Bernd Hildenbrand, the interim CEO of PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Karachi Int'l), has been placed on an Exit Control List (ECL), according to sources quoted in Pakistan's The News. Deputy Director of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Khawaja Hammadur Rehman, issued the notification on March 15.

The FIA is investigating Hildenbrand and other PIA executives over alleged kickbacks, embezzlement and mismanagement in the lease of aircraft, namely A330-300 - 4R-ALN (cn 1604) from SriLankan Airlines (UL, Colombo Int'l).

The wet-leased A330 was recently returned, after a six-month contract. The Daily Mirror reports that SriLankan Airlines CEO Captain Suren Ratwatte has said the deal was the most profitable one the airline had made in recent history. PIA reportedly paid USD19 million for the six month deal. The aircraft was deployed on the Premier London Heathrow-Islamabad service, which allegedly lost PKR1.5 billion (USD14.3 million) over the course of its operation.

A Senate panel recently released an enquiry into PIA's finances and management, finding that corruption was a problem in all areas of business. "Corruption is rampant in purchase of spares parts, allocating of space for freight, purchase of tickets, in enrolments and postings and in catering and engineering departments," the report says. It recommends the immediate dissolution of the Board of Directors, and the appointment of a permanent CEO.