Cricket fans who gathered near Sri Lanka Cricket a few days ago stage a protest demanding a shake-up in the sport’s administration following the disastrous performance of the national team at the ongoing cricket World Cup, being held in India. (Pic by Pradeep Dilrukshana)
After the special audit draft report on SLC came to light in August, SLC immediately stated that the institution is not subjected to a government audit
SLC has further sent its responses claiming that it is a volunteer organization and is independent of any external/ regulatory control
The AG’s report further states that financial statements certified by the Executive Committee (Ex-Co) must be submitted to the AG
Even when the host party bears the cost of the airfare, food and lodging, SLC officials still can claim the money as it was not provided by the Cricket Board. These are the tactics of the Ex-Co members to amass money from SLC coffers,” Sources
“The newly proposed constitutional amendments is the only way forward to arrest the dishonourable administration, for the greater betterment of SLC, and for the only sport we can compete internationally as a renowned cricket playing nation. If new amendments are not brought to the constitution it is unlikely that SLC would make better progress as we have experienced how hard it was for us to qualify for the T20 and ODI World Cups; a clear sign of deterioration in what we were good at,”
– A Former National Cricketer
While Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is toiling to return to its glorious match winning trend, members forming the ‘Cricket Board’ and handling cricket administration are accused of abusing their positions and milking the rich coffers of the controlling body for cricket to their own whims and fancies.
With the release of the Auditor General’s (AG) report on SLC astonishing details have surfaced as to how the hierarchy forming the Cricket Board’s administration is plagued with corruption.
After the special audit draft report on SLC came to light in August, SLC immediately stated that the institution is not subjected to government audit as it is not funded by the government or the general treasury. SLC maintained that it generates income to cover its institutional expenses from grants received as a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) by sale of various rights and shares relating to sports derived from organising and conducting international tournaments in Sri Lanka.
Responding to the special audit draft report sent to the Secretary Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs on June 23, 2023, by the Deputy Auditor General Sudeesh Rohitha- on behalf of the Auditor General (AG)- SLC has further sent its responses claiming that it is a volunteer organization and is independent of any external/ regulatory control.
SLC further stated, ‘SLC is controlled by a constitution that has been passed and is neither an institution established under the Companies Act nor an institution incorporated by a special Parliamentary Ordinance, Law or Act. The Cricket Institute is not a public enterprise with shares held by the government or under the control of the government’.
However, AG’s Report No: SPR/2023/02 dated September 11, 2023, states that every sports association registered in terms of Sub Section 21(a) (3) of the Sports Law No: 25 of 1973 as amended by Act No: 47 of 1993 is subject to the audit of the AG. As SLC has obtained ICC membership and represents Sri Lanka under the brand ‘Sri Lanka’, it represents the State and operates as an entity subject to the government regulations.
Considering these facts, SLC cannot be considered as a voluntary organization capable of deviating from the government relating process or financial oversight of Parliament. The AG’s report further states that financial statements certified by the Executive Committee (Ex-Co) must be submitted to the AG in accordance with the sports regulations published by the Extraordinary Gazette No: 1990/23 of October 27, 2016.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that former Sri Lankan cricketers and administrators have submitted a report to the Minister of Sports Roshan Ranasinghe seeking to amend the current SLC constitution; which they claim is the root cause for the unethical governance of the much respected game played in the island.
According to this report submitted to the Minister, the sole cause for this present situation in cricket is connected to Cricket Board elections and the habit of bringing to power the same faces to form the executive committee of SLC. The same administrators elected to the Cricket Board enjoy financial benefits which are then channeled to the respective cricket clubs which they are associated with.
“Comparing to other Test playing nations, it is only in Sri Lanka that there is a need to garner 147 votes to elect a board comprising the executive committee (Ex-Co). This cannot be justified as in other Test playing countries their Ex-Co members are selected from within a number less than the fingers in one’s hands.
The newly proposed constitutional amendments is the only way forward to arrest the dishonourable administration, for the greater betterment of SLC, and for the only sport we can compete internationally as a renowned cricket playing nation. If new amendments are not brought to the constitution it is unlikely that SLC would make better progress as we have experienced how hard it was for us to qualify for the T20 and ODI World Cups; a clear sign of deterioration in what we were good at,” a former national cricketer told the Daily Mirror newspaper.
