US cable accuses CHEC of being involved in bribery

| 30/08/2011

(Insidethegames): Hambantota, which is bidding for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, has found itself at the centre of the latest WikiLeaks controversy after it was revealed that the United States Government believed the Chinese were bribing Sri Lankan officials to win contracts linked to the redevelopment of the city. China has been the driving force behind a major infrastructural development phase with an international airport, international port, and railway line being built in Hambantota, which was devastated in 2004 by the tsunami. Phase Oneof the new Hambantota Port was constructed by the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) at a cost of $360 million.

"It is likely that corruption and political patronage are significant factors playing into the focus on Hambantota," said the cable sent from the US Embassy in Sri Lankan capital Colombo published on WikiLeaks.

"Often when Chinese companies win contracts, their success is due in part on their widespread distribution of graft to senior Sri Lankan Government officials. While it is currently unknown to what extent President Mahinda Rajapaksa is involved in Hambantota development, it seems logical that his hand is also out when commercial enterprises, especially the Chinese, jockey for contracts and projects."

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