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US$ 187,000 heist at SLC angers Foreign Minister

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Mohamad Ali Sabry

by Rex Clementine

One of major financial frauds at Sri Lanka Cricket has drawn the attention of Foreign Minister Mohamad Ali Sabry (PC), who has been appointed as the Chairman of the Ministerial Sub-Committee for Cricket by President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

In 2018, a sum of US$ 187,000 that Sony Pictures, the right holders of SLC, owed the board had been transferred to an offshore account in Hong Kong on the instructions of SLC.

The money was later wired to another account in Mexico and SLC officials claimed that their IT services had been hacked. However, SLC Head of IT denied that their system had been compromised.

Although SLC’s Head of Finance was suspended at that point, the case was closed after some months as there were no breakthroughs.

The board would have suffered massive financial losses as there was another attempt to transfer a sum of US$ 5.56 million to the same offshore account but was saved in the nick of time thanks to a vigilant employee of SLC.

The Foreign Minister had been meeting several stakeholders of the sport in the last two weeks as the government is attempting to find a way out of the suspension imposed by the International Cricket Council.

Following a complaint by SLC’s Executive Committee after an Interim Committee had been appointed to run the board, the ICC suspended SLC and shifted the next month’s Under-19 World Cup from Colombo to Johannesburg.

Sacked Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe had also exposed several other corrupt deals at SLC, but the board has countered those allegations.

SLC boss Shammi Silva is under heavy fire after intense criticism from the general public for the way he has run the cricket board. While there are allegations of mass scale corruption, the performances of the national cricket team has also hit an all-time low. Sri Lanka finished the recent ICC World Cup ninth, their worst performance since 1999 and failed to qualify for the Champions Trophy.

Shammi Silva, however, has denied claims that cricket standards have hit new lows and has pointed out that under his watch, the national cricket team won the Asia Cup last year in UAE.

Last month SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva, one of the most respected figures in cricket circles, stepped down following intense criticism at the way the board has managed cricket affairs.

The government has promised to address the cricketing debacle despite sacking the Sports Minister. It is said that the government is waiting for this week’s court ruling on the appointment of the Interim Committee before sanctioning its next move.

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