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SRILANKAN PAID EMBASSY Rs 24 MN FOR RUSSIA FLIGHTS LAUNCH - WITNESS

Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunge and Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B Jayasundera at the Presidential Commission probing into malpractices at SriLankan Airlines at the BMICH yesterday. Pictures by Saman Sri Wedage

SriLankan Airlines paid USD 184,700 (nearly Rs 24 million) to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Russia in 2011 to inaugurate direct flights to Moscow while former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga held office, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry was told yesterday.

Sri Lankan Airlines’ Revenue Accounting Senior Manager Upekha Avanthi Abeysekera presenting documents before the Commission probing into the financial irregularities in the SriLankan and Mihin Lanka Airlines and SriLankan Catering Ltd yesterday said it was the first time that the Airlines transferred money to an Embassy for such a purpose.

She said USD 100,000 of the total sum was spent on Ritz-Carlton hotel in Russia, while another USD 34,000 was spent on proving facilities to VVIPs. She said USD 50,000 of the total sum was spent on those who were involved in the tourism sector.

She said that she was not aware of the names of the VVIPs who participated in the event, but added that usually the President and top rung members of the Government are called VVIPs. She was also not aware as to whether an audit report related to the above mentioned transaction was available. She said the payments had been approved by former SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe and former SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena.


[GOTA, LALITH, PB GIVE STATEMENTS]

Former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, former Defence Secretary and founding Chairman of Mihin Lanka Airlines Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and former Treasury Secretary Dr. P B Jayasundara appeared before Presidential Commission of Inquiry yesterday.

The Commission probing into the financial irregularities in the Sri Lankan and Mihin Lanka Airlines and Sri Lankan Catering Ltd recorded statements from them.