Shammi Silva has spent a staggering Rs 10.953 million which includes a business class return air ticket that has cost Rs. 2.619 million.
According to what has been revealed in the AG’s report, officials have obtained SLC funds running into millions of rupees and crookedly in the guise of their entitlements.
As SLC is governed by the Sports Act, it is the responsibility of the Sports Minister to take disciplinary action against Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashley de Siva and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Mahesh Bopegamage for making payments for office bearers/Ex-Co members and other staff during this tournament when they were not entitled to such benefits.
“The CEO has to carry out and implement whatever decisions taken by the Ex-Co. Knowing how much each member is entitled to in the form of foreign travel allowance (per diem), he is still allowed as the CFO to pay more than what they have to be given,” highly reliable SLC sources alleged.
Astonishing details in the report reveal how much funds suspended SLC President Shammi Silva has obtained to travel to Australia on two occasions during T20 World Cup matches. Silva has spent a staggering Rs 10.953 million which includes a business class return air ticket that has cost Rs. 2.619 million.
At the 11th SLC Executive Committee Meeting held on July 7, 2022, a decision was taken to bear the cost of the business class tickets for office bearers- Suspended President Shammi Silva, former Secretary Mohan de Silva, Vice Presidents Jayantha Dharmadasa, Raveen Wickremaratne and CEO Ashley de Silva, while other Ex-Co members were paid for regarding their economy class air tickets. In addition they were entitled to visa fees, domestic airfare and a per diem of US$ 700. Per Diem could be claimed only for a maximum period of 10 days.
Silva went to Australia on October 10, 2022, and returned on October 18. Although he was in Australia only for nine days and the total per diem entitlement for this duration was US$ 6, 300 (SLR 2.298 Million), he has obtained the maximum entitlement of US$ 7,000 (SLR 2.554 million) for ten days through SLC payment voucher PY2022008100 dated October 3, 2022. After the initiative of the government audit, he has paid back US$ 700 to SLC on August 14, 2023.
Meanwhile at the 12th Ex-Co meeting held on September 23, 2022, permission was granted to Silva to attend the ICC, Executive Committee meeting scheduled from November 11 to 13, 2022. But he was not granted permission to witness matches; which means he was not entitled for any allowances from SLC during his tour which was to be present at the ICC meeting. However, the audit report states that De Silva had still obtained the allowances disregarding the decisions taken at the 12th Ex-Co meeting.
As per Page 24 of the audit report, it was the ICC that has borne Silva’s air fare, food and lodging for the ICC’s Ex-Co meeting. ICC has paid him a per diem of US$ 500 and for five days; which totals to US$ 2,500.
Despite having been paid a per diem for five days by the ICC, Silva has obtained the travel allowance of US$ 3,500 from SLC for the same period at a rate of US$ 700 per day. In addition, he has also obtained an additional allowance of US$ 3,500 for five more days, claiming that he went to watch the matches; which happened despite the decision taken at the 12th Ex-Co meeting. According to the report a total of US$ 7, 000 has been obtained from SLC during his second trip to Australia through paying voucher PY2022008927 dated October 20, 2022.
Following the initiative of the special government audit, on February 3, 2023, Silva reimbursed US$ 2, 100 (Rs. 767,550) to SLC. This was out of the US$ 7, 000 that he obtained from SLC.
Ashley’s and ICC meetings
Meanwhile CEO Ashley de Silva although paid for by the ICC for taking part in the ICC Committee Meeting held from November 11 to 13, 2022, too had obtained US$ 3,500 from SLC for the days he attended the ICC meetings.
It was the ICC that had spent for Ashely de Silva’s air ticket, food and a per diem of US$ 125 for five days which amounts to a sum of US$ 625. Despite having been paid for by the ICC, he had obtained US$ 3,500 from SLC, for the days he attended the ICC committee meeting and an additional US$ 3,500 for five more days amounting to a total of US$ 7, 000 (SLR 2.788 million)
However, he too has reimbursed US$ 2,100 (SLR 767,550) to SLC on February 3, 2023, following the government audit.
According to the report, SLC spent a staggering Rs. 68.237 million for 14 Office bearers/Ex. Co. members to travel to Australia. Later, Silva, Lasantha Wickremasinghe, Sujeewa Godaliyadda and Krishantha Kapuwatte had reimbursed Rs.2.65 million from the amounts they had received.
