President orders probe on corrupt deal involving Airbus and SriLankan

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered an investigation into a corrupt deal involving Airbus and SriLankan Airlines.

Meanwhile, SriLankan Airlines Limited said that it has become aware of a judgement in the United Kingdom related to a charge of corruption in the purchase/ lease of Aircraft between the period 2011-  2015 June.

Therefore the Chairman with the concurrence of the Board has directed the management to cooperate fully with any Governmental agency in the event of any investigation/ prosecution.

The management has also been directed to preserve and study all available internal documentation with a view to take all possible corrective future action.

In a statement yesterday, Transparency International Sri Lanka said that Airbus reached a record 3.6 Billion Euro settlement with US, UK and French authorities following a 4 year investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption.

Transparency International Sri Lanka noted the importance of paying compensation to the countries who are the victims of corrupt deals involving Airbus.

The statement of facts issued on 31 January 2020 as part of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement reached between Airbus and the prosecuting authorities, indicates that Airbus had agreed to pay out a sum of 16.84 Million US dollars to a company registered in Brunei under the wife of an executive at SriLankan Airlines. Furthermore, the statement reads that Airbus had paid out a sum of 2 Million US dollars of the agreed amount to the company. The statement of facts is available here.

“Between 1 July 2011 and 1 June 2015 Airbus SE failed to prevent persons associated with Airbus SE from bribing others concerned with the purchase of aircraft by SriLankan Airlines from Airbus, namely directors and/or employees of SriLankan Airlines, where the said bribery was intended to obtain or retain business or advantage in the conduct of business for Airbus SE,” the statement of facts noted.

TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere said, “It is important to recall that the fallout from this deal is widely reported to have cost in excess of 17 billion rupees (USD 116mn [2015]) in cancellation penalties. Given that the evidence now shows that corruption was involved in the procurement process, it is imperative that action is taken both internationally and locally to ensure that Airbus and its agents are held accountable for losses inflicted on Sri Lanka.”

Obeyesekere added, “The settlement reached between Airbus and prosecuting authorities in the US, UK and France should by no means be interpreted as a clean slate. The actions of Airbus and its agents as far as Sri Lanka is concerned is emblematic of corrupt and exploitative business practices which prey on the vulnerable.”

TISL had previously highlighted this issue in a letter addressed to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Large-Scale Fraud & Malpractice in SriLankan Airlines. The letter dated August 2018 was accompanied by a report compiled by Corruption Watch UK, detailing potentially corrupt deals involving Airbus and several other airlines and a letter co-signed by TISL along with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from France, Indonesia, Tunisia, the UK and the US. This letter dated June 2018 was addressed to the Serious Frauds Office in the UK, the Parquet National Financier in France, the US Department of Justice and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Key among the recommendations made by the CSOs was that countries where it is proven that Airbus or its agents have paid bribes, are fully compensated for harm caused. Whilst court approval was granted in the UK today for the Deferred Prosecution Agreement with Airbus, Sri Lankan authorities must take this opportunity to hold to account those responsible, both domestic and foreign, for the significant losses inflicted on the Sri Lankan public. (Colombo Gazette)


  1. It might implicate the kith & kin of higher ups in the mentioned time period. People know who were directly involved, so justice needs to be done


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