News of the "alleged corruption which centres around a taped conversation" has spread in several media outlets locally and internationally after Sri Lanka Cricket issued a press released on Sunday to this effect.
The release states that the tape, which was given to a ‘Sri Lankan Newspaper’ and SLC, was handed over to an official of the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) for further investigation.
Daily Mirror exclusively reveals that it was the first to gain possession of the above mentioned tape prior to the launch of the SLPL.
The tape came into our possession when a source, who claimed to be a part of the conversation and closely connected to the SLPL, contacted the writers of the article titled “Shady SLPL Still Shrouded in Mystery” published on July 20 – which generated a fair amount of difference in opinion – last Tuesday (August 7) stating that he was in possession of this tape allegedly involving a team owner of the SLPL conspiring to fix games.
After deliberating if the story was worth the powder and shot, the writers chose to confer with the editors.
Afterwards it was decided not to publish the would-have-been expose, despite the temptation to publish what would have been a ground breaking revelation for Sri Lanka cricket, due to the difficulty in establishing the authenticity of the recording.
The tape contained a conversation almost entirely in Hindi and we acquired the services of a translator in order to verify its contents on Thursday August 9. We were told by our translator that it was clear that the conversation revolved around “bookies and fixing games”.
We informed Somerset Entertainment Ventures (SEV), the event’s organisers, about the recording as soon as details of the conversation were confirmed to us by our translator, the day before the launch of the SLPL. We did this on the insistence of our source who assured us that SEV "would recognise the voice."
We also informed SEV that we did not wish to publish the contents and requested them to visit our office together with a representative of SLC in order to listen to the tape. We were informed that the final meeting of the franchise holders and organisers was to take place that afternoon and they would visit the office as soon as the meeting was over.
Two high profile representatives from SEV and Sri Lanka Cricket visited our office upon the conclusion of the said meeting.
The tape was played in the presence of the writers and news editors and the two representatives of SEV and SLC. The conversation was inaudible at some parts except for a few words in English. The representative from SEV was from India and he listened to the entire conversation closely.
He confirmed that there was talk of throwing away matches for a certain sum and also said he suspects that he recognised the voice in the conversation, which corresponded with the name of the suspect that the Daily Mirror was provided with by the source.
Our stance was that the ICC anti corruption Unit was the best independent authority with the required resources to identify the authenticity of the recording and act accordingly. A copy of the recording was given to the gentlemen later that evening.
We urged them however to take necessary action against the suspected offenders and they ensured us that they would.
On August 10 we called both the SLC representative, who visited the office and heard the tape, and Secretary of SLC Nishantha Ranatunga in order to follow up on the progress of the issue brought to their notice. It was then confirmed by both gentlemen that the tape was given to the ICC anti-corruption unit for further investigation.
As soon as it was confirmed that SLC and the event organisers, SEV, took prompt action in dealing with the matter we decided that we would end it there.
However, after SLC issued the press release, which was picked up by many media outlets locally as well as internationally, we decided to state our account of the story that could have been the story of the year. We do so in the interest of the public. The story, if published leading to the launch of the SLPL, had the potential to create major repercussions to both the SLPL and Sri Lanka cricket at large. (Hafeel Farisz and Shehan Daniel)