Several top former officials of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) including Presidents Upali and Jayantha Dharmadasa and Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga have come under criticism from the three member panel that inquired on the allegations of corruption at SLC from January 2012 to April 2015.
These officials have been accused of conflict of interest by the committee as they had been holding office in SLC when private companies in which they had interests had been involved in various business deals with SLC.
“We find it reprehensible that contracts running to over Rs. 25 millIon were awarded to a private business enterprise of the President of the SLC outside the accepted tender procedure” stated the committee report.
“The SLC President Mr. Upali Dharmadasa who held office until the present Interim Committee was appointed in April 2015 admitted before us that a company owned by him, namely Nawaloka Piling (Pvt) Ltd., carried out construction contracts for SLC while he was the President outside the required tender procedure. Mr Upali Dharmadasa stressed before us that his company did not charge for the piling component for the said contract which has also been stated to the CEO of SLC in a letter dated 14 August 2012” stated the report.
But in the same paragraph, the report adds “However the said letter contains a notation made by Mr Upali Dharmadasa himself calling for a 60% advance”
“We have studied the documentation pertaining to the aforesaid contracts by Nawaloka Piling (Pvt) Ltd., and find that the entire bill inclusive of Rupees Three Million Five Hundred and Seventy Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Forty (Rs. 3,577,440/-) in respect of piling for corporate boxes has been paid in full by SLC” added the report.
The committee went onto stress further on the much publicized SLC-CSN domestic Television rights deal to establish that they believed Ranatunga had a conflict of interest as he was holding office in both parties.
Report goes on to explain their judgement as stated below;
“Mr Ranatunga, has stated in the memorandum furnished to us, inter alia, that the award of local terrestrial rights for a period of 3 years to CSN for the international matches played in Sri Lanka, was decided on by the Sponsorship Committee of SLC (as per the SLC constitution), who had called for bids by way of newspaper advertisements as aforesaid and also via SLC’s official website. The only bid which was from CSN had been evaluated and submitted as a recommendation to the Executive Committee for approval, during which process, he had withdrawn from the ExCo meeting citing a conflict of interest. - The recommendation to award the contract to CSN had been made by Mr Nuski Mohammed - Secretary of Sponsorship Committee, who was at that time the SLC Treasurer. We were further informed by Mr Ranatunga that CSN’s bid of Rs 125 Million was for 3 years (i.e. 91 days of cricket broadcasting according to the prevalent FTP) whereas in the previous 3 years, Rupavahini had, paid SLC. Rs. 81 Million for 101 days of cricket.
The 2 Interim Report of COPE dated 14 November 2014, contain observations on major transactions of SLC with inadequate accountability and concludes that the granting of local rights was not transparent.
We have considered this matter carefully and have noted that due to the enormous influence wielded at the time by Mr Nishantha Ranatunga as the Secretary SLC, it was a redundant act of vacating his seat merely during the discussion and decision of the particular item on the Agenda. Our opinion is fortified by the placement of a non prominent advertisement which was sought to be remedied by a further advertisement a week later. The second advertisement was largely a reproduction of the text of the previous advertisement and we are satisfied that prominent publicity was denied to the advertisement of broadcast rights. Further we are of the opinion that the attention of those interested in the subject of broadcast rights would not ordinarily have been drawn to the area of interest by the advertisements published”.
The committee agrees that the CSN deal was favourable to SLC, but states that it does not alter the case of conflict of interest.
“We therefore conclude that the Honorary Secretary of SLC Mr Nishantha Ranatunga, had a conflict of-interest in CSN being granted the above telecast rights. The fact that CSN bid was financially favourable to SLC, does not ipso facto, justify the grant of the above rights to CSN vis-a-vis the conflict of interest discussed above” added the report. While investigating whether a transparent and acceptable procedure had been followed in obtaining sponsorships for SLC, the committee found the alleged case of conflict of interest against former SLC President Jayantha Dharmadasa.
“We have heard several persons from the Sponsorship Committee as well as those outside it who did not advert us to particular instances where transparent and acceptable procedures had been disregarded in obtaining SLC sponsorships” said the report.
“However, we observed from the documentation provided by SLC that Nawaloka Hospitals PLC was offered the Official Health Care Partner contract on 1 September 2014 at a total minimum guaranteed amount of Rupees One Million (Rs 1,000,000/-) plus taxes per annum for a period of three years. It is seen from Audit Query No LS/A/SLC/2014/AQ/01 dated 22nd February 2015, that Hemas Hospital (Pvt) Ltd, too had submitted the same bid of Rs 1,000,000/- and that SLC had awarded the contract to Nawaloka without obtaining a TEC Report. We denounce this award of partnership contract to an entity whose Chairman was also the President of SLC” added the report. (Channaka de Silva)