By Munza Mushtaq
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AA) - A former chief executive officer of Sri Lanka’s national flag carrier and his wife were remanded in custody on Thursday in a bribery scandal involving the French aerospace company, Airbus.
The former chief executive officer of the loss making SriLankan Airlines, Kapila Chandrasena and his wife, were remanded by a Sri Lankan court on Thursday for their involvement in a bribery scandal involving the French plane-maker Airbus.
Kapila Chandrasena and his wife Priyanka Niyomali surrendered to the Criminal Investigation Department three days after arrest warrants were issued for them.
Soon after the surrender, they were arrested and produced to the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s court which remanded the couple until Feb. 19.
According to U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, Airbus allegedly hired Niyomali as an agent and paid her $2 million to “influence” the debt-ridden SriLankan Airlines to purchase 10 aircraft from the company in 2013, during the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is the incumbent prime minister.
The payment by Airbus had reportedly been made through a Brunei shell company to Niyomali’s company in which she was the only director.
However, following the election of Maithripala Sirisena as president in 2015, the government under him cancelled the order of four aircraft, citing controversies in the agreement.
Due to the cancellation, the Sirisena’s government had to pay a penalty of $154 million.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) said that it’s important for Airbus to pay compensation to the countries who fell victim to its corruption.
Asoka Obeyesekere, TISL’s executive director, said given that evidence shows corruption was involved in the procurement process, it is imperative that action is taken both internationally and locally to ensure that Airbus and its agents are held accountable for losses inflicted on Sri Lanka.
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SriLankan Airlines' ex-CEO, wife remanded for bribery
By Munza Mushtaq