Sri Lanka Arrests Former Airline Chief Over Airbus Kickback Claims

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Authorities arrested Sri Lanka's national carrier's former chief on Thursday on allegations that he received bribes for an Airbus aircraft acquisition deal.

Written By Shubham Bose | Mumbai | Updated On:
Sri Lanka

Authorities reportedly arrested Sri Lanka's national carrier's former chief on Thursday on allegations that he received bribes for an aircraft acquisition deal. This recent arrest is the result of a series of corruption probes into the SriLankan Airlines. The probes were ordered by the country's president.

Remanded into custody

The Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered the probe into the national carrier after SriLankan Airlines was mentioned in documents related to corruption probes into Airbus. In late January a French court-approved $4 billion to be paid by Airbus to France, Britain and US to settle the investigations launched in these countries against Airbus.

According to reports, the investigators in Britain accuses Airbus of being unable to prevent their personnel for offering bribes to directors and employees of the various airlines. The bribes were allegedly offered so that the company may gain or retain a business advantage.

Kapila Chandrasena was the chief executive of SriLankan Airlines in 2013 when the incident took place. After his arrest, Chandrasena was remanded into custody for two weeks. He has been charged with money laundering and bribery.

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Chandrasena's wife, Priyanka Niyomali Wijenayaka, was also arrested on money laundering charges.
Sri Lanka's previous government had also undertaken an investigation into the purchase of 10 Airbus aircraft. Unfortunately, the investigations at that time did not yield any concrete conclusion.

SriLankan Airlines was originally a profitable joint venture between SriLanka and Dubai-based Emirates Airline. Mismanagement and corruption after the split in 2008 means that now the national carrier is no longer profitable. According to reports, the airline has an accumulated loss of $1.24 billion and debt of about $750 million.

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