- CID names duo as suspects
- Commission of USD 2 million accepted
- Money laundering charges levelled
- Inquiry reveals attempts to leave country
By Shehan Chamika Silva
Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday issued a warrant directing the CID to arrest and produce former SriLankan Airlines (SLA) CEO Kapila Chandrasena and his wife Priyanka Wijeynayake for accepting a bribe of USD 2 million from a French airbus company and laundering money in connection with the purchase of 14 Airbuses in 2013.
At the onset of the inquiry, Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige and Janaka Bandara, appearing on behalf of the Attorney General (AG), sought a warrant against the suspects. They also filed a B-report naming the duo as suspects to the inquiry.
However, the magistrate questioned the need of the warrant as the offence was cognizable under the Criminal Procedure Code where the CID could directly arrest and produce the suspects in court. In response, DSG Mudalige said the case was first reported to the Fort Magistrate in September 2019 and subsequently the prosecution had obtained a travel ban against the individuals concerned who were not suspects at that moment and hence it was desirable to keep the court informed of the matter. He also said the investigation had reached international dimensions where there may be other suspects hitherto unknown to the prosecution thus obtaining a warrant through court would be appropriate.
It was revealed that on January 29 this year, the two suspects had applied a motion to court to lift their travel ban. Subsequently on January 31, the court had called the CID to consider the matter. According to the Fort Magistrate, at this point of time, the CID was not answering the court in a steady manner over lifting the travel ban and hence the magistrate directed it to consult the AG and report to court on February 3. However, last morning, the suspects had withdrawn their application to lift the travel ban and appeared in court.
DSG Thusith Mudalige commended the magistrate for deploying due diligence when considering the travel ban application despite CID’s hesitance.
When the matter was called in the presence of officials attached to the AG, the prosecution brought up concerns over the case and requested to issue a warrant. Consequently, Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake acting under Sections 138 and 139 of the Criminal Procedure Code proceeded to lead evidence of CID officer Ruwan who is an investigator of the matter since 2018.
During the inquiry, it was transpired that the suspects had been involved in getting a commission from a French company when SriLankan Airlines transacted a purchase of 14 airbuses in 2013.
According to investigations, it was revealed that in 2013, when SriLankan Airlines was supposed to purchase 14 Airbuses from ‘AIRBUS’ in France, the mother company of that enterprise was named ‘EADS.’ During this transaction, the second suspect Priyanka Wijeynayake had formed the company ‘BIZ SOLUTION’ in Brunei under her name. The accounts of this company had been maintained at a bank in Singapore.
According to the investigation, on December 27, 2013, the Singaporean bank account of BIZ SOLUTION had received a sum of USD 2 million from EADS. The CID had obtained this information by requesting details of the Singaporean bank through the Mutual Assistance Act.
According to these details, it was revealed that the sum of USD 2 million was then remitted to an Australian bank account belonging to Kapila Chandrasena on four occasions. The prosecution considered these acts as attempts to launder money obtained illegally by accepting a commission from the French company.
Furthermore, DSG Mudalige observed that this process may involve more culprits both locally and internationally. The suspects were so far accused of committing offences under Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act.