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SLC funds amounting to Rs 29 mn in US bank: SLC caught lying before COPE



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Prof. Charitha Herath yesterday (9) said that the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had taken contradictory positions in respect of Rs. 29 mn deposited in an account belonging to an American identified as Diamond Channel.

SLPP National List lawmaker Prof. Herath made the revelation when The Island raised the simmering controversy over unbridled corrupt practices in respect of SLC operations over the years. The former Media Ministry Secretary pointed out that the SLC took up vastly different positions on the money transfer before the previous COPE, chaired by JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti, on Feb 20, 2020 and subsequently on Feb 11, 2021 and April 06, 2021.

Obviously, the possibility of a deliberate bid to deceive the parliamentary watchdog committee couldn’t be ruled out, the MP said.

Prof. Herath declared that the SLC lacked even the basic financial discipline expected of such a high-profile institution. How could the SLC deposit funds received as the third installment in broadcasting revenue due to it from the Sri Lanka-South Africa 2018 series in an American’s account? lawmaker Herath asked. Their finances had been run in such a shoddy manner, anyone of those in key positions could have moved funds anywhere with impunity, the first-time entrant to the parliament said, in response to another query.

The Island Sports yesterday reported that an abortive bid had been made by the SLC to deceive the Sony Company to transfer USD 5.5 to an offshore account in Hongkong.

According to records available with the COPE, initially the SLC’s Legal Officer Chalaka Silva had categorized the relevant agreement with the Sony Company for television broadcasting rights as a contract for radio broadcasting. When the then COPE Chairman Handunnetti pointed out what he asserted was a deliberate move to mislead the parliament, the Legal Officer promptly apologized. The Legal Officer also said that the SLC’s head of finance usually provided the relevant party – in this case Sony of the required bank details.

Asked whether the parliamentary committee received a plausible response when the top SLC administration was summoned by the COPE on April 6, 2021, Prof. Herath said the body seemed to be in chaos in the wake of continuing investigations into what he called unspeakable financial impropriety

The meeting called to examine the Auditor General’s 2017-2018 report on the SLC and its current status were lawmakers, Mahinda Amaraweera, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, D.V. Chanaka, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Eran Wickremaratne, S.M. Marikkar, Nalin Bandara, Premanath C. Dolawatte and S. Rasamanikkam.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashley de Silva assured the COPE that the matter was under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Prof. Herath said that it couldn’t be such a difficult task for the CID to ascertain the relationship between the SLC and the person who received the money.

The agreement with the Sony Company signed in July 2015 specified all details, including the account number of the Bank of Ceylon account maintained by the SLC. Prof. Herath noted Ashley de Silva had signed the contract on SLC’s behalf.

The Communication Department of the Parliament quoted Prof. Herath as having instructed Sports Ministry Secretary Anuradha Wijekoon to conduct an inquiry into this matter and submit a report within three months to the COPE.

Prof. Herath acknowledged that in spite of periodic examinations of SLC finances by the parliamentary watchdog committee, the country’s most influential sporting authority had managed to escape any penalty. That was the undeniable truth, the lawmaker said, adding that the SLC’s rash explanation as regards the hiring of Chandika Hathurusingha as the country’s head coach in Dec 2017 was similar to that of plot in a detective story. Referring to the explanation given by CEO Ashley de Silva, who had played three Tests and four ODI in 80-90s for the country, Prof. Herath said that the relevant agreement had been finalized by two outsiders, namely Hathurusingha, one of the parties to the agreement and a lawyer named Kaushalya. The SLC took up the position the agreement was prepared in secret as Hathurusingha insisted he wouldn’t go ahead with the contract if it was revealed under any circumstances. Prof. Heath said that the whole exercise seemed to be something out of a detective story.

The then Sports Minister Harin Fernando called for Hathurusingha’s removal in the wake of Sri Lanka’s poor performance at the sixth ICC World Cup in 2019. Hathurusinghe sued the SLC over the premature termination of his contract. The COPE was told the role played by the then President of the Board of Control of Cricket Tilanga Sumathipala and Vice President K. Mathivanan, who quit the post in July 2020 following a spat with other board members.

Prof. Herath has told the COPE meeting on April 6 if the court case in respect of Hathurusingha’s removal went against the SLC, in terms of the contract, the latter would have to pay the former coach Rs 100 mn, in addition to legal fees amounting to Rs 30 mn so far incurred. Prof. Herath pointed out that the SLC was paying a heavy price for negotiating a contract under mysterious circumstances.

Sports Ministry Secretary Wijekoon declared before COPE that he was not satisfied with the way the SLC managed its finances. Wijekoon revealed various persons had received monthly payments ranging from Rs 200,000 to 600,000 under questionable circumstances.

In spite of changes to the top management team, CEO Ashley de Silva has remained at the helm for 13 years. During the tenure of Tilanga Sumathipala as the President of the Board of Control of Cricket the CEO received an unprecedented salary increase, well informed sources told The Island. Shammi Silva succeeded Sumathipala in Feb 2019.

Prof. Herath said that some former members of the SLC executive committee were not allowed to participate at the April 6 meeting though they arrived at the parliament.

Prof. Herath said that those responsible had allowed the deterioration. The failure on the part of the Director General of Sports and the absence of proper procurement guidelines, too, has been highlighted along with payments made to various cricket associations with an eye on cricket board elections.

At the conclusion of the April 6 inquiry Prof. Herath instructed Sports Ministry Secretary Wijekoon to initiate legal proceedings against those members of the SLC’s executive committee found guilty of financial impropriety. Wijekoon was also asked to secure the assistance of the AG in this regard.

Responding to another query, Prof. Herath said that he discussed the issues at hand with Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa. The issues raised included the continuation of Ashley de Silva as the CEO regardless of happenings at the SLC.

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Stay on course and don’t go back to the past – Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy




Former Governor of the Central Bank delivering the keynote address at a high profile Webinar hosted by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka today (24)  said that Sri Lanka must implement the structural reforms proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) without relaxing like in the past or else we will be in a deeper economic mess.

The webinar was titled ‘What is next for Sri Lanka in the wake of the IMF programme’

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Sustainable economic development goals cannot be achieved unless attention is paid to mitigating climate change – Sagala Ratnayake




President’s Senior Adviser on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff  Sagala Ratnayake said sustainable economic development goals cannot be accomplished without taking steps to mitigate climate change.

He said this while participating in the 10,000 sapling planting program organized by the LEO Youth Vision 2048 Club and the LEO Club at the Royal College, Colombo on Thursday (23rd).

This program was organized in view of President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s birthday, which is today (24), and the required plants were distributed to the main schools of the Colombo District.

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SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving



By Saman Indrajith

Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.

“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.

Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.

“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.

Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.

“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”

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