Ex SriLankan Ceo, wife remanded till Feb. 19

7 February 2020 12:10 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Magistrate Dissanayake : Why were these suspects not arrested if the investigation has been continuing since 2016?   
CID: The crucial bank details were received on November 16, 2019, that verified the facts of the investigation.   
M: Why were they then not arrested or named as suspects till February 3, 2020?   
CID: No answer   
DSG Mudalige  said that there may be practical reasons as well, because of the change of government and officers at the CID.   
M: I am asking this to see whether there was any pressure to the prosecution to prevent the arrest.  

 

By Shehan Chamika Silva and Yoshitha Perera   

Considering the fact that there is reasonable doubt that the suspects would avoid the Court, Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday refused to grant bail on former Sri Lankan Airline CEO Kapila Chandrasena and his wife Priyanka Wijeynayake, who were accused of accepting a bribe of USD 2 million from a French Airbus company and laundering money in connection with 14 Airbuses purchased  in 2013.  

The duo was remanded till February 19, 2020 by the Magistrate.   


It transpired during the previous inquiry that suspects Kapila Chandrasena and his wife Priyanka Wijeynayaka had been involved in getting a commission from a French Company when SriLankan Airlines transacted a purchase of 14 airbuses in 2013.   According to the investigations, it was revealed that, in 2013, when Sri Lankan Airline was supposed to purchase 14 Airbuses from a Company called AIRBUS in France. The Mother Company of that Company was named as EADS. 

 
During this transaction, the second suspect, Priyanka Wijeynayake (wife of SL Airlines CEO) had formed a company called ‘BIZ SOLUTION’ in Brunei under her name. The accounts of this was maintained at a bank in Singapore.   According to the investigation, on December 27, 2013, BIZ SOLUTION’s bank account in Singapore had received a sum of USD 2 million from the mother company of AIRBUS in France (EADS).   


The CID had obtained this information by requesting bank details of Singapore bank through Mutual Assistance Act.   


According to these details it was further revealed that the sum of USD 2 million was then remitted to another bank account belonged to Kapila Chandrasena (first suspect) in his Australian bank account on four occasions.   


At the onset of the yesterday’s inquiry, filing a B report the prosecution sought court to remand the suspects, as the investigation is not concluded and few individuals, who were the recipients of some suspicious bank transactions are yet to be interrogated.   


Stressing the importance of keeping the suspects in remand custody for a considerable period, Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige told court that there are ‘some facts revealed in the investigation that cannot be told in open court’, since it may jeopardize the process of the prosecution.   


DSG Mudalige also observed that this whole process may involve more culprits internationally and locally, hence it is an investigation dealing with international dimensions.   
However, appearing for the suspects, President’s Counsel Nalin Ladduwahetti and Anuja Premaratne denying the allegations requested court to release their clients on bail as there is no reason to remand the suspects under section 14 of the Bail Act.   It was explained that the offence levelled against the suspects fell under a non bailable offence according to the Money Laundering Act. Hence, bail can only be granted by a Magistrate upon his discretion considering Section 14 of the Bail Act, where certain situations have to be considered before giving bail.   


-Suspect would not appear to stand his inquiry or trial;   
-Interfere with the witnesses or the evidence against him or otherwise obstruct the course of justice; or   
-Commit an offence while on bail; or   
-That the particular gravity of, and public reaction to, the alleged offence may give rise to public disquiet.   


The President’s Counsel appearing for the suspects argued that their clients have not breached any of the above conditions and that they should not be remanded only because there has been a ‘media trial’ against them.   It was revealed that the CID had first facts reported to Fort Magistrate’s Court about this investigation in September 2019.   


Thereafter the CID had obtained a travel ban against these two individuals without naming them as suspects to the case.   However, on 16 November, 2019, as a result of the investigation, the CID had received a set of bank details from Singapore confirming the allegations against the suspects. Subsequently on January 29, 2020 the suspects had applied a motion seeking to lift their travel ban.   


Later, on January 31, 2020 the court had called the CID to consider the matter.   


According to the Fort Magistrate, as the CID was not answering the court in a satisfactory manner on the lifting of the travel ban, the Magistrate directed them to consult the Attorney General and report to the court on February 3, 2020.   


Fort Magistrate Dissanayake yesterday questioned the investigative officer and asked why they previously wanted a warrant to arrest the suspects as they could have done it without the warrant anyway.   The officer and DSG Mudalige stated that considering the nature of the investigation they decided that obtaining a warrant would be desirable.   


Magistrate commenting on the behaviour of the CID officers said thus:  


“Over the years I have seen two types of suspects in magisterial inquiries. One such who get arrested at the outset of the investigation and other suspects do not get arrested but investigation continues”


Magistrate Dissanayake : Why were these suspects not arrested if the investigation has been continuing since 2016?   
CID: The crucial bank details were received on November 16, 2019, that verified the facts of the investigation.   
M: Why were they then not arrested or named as suspects till February 3, 2020?   
CID: No answer   
DSG Mudalige  said that there may be practical reasons as well, because of the change of government and officers at the CID.   
M: I am asking this to see whether there was any pressure to the prosecution to prevent the arrest.  


At this moment the defence counsel argued that what their clients did not do since November to date (interfering with evidence) would not be done now, as it could only affect adversely to their case, hence no bar to grant bail.   


However, considering all the aspects, Magistrate Dissanayake said that the suspects had attempted to travel abroad on January 29, 2020, but they did not inform court reasons behind that attempt.   


Refusing bail,  the Magistrate said there is reasonable doubt on their conduct to avoid the investigation and court.

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