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COPE exposes large scale corruption at SLC

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by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka Cricket’s top brass was put on a sticky wicket by Parliamentary watchdog COPE – Committee on Public Enterprises – when a probe was done into several dealings of the sport’s governing body this week.

COPE Chairman Professor Charitha Herath made a scathing attack on SLC’s Executive Committee and Chief Executive Officer Ashley de Silva for the large scale corruption within the institution.

Professor Herath went onto note that why the game of cricket has suffered new lows in recent times. He said that it was not because of dearth of talent but the sport has been grossly mismanaged by officials who use cricket as their ‘backyard’. COPE recommended urgent legal action to be taken against SLC officials who have developed ruthless, mean and new methods to siphon off large chunks of money.

One of the biggest frauds at SLC in recent times was highlighted during the COPE hearing. An SLC insider instructed the board’s television partner Sony to transfer a sum of US$ 5.5 million to an offshore account in Hong Kong. The transfer was prevented when Sony got suspicious and requested an employee of SLC that why the money had to be transferred to Hong Kong? When the employer informed that no such move had been instructed by the board, it came to light that on a previous instance Sony had already transferred a sum of US$ 187,000 on the instructions of an SLC insider to a bank account in Mexico. That money is still unaccounted for.

SLC at this point informed COPE that the board had suspended the head of finance for this transaction. However, the COPE in return responded that the Head of Finance is just a small fry in a large scale racket.

COPE noted that the transfer of these large chunks of money had been cleverly disguised. SLC’s Ex Co had first removed Chandramali Koralage, the long standing Head of Finance. Together with her, the Accountants who worked for SLC were removed as well. SLC then brought in a new Head of Finance and from there on daylight robbery took place at Maitland Place.

COPE further said that SLC’s unwillingness to conduct an internal inquiry into the loss of massive amount of money was proof that those running the sport did not want to go to the bottom of the problem and find out who were the real culprits.

COPE made some more stunning revelations with regard to the termination of Chandika Hathurusinghe’s contract. It was exposed that if the former Head Coach’s full salary had to be paid for his remaining period of service, SLC would have ended up paying something to the tune of Rs. 100 million. However, by taking him to courts, SLC has already incurred a loss of Rs. 30 million as legal fees and could eventually end up paying the Rs. 100 million and more to Hathurusignghe for wrongful termination of contract. COPE noted that by taking such questionable decisions, parties within SLC could be getting paid under the table while the organization suffered colossal financial losses. COPE Chairman Professor Herath went onto note that SLC CEO Ashley de Silva’s arguments on this account were childish. De Silva was also severely reprimanded for not knowing the contents of his own organization’s minutes.

It was also noted that SLC had written off large chunks of money that companies and members owed the board – at times funds up to the tune of Rs. 25 million. It was observed that some insiders were getting paid handsomely or these were done expecting votes at the AGM. These payments had been subtly marked as match payments or construction payments. However, there is no agreement between SLC or contractors for any of these constructions.

It was also pointed out during the COPE  hearing that there were individuals who provided no service to SLC but were paid a monthly allowance  of Rs. 500,000; Rs. 200,000 for transport and Rs.  300,000 as other allowances!

It also came to light that SLC had put up a cricket ground in 2017 in Pollonaruwa to please a powerful politician.  Although the board had spent Rs. 131 million on the project, no proper approvals from relevant government offices including the Archaeological department had been taken.



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Afghanistan elect to bat first in third T-20 International

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Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first in the third T-20 International against Sri Lanka at Dambulla on Wednesday. The Afghan captain won all three tosses in the series but this is the first time he has opted to bat first.

The game is a dead rubber with Sri Lanka having already secured the series 2-0.

Sri Lanka made four changes from the side that won on Monday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match series.

They left-out Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Binura Fernando and Maheesh Theekshanka and brought in top order batter Kusal Perera, all-rounder Kamindu Mendis, off-spinner Akila Dananjaya and seamer Nuwan Thushara.

