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COPE probing corruption at Sri Lanka Cricket

SLC Charity paid official more than what was spent on "good works." Rs 50 million spent on "Cricket Campus" but no work done.

The Committee on Public Enterprise has ordered a detailed audit of Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) accounts after incidents of alleged corruption and gross irregularities were revealed during yesterday’s hearings in Parliament.

These investigations are to be overseen by the Auditor General, the COPE ruled.

COPE Chairman Sunil Handunetti observed that the “mindset of the SLC officials is that this is money we earned for the organisation and we can do anything with it.”

This is the fourth time that SLC had been summoned and each time key officials were missing at the hearings.

Those present were Chief Executive Officer Ashley de Silva, Vice Chairman K Mathiivanan and W A Chulananda Perera Secretary  Sports Ministry.

 SLC Chairman Shammi de Silva, Vice Chairman Raveen Wikramarathna and another official Lalith Rambukwella were absent. SLC informed COPE that they were attending a meeting of the Asian Cricket Council overseas.

COPE asked SLC to submit a report on the ACC meeting and why it was necessary for these officials to attend and skip Parliamentary summons.

The committee focussed its attention on the creation of an entity called Cricket Aid by SLC ostensibly to help patients suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology (CKDu).

It found that accounts for the charity had not been audited for more than three years although the Auditors KPMG had been pad Rs. 694,00 for the work.

Committee members questioned an official, said to be a former SLC Accountant who was running the charity. He claimed that he could not remember how much was spent on charity work.

However, COPE found that he had been paid Rs 3.9 million as salary since November 2017 and Cricket Aid had spent Rs 2.4 million on “good works,” which had little do with CKDu but provided free spectacles and other items to the needy.

It was also revealed that three persons, Thilanga Sumathipala, Jayantha Dharmadasa and Mathivanan had been appointed life members of the charity.

There were other revelations as well.

COPE found that SLC was maintaining foreign currency accounts in several countries and seemed to be unaware of how much money was in them. The MPs questioned the legality of these accounts and called for a report.

SLC has leased 256 perches of land in the Katugastota area based on a 30-year agreement with a total lease value of Rs 26.25 million in 2017 to build a proposed Cricket Campus.

SLC could not produce a curriculum proposal from the Ministry of Higher Education nor a feasibility plan for the project.

Apart from the lease amount, it was also revealed that SLC has given the owners of the land, listed as a temple, a donation of Rs 25 million in the same year.

When MPs questioned the officials they said that the Mahanayke of the Malwatte Chapter Ven Thibbotuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero was a party to the donation.

COPE members demanded that SLC provide proof of that statement at a subsequent hearing.

Further, without showing this Rs 25 million as expenses in its financial statement SLC had shown it as an investment for unfinished work but as of 30 July 2019, the construction of the cricket campus has not commenced.

It was also found that as previously revealed in parliament by Arjuna Ranatunga earlier last month that the Cheif auditor of SLC has lodged a complaint to the Criminal Investigation Department in 2018 saying that the Chief Financial Officer of SLC has fraudulently given a fake foreign account number, a fake e-mail and a fake invoice to Sony Pictures Network India (Pvt) to deposit money.

Accordingly, Sony Pictures Network India (Pvt) has deposited 15 per cent of the total agreement of USD 1,247,231.67 for the television broadcasting rights of South Africa tour of Sri Lanka amounting to Rs 29,834,405 (USD 187,084.75) which was to be paid to SLC at the end of the tour according to the agreement.