Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Thusith Mudalige yesterday revealed that the Singapore bank account belonging to former SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena’s wife had a record of sending USD 800,000 to an individual by the name of Nimal Hemasiri Perera in November 2014, after the alleged USD 2 million commission was received from the French AIRBUS Company in connection with the 14 Airbuses purchase in 2013.
When questioned by Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake, it was revealed that Nimal Hemasiri Perera's name was mentioned in another similar money laundering case at the Fort Magistrate where the main suspect is MP Namal Rajapaksa (Case No: B 195/16). Furthermore, the DSG informed that extracts of this case had been sent to the Attorney General's Department expecting further investigations into the AIRBUS case. However, the DSG was of the view that the response of the police in probing this case was not satisfactory.
“We are not supposed to advise the CID to do everything. We have informed the CID to investigate into this money laundering case, but there is no action taken so far,” the DSG stated. In 2013, SriLankan Airlines was supposed to purchase 14 Airbuses from a company called AIRBUS in France of which the mother company was EADS. During this transaction, the second suspect, Priyanka Wijenayake (wife of the SriLankan Airlines CEO) had allegedly formed a company called ‘BIZ SOLUTION’ in Brunei under her name. The accounts of this company were maintained in a Singaporean bank. According to the investigation, on December 27, 2013, BIZ SOLUTION’s Singaporean bank account had received a sum of USD 2 million from mother company EADS. According to bank records of BIZ SOLUTION, there had been two remittances on November 19 and December 22, 2014 to a bank account named SABRE VISION LTD registered in British Virgin Island. This bank account belonged to Wannakawattawaduge Don Nimal Hemasiri Perera whose name was mentioned in the money laundering case in which MP Rajapaksa is the main suspect,” the DSG said. Subsequently, on the request of the prosecution, the Fort Magistrate imposed a travel ban on Nimal Perera.
At the onset of yesterday’s inquiry, DSG Mudalige exposed another receipt of EURO 160,000 by local company ‘SL AGRO.’ He said, so far, two directors had been identified as managing this company.
The DSG at this point informed the court that the CID had failed to probe this transaction deftly as it had not obtained court orders to peruse bank details relating to this alleged receipt of EURO 160,000. He said some flaws had been noticed by the AG even when the CID summoned the two directors to record statements. The CID told it only recorded statements from one director who had given street name ‘Gregory Road’ in Colombo 7 as whereabouts of the other who happens to be one of his brothers.
Defence counsel Nalin Ladduwahetti PC and Anuja Premaratne PC who appeared for the suspects criticised the behaviour of the CID saying it was absurd how the CID allowed the individual concerned to walk away by only recording a street name as the residence of his own brother.
However, the magistrate later gave certain orders by allowing the CID to get details from several private banks. At this moment, the Fort Magistrate questioned the CID regarding the conduct of the investigation. Excerpts:
Magistrate: Do you (CID) have any trouble or difficulty conducting this investigation?
Magistrate: If you have any trouble, please inform the court
Magistrate: The Attorney General has provided certain instructions to the CID but they had not been complied with properly. So my question is, why do the police always inform the court that they need to obtain AG’s advice in cases if they do not comply with them?
Magistrate: How can you question a person over the receipts of alleged money without obtaining bank details?
Magistrate: I am asking this again, do you have any problem conducting the investigation?
CID: No your honour. We will try to finish the investigation as soon as possible.
Magistrate: The investigation needs to find the truth behind these transactions. Merely receiving a commission from AIRBUS to suspects’ accounts is not the public concern here. You need to find the motive as to why such money was given in the first place.
Remanding the suspects till March 4, the magistrate also considered the slack manner of the CID in conducting the investigation as it had not fully committed to discover the materials regarding the money received in Sri Lanka regarding the Airbus deal. (Shehan Chamika Silva)