Afghanistan also made four changes leaving out Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq.

They brought in all-rounder Sharfuddin Ashraf, left-arm seamer Fareed Malik, right-arm quick Wafadar Momand and batter Mohammad Ishaq, who is making his debut.

The tourists are yet to win a game in the multi-format bilateral tour. They lost the one off Test match in Colombo and suffered a 3-0 whitewash in the ODI series at Pallekele before conceding a 2-0 advantage in the three match T-20 series in Dambulla.

Sri Lanka:

Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (Wicketkeeper), Kusal Perera, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kamindu Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga (Captain) Matheesha Pathirana, Akila Dananjaya and Nuwan Thushara.

Afghanistan:

Ibrahim Zadran (Captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (Wicketkeeper), Azmatullah Omarzai, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Noor Ahmad, Hazratullah Zazai, Sharfuddin Ashraf, Mohammad Ishaq, Fareed Malik and Wafadar Momand.  

Umpires:

Lyndon Hannibal (SRI) and Ravindra Wimalasiri (SRI)

Television Umpire:

 Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SRI)

Match Referee:

Chris Broad (ENG)

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Sri Lanka teams reach tennis quarter-finals

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Dinara de Silva and Ganuka Fernando

The girls and boys teams of Sri Lanka reached the quarter-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup Junior and Junior Davis Cup Asia Oceania Pre Qualifying tournaments continued at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Wednesday.

The girls team beat Maldives 2-0, as Ivanka Samarasinghe (beat Nishan Naba 6-1, 6-2) and Dinara de Silva (beat Azim Araa Aasaal 6-2, 6-2) registered straight set victories in the singles.

The boys team edged out Iraq 2-1. Ganuka Fernando beat Shammama Faisac 6-1, 6-2 in his singles match before joining Lithum Jayabandu to win the doubles against Shammama Faisac and Bakr Akam 6-2, 6-1.

In the second singles Jayabandu went down to Bakr Akam (6-3, 6-2).

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Dialog powers Royal – Thomian for 19th time

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Lasantha Thevarapperuma – Group Chief Marketing Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC handing over the sponsorship to Rev. Marc Billimoria – Warden, S. Thomas’ College and Thilak Waththuhewa - Principal, Royal College. Also pictured (L) Rehan Gunasekera – Co-Chairman, Royal Thomian Match Organizing Committee From RC, (R) Arjuna Waidyasekera – Co-Chairman, Royal Thomian Match Organizing Committee from STC.

Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, has extended corporate backing for the 19th year as official sponsor of the country’s blue ribboned cricket encounter, the ‘Battle of the Blues’ between Royal College, Colombo, and S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia on March 7, 8 and 9 at the SSC Grounds, Colombo. The limited-over ‘Mustang’s Trophy’ match will be on March 16, also at the same venue.

The 145th cricket encounter will be aired live on Dialog Television – ThePapare TV HD (Channel Number 126), live-streamed on ThePapare.com and the Dialog ViU App.

Further, Dialog initiated the ‘Play for a Cause’ charity initiative with a mission to uplift school cricket across Sri Lanka. Through a generous pledge of Rs. 1,000 for every run scored and Rs. 10,000 for every wicket taken, last year’s encounter raised a substantial donation of Rs. 1,128,000. The proceedings were distributed in consultation with the Principal of Royal College and the Warden of S. Thomas’ College. This commendable effort helped support and empower four deserving schools in the country.

In this year’s encounter, the boys from Mt. Lavinia will be led by Mahith Perera, while the lads from Reid Avenue will play under the captaincy of Sineth Jayawardena, the U-19 Sri Lanka skipper. The ‘Royal-Thomian’ series spans an impressive 144 years, making it the second longest uninterrupted cricket series in the world, behind the annual encounter between St. Peters College, Adelaide, and Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, Australia, which began just a year earlier.

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