Catch me if you can – the Lankan version
A fortnight ago, I began my Sunday Musings, discussing the wisdom of the elders with the focal point being former National Cricket Captain Michael Tissera. During my discussion with him, he brought out a very salient point. He stressed that a forensic audit should be done at Sri Lanka Cricket, to probe the ‘ins and outs’ of the financial and other dealings, taking into considerations the number of ‘no-balls’ the authorities have bowled during this period.
Yes, the silver hairs are not presented; you have to earn each one of them. Like how the probing eyes of Tissera visualised, now the SLC defences are slit opened with the $ 5.5 million heist that nearly became a reality, and the grey hairs had spoken.
It is a typical case of falling standards and a system that is running on wrong signals. When a system begins to run on wrong signals, you begin to derail your ethics and see the light at the end of the wrong tunnel.
We were discussing the development with some people who were within the system and holding key positions in the last executive committee, especially what transpired during the SLC media conference.
Here are some highlights:
n The money was to be deposited in an offshore account in Hong Kong with tentacles running to a branch in Mexico, but SLC does not have any offshore accounts in Hong Kong or, any other country.
n Both SLC CEO Ashley de Silva and COO Jerome Jayaratne are career cricketers and the tradition is running in their veins. It is hard to believe that they would be a part of the mischief under any circumstances.
n The monies — the dues from the Sony television deal with regard to the upcoming England tour — could only be deposited in the SLC account direct and there is no other way that the money could be taken to Hong Kong and deposited there, as it is a direct transaction, unless there is inside infiltration.
n Now the Present custodians of the SLC say that they would unveil the real culprit/culprits without delay.
n Now, as is thought, the SLC’s Finance Manager in question has not acted on his own. Someone with influence has, most probably, been behind the episode and that aspect still has not been rooted out.
Yet, we at this end feel, this whole episode was initiated long before this particular individual allegedly decided to transship this wagon load of cash.
There was another volunteer who came with their side of the translation and he transcribed how things happened during the pre-Wettimuny period.
He said, “When we ran the previous elected administration, we ran things in the proper manner and there were no incidents of this nature. We had a competent head of Finance in Ms Chandramali Korale. She was strict and stern and sometimes a pain where it matters. When she was in charge, the Finance division ran the way it should. At the same time, there was also another female employee who was almost a pioneer of the SLC financial system, with about 15-20 year’s experience. Both these ladies were systematically got rid of by those who took over the SLC after us. Then, there was a male employee in the Finance division, who was also given the marching orders. Gradually, they got rid of the finance core group.
“Then the new administration allegedly started filling these positions with Sumathipala acolytes. The new entrants needed some per-requisites. Anyone joining the SLC had to be either from Sumathipala’s School, the family company or the club. In short, people who could be controlled.”
The pre-Wettimuny Ex-Co member asked, “How can Shammi Silva become the Treasurer? During our time, one had to be a “Charted Accountant” to hold that position but, with the support of former Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, the qualifications were altered to suit Shammi Silva.”
He said that once the Ex-Co got rid of Chandramali Korale, even the monthly financial progress meetings were stopped. “Every month, the Finance Committee and the Ex-Co met and discussed matters. Now, for more than one year, this practice has ceased, after Chandramali left and the accounts have not been tabled. That is why I say there should be a forensic audit to probe what really transpired financially at the SLC during the past two years.”
Then he pointed the finger at the present Sports Minister, too. He accused the minister of making various ruses and holding on to power at SLC. “If there had been an Interim Committee, there would have been someone in charge of finances and then, there would nott be any opportunity for anyone to hoodwink the company or, even think of doing that,” he said.
All in all, what we could only learn from this experience is that, what we have seen are the two bails but the stumps are yet to be exposed. On the whole, what we could see is the scant disregard for proper governance.
The first move of the Sumathipala administration was to halt all the projects initiated by the Sidath Wettimuny-led interim committee. Now, like a bad dream from a bygone era, the scars of that destruction are still visible. The skeleton of an aborted swimming pool looks like a crater, while others look like ghost buildings.
Just see the opportunity cost of the land that is wasted. Then, what about the Rs. 40 million that was spent and aborted. According to Sidath Wettimuny, the construction of the facilities was launched because it was the players who requested them.
Then, on another note…, there was the huge scandal that surfaced about a local match fixing incident during a club tournament. The case was probed, the culprits were found but, no one was punished.
Then, there was the accusation that some members of the SLC Ex-Co, who are supposed to be engaged in voluntary work, were misusing company vehicles. Nothing transpired.
Occurrences of this nature give wings to the crooked owl to make itself more assured that the said administration condones dishonesty. Then when the situation is conducive, the crooks would try their luck at the jackpot which was within their grasp.