By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
The parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) yesterday said it would refer the information it had collected from its probe into the discrepancies with regards to Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) awarding of international broadcasting rights, to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Members of the Executive Committee of SLC were yesterday called up for a second time by COPE and questioned for around three hours.
“The discrepancies revealed to COPE involves a large amount of funds so we will have to refer the information to the CID to take further action,” Handunetti told the SLC officials, who had agreed to this step and offered its fullest support to the CID.
It was revealed that a television broadcasting rights agreement reached with the Taj Television network had resulted in a loss of US$ 18.2 million dollars.
Handunetti also claimed that a directive issued by former sports minister Navin Dissanayake regarding the awarding of the television broadcasting rights, had been wrongfully used for the awarding of radio broadcasting rights.
It was also revealed that SLC has maintained accounts in several overseas banks including the United States and Australia, some of which the SLC officials said had been opened and maintained during the period that a competent authority was running the affairs of SLC. Some accounts, it was revealed, were not authorized by SLC.
“The issue here is that there is no one who can take responsibility for opening and maintaining these accounts” Handunetti responded.
This exchange was after SLC officials had said that the treasurer’s approval was not necessary for overseas transfers – a response to a line of questioning regarding how SLC had undertaken overseas transactions without the treasurer’s signature. The SLC officials responded saying that such transactions only required the approval of two directors but this statement was shot down by Auditor General, who said that it could not accept this explanation as the treasurer’s signature was necessary.
It was further revealed that some individuals have corresponded on behalf of SLC by maintaining online domains, though it was not clear if this was from within SLC or by outside forces.
Member of COPE Harsha de Silva said there had been a network of various persons who have used SLC to engage in various activities.
“I won’t accuse any individual for this but just want to highlight that even the Directors of SriLankan Airlines gave the same excuse saying they were not in the board when corruption took place,” he said.
There had also been a questionable transaction, it was also revealed, where SLC had paid the Malwathu Chapter a sum of Rs. 50 million for the lease of a plot of land owned by the Chapter, although it had previously agreed that a sum of Rs. 26.25 million should be paid for the land.
Handunetti also revealed that COPE would come up with a special report on Cricket Aid.