PCoI told of a phantom request from Treasury to UL


By Rathindra Kuruwita 

Senior SriLankan officials had been informed, in 2010, that the Treasury wanted the airline to seek the services of an international financial company to evaluate a business plan formulated by former CFO, S. A. Chandrasekera, but there were no records of such a request from the treasury, Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on irregularities at SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering and Mihin Lanka was informed, yesterday.

Yasantha Dissanayake, Head of Financial Management at SriLankan, told the PCoI last week that former CEO Manoj Gunawardena had informed him that the Chairman and the Treasury wanted Chandrasekera’s plan to be reviewed by international companies. SriLankan Airlines Management paid Rs. 50.7 million to Via Capital Company in 2010 to evaluate a business plan formulated by SA Chandrasekera for Rs. 750 000. 

 Appearing before the PCoI, SriLankan Company Secretary, Dalrene Thirukumar said that the only time the Chairman of the airline had met the Secretary to the Treasury was in late 2009 and that was to discuss the financial difficulties faced by SriLankan and the need for a capital infusion. 

Referring to board minutes Thirukumar said that on October 2008, the Board of Directors of the airline had decided that the Chairman should meet the Secretary to the Treasury and ask for immediate cash infusions to deal with the financial difficulties faced by the airline. "However, there has been no mention of such a meeting between 2008 and 2010. The only time that a reference was made of such a meeting was made in 2011 by Board Member, Manilal Fernando. He said that such a meeting had taken place in mid-2009," she said.

SA Chandrasekera was appointed by SriLankan Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe to prepare a strategic business plan for SriLankan, within three months for four financial years in April 2010. He was paid Rs. 250,000 a month. During that time there had not been a meeting between SriLankan Chairman and the Secretary to the Treasury. Therefore, it is unlikely that such a request had been made by the Treasury, she said. 

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