SLC had paid ousted President Silva Rs. 10.95 million for his business class air ticket and as foreign travel allowances and former SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva Rs.5.44 million while Vice Presidents Upali Dharmadasa and Raveen Wickremaratne were paid Rs. 5.19 million and Rs. 4.74 million respectively. Treasurer Lasantha Wickremasinghe had been paid Rs.4.81 million, Assistant Treasurer Sujeewa Godaliyadda Rs.4.6 million, Assistant Secretary Krishantha Kapuwatte Rs. 2.3 million, Executive Committee Members Janaka Pathirana Rs. 4 million, Thilak Wathuhewa Rs.3.92 million, Samantha Dodanwala Rs. 4 million, Priyantha Algama Rs. 3.95 million, Bandula Dissanayake Rs. 3.82 million, Nishantha de Silva Rs. 3.61 million and Nalin Aponsu Rs. 4.08 million; taking the total amount to Rs.65.096 million.
Meanwhile, it had come to light how the CEO and former SLC Secretary had issued a request letter for visas to the Australian High Commission. The letter contained 35 names recommended for visas although they were not attached to the Cricket Board. They were of family members and friends of Ex-Co members. Out of these 35 names, 21 were family members and friends of ousted President Silva. Amongst his family members were his wife Roberta Helloise, Mother-in-law Zena Maizie Jeanette Coenraad and brother-in-law Lawry Jude Coenraad. There are also allegations that amongst his friends taken abroad on this tour was the present Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman Nalinda Sampath Illangakoon.
Out of the 35 names sent to obtain visas, two were film artistes; friends of Vice President Jayantha Dharmadasa. As per the audit report SLC has stated that these two artistes were regular Sri Lankan spectators and were from Cine Star Foundation; Dharmadasa’s friends when he was National Film Corporation Chairman.
Amongst the others were nine family members and friends of eight Ex-Co members, two wives of SLC members and one person by the name of Sanjeewa Nishantha Perera, a sports instructor attached to the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). Up to the date this report was issued, Perera has not returned to Sri Lanka.
In the visa request letter to the Australian High Commission, the Cricket Board has stated that they are footing the bill for match tickets for all 35 individuals.
It is reported how SLC has spent Rs. 8.747 million to purchase tickets for the matches although the ICC has issued a certain number of tickets free of charge to every match that was played.
As per paragraph 5.1, of 2022, T20 World Cup instruction Hand Book, 125 free tickets are given for each preliminary match and 155 tickets for each semi-final and final match. Out of what is given for each match, 75 tickets should be given to the players in the team. In addition, 20 complimentary hospitality tickets are also offered free of charge specifically to be given to the relatives and friends of team players.
According to the report, although the national team was entitled to 100 complimentary hospitality tickets for the five matches that Sri Lanka featured in, the ICC had given them only 69 tickets. Though all these tickets should be given to team players for their family/friends, only three tickets have been given to the players and 38 tickets have been given to the Ex-Co members and seven to other SLC officials. Twelve tickets are believed to have been given to those who accompanied the Ex-Co members while nine tickets have been destroyed.
“If these complimentary hopitality tickets were set aside for the players, why were they given to Ex-Co members and others,” sources queried.
76 tickets worth Rs.3.582 million remained unused
As per Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the said Hand Book, if the Sri Lankan team qualified for the semifinals and finals, for each match, SLC was entitled to 175 tickets. Regardless of that possibility, SLC had purchased 150 tickets to the value of Rs. 8.74 million. Out of this, 90 tickets were for the semi finals and 60 for the final. Out of the 150 tickets, the Government Audit has observed that 76 tickets worth of Rs.3.582 million remained unused.
SLC’s Head of Administration Aruna de Silva giving a statement to the Audit has said that out of the 150 tickets purchased only 74 tickets worth of Rs. 5.16 million had been distributed amongst the EX-Co members and other SLC staff.
How tickets were shared among themselves
Out of the 54 tickets, worth Rs. 3.59 million, have been given to Shammi Silva while the remaining were distributed as given below-
Mohan de Silva -03 tickets (SLR 223, 754), Sujeewa Godaliyadda- 06 tickets (SLR 447,500), Nalin Aponsu -04 tickets (SLR 298, 339), Priyantha Algama- 02 tickers (SLR 149, 169), Saman Dodanwala-02 tickets (SLR 149, 169) and Ashley de Silva- 03 tickets (SLR 299, 603).
