Controversial MiG deal: Sri Lanka-Ukraine agreement missing?

Maithri Gunaratne, PC has informed the Fort Magistrate’s Court recently that the agreement between the Governments of Sri Lanka and Ukraine supposedly signed during the ‘MiG deal’ has gone “missing”.

These revelations were made when the case regarding the deal was called before the court last month through a motion.

Gunaratne had informed the court that during the Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) investigations into the deal, an Air Marshall attached to the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) had revealed that the agreement had gone “missing”.

However, although almost a decade had passed since the revelation, the CID was yet to take any action on the matter, he had said.

Thus, he had claimed that the CID had named witnesses in the case as suspects.

Reports about the controversial ‘MiG deal’ show that although former SLAF Commander Air Marshal Donald Perera had wanted to call for an open tender to procure MiG 27 aircraft in January 2006, Udayanga Weeratunga had accompanied certain Ukrainian and Singaporean businessmen who had met with then Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, after which it had been decided to buy the aircraft from Ukrinmash – a Ukrainian company. Weeratunga was appointed as the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia and Ukraine in June 2006.

As per the supposed contract between the SLAF and Ukrinmash, over $ 14 million had been paid to a private company in the UK, known as Bellimissa Holdings Ltd.

Further investigations into the matter revealed that although the deal was claimed to be a Government-to-Government one, the Ukrainian Government had said that Ukrinmash had no connection to Bellimissa Holdings, thus indicating that millions of dollars of Government funds had gone into private pockets.

When contacted, SLAF Spokesperson Capt. Dushan Wijesinghe said that when the investigation had been carried out years ago, the SLAF had compiled a report on the matter and submitted it to the court. According to Capt. Wijesinghe, the officer in question is now retired.

Police Spokesperson DIG Nihal Thalduwa told The Sunday Morning that they could not comment on court proceedings.