AG: Udayanga cannot come, he is in UAE jail

The Attorney General’s Department yesterday informed the Fort Magistrate’s Court that ex-Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga was currently in jail in the United Arab Emirates and, therefore, he would not be able to arrive in Sri Lanka of his own volition to appear in Court over the MiG aircraft deal.

Senior State Counsel Udara Karunathilaka, appearing for the AG told Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne that a warrant had been issued on Weeratunga, on the Interpol Red List, and he could not act on his own. Officers of the Financial Crimes Division who were investigating the MiG aircraft deal should visit the country where Weeratunga was detained, take him into its custody and bring him back to Sri Lanka.

Counsel Karunathilaka said so when Weeratunga’s counsel Anil Silva PC informed the court that Weeratunga would arrive in Sri Lanka and appear in Court over the MiG aircraft deal.

The Senior State Counsel informed the court that if the suspect wished to come to Sri Lanka to appear before the court, then he should first inform Ajman Provincial Court in the United Arab Emirates of his wish. That is the court which had jailed Weeratunga. On receipt of an order from that Provincial Court, the UAE authorities could bring Weeratunga to a SriLankan flight and there the FCID personnel could take Weeratunga under their custody to bring him to Sri Lanka.

Information had been provided to the court that Weeratunga had intervened in purchasing four MiG aircrafts from Ukraine in 2008.

Magistrate Jayaratne ordered seven banks to release to the FCID information on 40 accounts belonging to five Air Force top officers including a former commander alleged to have been involved in purchasing of aircraft.

The Senior State Counsel informed the court that an account belonging to suspect Weeratunga in a bank in the United Arab Emirates had received Rs. 35,400,000 from one of his accounts in a bank in Colombo on May 4, 2015 several days after the Central Bank of Sri Lanka ordered all banks to freeze accounts belonging to Weeratunga on April 29, 2015.

The SSC said that an investigation was in progress to find out whether the officials of the bank in Colombo had violated the Central Bank order or they had not yet received the order by that time. During that time the mother-in-law of suspect Weeratunga, Indrani Mannapperuma, had received Rs 20 million from the UAE, the state counsel told the court.

The court was told the Sri Lankan government had released USD 14 million to purchase the four MiG aircraft in question, but the Ukrainian company which sold them been paid only 7.8 million US dollars. The balance had been sent to several other countries including Panama, the State Counsel told the Court.

The SSC said that during the same time the four MiG aircraft were purchased, there had been another issue of repairing four MI 24 helicopters and an investigation commenced to ascertain whether any fraud had taken place with regard to that deal as well.

The next hearing will be on August 24.

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