References have also been made to Sri Lanka in foreign media reports on the massive corruption scandal rocking the world’s second largest aircraft manufacturer, Airbus. Spiegel Online, one of the most widely read English language news websites in Germany, says suspicious cases have begun popping up around the world, including in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China, Tunisia, Kazakhstan and Mali.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders last week warned that the aircraft manufacturer could face “significant penalties” relating to ongoing corruption probes including one into the sale of fighter jets to Austria. “We are currently being investigated for alleged breaches of anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws,” Enders wrote in a letter to employees.
According to AFP, an Airbus business unit in Paris reportedly built a network of shell companies linked to London-based Vector Aerospace, formerly the group’s aircraft maintenance subsidiary.
Its system allowed the group to make “bribes to decision-makers in Austria” while Vienna was considering its purchase of Eurofighter military jets, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Friday, culminating in a 15-aircraft deal worth about 1.7 billion euros (US $2 billion).
Inquiries have also been opened in France and Britain, on suspicion of corruption in Airbus’s UK-based civil aviation arm.
Sri Lankan government is currently in a multi-million dollar dispute with Airbus over the purchase of four Airbus A 350-900 aircraft ordered during the previous Rajapaksa regime.
National carrier SriLankan Airlines has already paid pre-delivery payments for these aircraft running into US dollar millions but the airline’s director board in November 2016 decided to stop making these payments.
The delivery dates of the aircraft were to commence from the second quarter of 2020 with the last aircraft being delivered on the first quarter of 2021.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) detectives are now probing how this purchase deal under the previous Government came about.
In addition to the purchase of four Airbus A 350-900, SriLankan Airlines also obtained on lease four more. The lease has now been terminated with a controversial payment of US$ 146.5 million.