Meanwhile, it is also reported how SLC has foot the bill amounting to Rs. 2.538 million on behalf of six- players/officials who have had their travel itineraries changed due to personal reasons during T20 cricket series.
Niroshan Dickwella, Matheesha Pathirana, Thimothy Maccasil, Kasun Rajitha, Asitha Fernando and Mahela Jayawardena have got the dates of their return journeys changed for personal reasons which resulted in the SLC having had to bear the cancellation cost amounting to Rs. 2.538 million.
“Although the dates have been changed for personal reasons, without charging them, SLC has made the payments instead,” SLC sources revealed on conditions of anonymity.
The report also reveals how daily foreign travel allowances have been revised to increase the per diem paid to Ex-Co members, managers and other staff when accommodation wasn’t provided by the hosts in European/ African countries.
The per diem rate increased by 75%
From March 15, 2022, the per diem rate has been increased by 75% for the Ex-Co. members, the Management staff by 71% while the others enjoyed an increase of 46%.
From May 2014 up to March 15, 2022, per diem rates for Ex-Co members was US$ 500, Management Staff US$ 450 and US$ 400 for others. With the increase it went up to US$ 700, 600 and 475 respectively.
When amending these rates in May 2014, the decision was taken on the basis of ‘if food and accommodation are provided’ and ‘if food and accommodation are not provided’. However, these rates were revised in 2022 and the change now specifies two categories ‘if food and accommodation are not provided by SLC’ and ‘if food and accommodation are provided by SLC’.
“This decision has been taken for the sole benefit of Board members. Even when the host party bears the cost of the airfare, food and lodging, SLC officials still can claim the money as it was not provided by the Cricket Board. These are the tactics of the Ex-Co members to amass money from SLC coffers,” sources accused.
At the last meeting held in March 2022, another decision had been taken to increase the entertainment allowance from US$ 1,000 to US$ 2, 000 and a mobile telephone allowance of US$ 150 for each Ex-Co member when travelling abroad.
SLC’s decision to amend the per diem rate is totally against Finance Ministry Circular No: 01/2015/01 dated May 15, 2015; issued to minimise unnecessary expenses on foreign travel, combined allowances and incidental allowance paid to Ministers and Ministry Secretaries.
As per the said circular, Ministers and Ministry Secretaries were earlier entitled to a per diem of US$ 530 and an incidental allowance of US$ 75. This was further reduced by the President’s Secretary through Circular No: PS/CSA/00/1/4/8, dated March 15, 2023; slashing the rates by 30%. Hence the new per diem rate Ministers and Secretaries are eligible for is US$ 371.
“When the government has slashed the rates of their allowances, why can’t the Cricket Board follow these instructions? It is surprising why rates were increased during Covid 19; at a time the country was undergoing economic hardships in the backdrop of lack of foreign exchange. The Cricket Board is not a private institution, but a national sports body,” sources alleged.
Meanwhile, it is also reported how SLC has not paid the players amounts agreed upon for participating in the 2022 T20 preliminary series.
Who has bagged the balance of money
As reported, SLC has entered into an agreement with the players to pay them a sum of US$ 300,000 as ‘Ex-gratia Payment’. After the audit draft report was issued, SLC immediately paid the players a mere US$ 144,748 and not the promised US$ 300, 000.
“Who has bagged the balance money,” questioned the sources.
Further, SLC is accused of remitting US$ 20,000 (SLR 7.335 million) to Commonwealth Bank of Australia on December 14, 2022, to sponsor five players representing a ‘Sri Lanka Cricket Team’ that was contesting a World Cup Cricket Tournament for players over age 50.
As per a request made by a Sri Lankan in Australia, this money has been remitted to an account in Commonwealth Bank of Australia, but SLC has failed to provide details to the audit whether they knew that such an organizing committee exists in Australia and whether the request made to sponsor the players is genuine.
“This request was made to SLC via an e-mail on January 6, 2022, and surprisingly approvals have been granted the following day- January 7, 2022. Even though, the request was made in January and approvals were given regarding payment the very next day, why did SLC take more than 11 months to remit this money? Does SLC know when this tournament was held? As stated in the audit report this is unusual. This too has to be investigated,” sources said.
Courtesy of the Daily Mirror 07 11 2023