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SriLankan Airlines clarifies position on Weliamuna Report, aftermath actions

The Corporate Communications Division of SriLankan Airlines in a statement issued to the media on Thursday had clarified the actions taken by its Board of Directors in the aftermath of the Weliamuna Report.

In early 2015, Attorney-at-Law J. C. Weliamuna was appointed head of an investigation into issues regarding abuse of power, irregularities of airline procurement and leasing, due process, and external interferences.

The SriLankan Airlines said its Board of Directors have, in the three years since, “taken all action possible to address the internal and disciplinary issues highlighted in the J. C. Weliamuna Report.”

Statement in full:

Due to numerous Newspaper articles and other interested parties who have referred to the J.C. Weliamuna Report many a time, this response is to put things into perspective, which we hope will clarify the position of the actions taken by the Board of Directors of SriLankan Airlines Limited.

The then Minister of Ports, Shipping & Aviation, Arjuna Ranatunga in February 2015 appointed a Board of Inquiry headed by Attorney-at-Law J.C. Weliamuna and the terms of reference of the Board of Inquiry was to conduct a preliminary investigation and ascertain whether there was prima facie evidence of the following:

(a) Abuse of power by the Board of Directors and the Senior Management of SriLankan Airlines prior to the appointment of the current Board of Directors in February 2015.

(b) Irregularities in the procurement/or leasing of Aircraft.

(c) Whether due process has been followed in the procurement of goods and services by SriLankan Airlines valued at over LKR 25 MN.

(d) Whether there have been external interferences adversely affecting the smooth functioning of the Airline.

At a Cabinet Sub Committee on Economic Affairs Chaired by the Prime Minister in July 2015, it was explained that the Ministry of Aviation has sought the opinion of the Attorney General on the J.C. Weliamuna Report and that some of the cases reported had been referred to the Bribery Commission, CID and FCID. At that same meeting, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines was instructed to submit a report to the next meeting, on the actions that has been taken by the Board of Directors to address the internal issues and disciplinary issues highlighted in the report.

On the instructions of the Cabinet Sub Committee, a comprehensive response to the J.C. Weliamuna Report on the actions taken by the three member Board Committee in respect of the observations and recommendations made in the Report, was submitted.

The comprehensive response to the Weliamuna Report was also submitted to the President; the Prime Minister; Kabir Hashim/Minister of Public Enterprise Development; Eran Wickramartne, Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development; Ravindra Hewavitharana, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Enterprise Development; ;D. Swarnapala,Secretary, Ministry of Aviation and R Paskaralingam, Advisor to the Ministry of National Policies & Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance & Planning.

In September 2017, a comprehensive docket containing the Company’s responses in connection with the Weliamuna Report were submitted to the Chairman of the COPE, Sunil Handunnetti, MP. Most recently, a further update in January 2018 was submitted to the Minister Kabir Harshim,Minister of Public Enterprise Development.

It is to be noted that whilst simultaneously the internal investigation were being carried out by a three member Board Committee of SriLankan Airlines, some of the employees were also summoned to the PRECIFAC (Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and abuse of power, state resources and privileges), CID (Criminal Investigation Department), FCID (Financial Crimes Investigation Division) and the Bribery commission (Commission to investigate allegations of Bribery or Corruption) to provide Statements and submit documents and information and to this date, investigations continue with the CID, FCID and Bribery Commission. The external investigations on the matters referred to above are not within the capability or the mandate of the Board of Directors.

In July 2016, Kabir Hashim, Minister of Public Enterprise Development, requested that a forensic audit on the financial transaction and affairs referred to in the Weliamuna Report be conducted by a forensic accounting services but owing to the high cost involved, the decision was abandoned by the Minister.

Contrary to popular belief, the Board of Directors of SriLankan Airlines have taken all action possible to address the internal and disciplinary issues highlighted in the J. C. Weliamuna Report.