the previous government. This was stated by the Prime Minister’s office. The Executive Summary of this report which is about 150 pages in length, consists of seven pages, according to the office of the Prime Minister.
The other members of the four-member committee are Accountant U.H. Palihakkara, Accountant B. A. W. Abeywardena and Attorney-at-Law M. K. Bandara. In addition, specialist advice has been obtained from two consultants connected to aviation and an expert on aviation contractors.
Attorney-at-Law Weliamuna, the chairman of the four-member committee appointed to look into the corruption etc., of Sri Lankan Airlines has found occasions where the former Chairman has abused his powers.
Despite more cost effective alternatives being available, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration engaged in management changes to purchase brand-new aircraft valued at US $ 2.3 billion. The Weliamuna report has recommended that criminal investigations into this entire process should be launched and has stated several instances where the former Chairman Wickremesinghe, a brother-in-law of Mahinda Rajapaksa should be prosecuted.
Weliamuna had also discovered an instance where action had not been taken against two staff members involved in alleged human smuggling. There is a suspicion as to whether certain employees are engaged in a human smuggling ring which is a criminal offence.
Among the corrupt deals of Sri Lankan Airlines are major frauds committed in the award of tenders and duty free deals and sale of wine. According to the report these will require criminal investigations. The BOI has also discovered the corrupt procedure in which General Sales Agents (GSA) were selected for appointments to various countries. The report also points out that the involvement of Udayanga Weeratunga, former Ambassador to Russia and Dilan Ariyawansa in the appointment of GSAs should be investigated.
Meanwhile the Board of Inquiry has queried the employment of Retired Army Major General P. Chandrawansa who had absolutely no experience in aviation security, at a salary of Rs 450,000. This appointment had been done without following proper recruitment procedures. He has been accused of being involved in political activities while being an employee of Sri Lankan airlines. The BOI recommends that his service be terminated. If not they say that disciplinary action should be taken immediately. The Security Department of Sri Lankan Airlines was among the most politicized. Two senior pilots, Patrick Fernando and Ranga Amadoru who had resigned in order to show their opposition to reducing pass marks of pilots to be newly recruited were praised by the BOI. “Their resignation effectively prevented the selection of unsuitable candidates in the 2013 cadet Pilot intake. In view of their bold stand taken to protect professional standards, BOI recommends that they be commended,” the report said.
The report of the four-member Commission concludes with the fact that the management culture was a major contributory factor for abuse of power and external interference into the business of Sri Lankan Airlines.