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FOREIGN MINISTRY REQUESTS UAE

The Attorney General yesterday informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has made a request from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities to deport former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga to Colombo in connection with the controversial MiG aircraft deal.

Senior State Counsel Udara Karunaratne appearing for the Attorney General informed Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne that Weeratunga had been arrested by UAE authorities and is currently detained in Abu Dhabi.

The Magistrate had earlier issued an open warrant written in English through Interpol for the arrest of Udayanga Weeratunga, a first cousin of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa over alleged financial fraud that is alleged to have taken place in procuring seven MiG-27 ground attack craft for the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).The Magistrate issued an order directing the managers of two private banks that bank transaction details pertaining to the mother-in-law of Udayanga Weeratunga be provided to FCID for their on going investigations.

The FCID alleged that Udayanga Weeratunga had allegedly misappropriated Rs.1072 million through the MiG aircraft transaction. The FCID informed court that it has traced properties said to be worth Rs.94 million belonging to former Ambassador.

The FCID conducting investigation into MiG aircraft transaction had named Udayanga Weeratunga and five other Singaporeans as suspects in the case through a B report filed in the Fort Magistrate’s Court. The FCID had informed Court that Udayanga Weeratunga had directly intervened into the questionable transaction in procuring MiG-27 ground attack crafts.The FCID said the deal amounted to US$ 14 million.

On June 9, 2016 the Colombo Fort Magistrate had issued notice on Udayanga Weeratunga to appear in Court July 15 but he did not turn up. Thereafter, on October 20, 2016 court issued a warrant for Weeratunga’s arrest.

The FCID told court that they were investigating whether the former Sri Lankan ambassador in Russia had invested money in a company called Sri Lankan Limited Liability Company in Moscow, which he had earned through the Mig-27 transaction. Meanwhile, the FCID named five foreign nationals and a foreign company as suspects regarding this case.The FCID launched this investigation following a complaint lodged by defence columnist and political writer Iqbal Athas.

In his complaint to the FCID, journalist Iqbal Athas stated that he had written several articles regarding the financial irregularities that had taken place in procuring four Mig-27 aircraft at a higher price. He told the police that these ground attack aircraft had been manufactured between 1980 and 1983. He said financial irregularities had taken place during the transaction between Sri Lanka and Ukraine.