Colombo Telegraph

Sri Lanka Cricket: Sports Minister Navin Breaks Own Rules For Nuski

Representatives of 68 Clubs and Associates of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) met at the Sinhalese Cricket Club yesterday, 25th April, and agreed to discuss with Navin Dissanayake the Minister of Sports, measures to resolve the crisis that prevails at its cricket headquarters.

Prior to this, Minister Dissanayake had officially given his blessings for the Annual General Meeting of SLC to be convened on the 30th of April 2015 but had a change of heart, after a booking fee of Rs 120,000 was paid to the Bandaranaike International Conference Hall (BMICH). The Minister subsequently went on to dissolve the existing Executive Committee and appointed an Interim Committee to look after SLC’s affairs.

Minister Navin with his Interim Committee president and vice president

Minister Dissanayake in late January 2015 called for a meeting with the Executive Committee of SLC on the 2nd of February 2015 and highlighted six key points, which he wanted implemented immediately.

The key points were as follows:

1. In Keeping with important and broadly accepted principles of good governance by a legitimately elected board all major operational and policy decisions should be made by the board and Mr. Jayantha Dharmadasa chairman of the board has the complete backing of the minister and the sports ministry. The minister was of the strong view that he will encourage teamwork and consensual decision making and adhere to the constitution of Sri Lanka Cricket.

2. As there is a new government in place and allegations of corruption in many institutions abound, the minister directed the secretary of the ministry, Mr. Rafeek, to employ the services of a Sri Lankan audit firm to complete a financial audit and submit their report in a month.

3. Eliminating conflict of interest between board members and SLC. Board members cannot employ relatives or promote them nor can they have any contracts that supply any services or goods to SLC.

4. The CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket Mr. Ashley De Silva will carry out his tasked duties of executing policy decisions made by the board. He will also represent SLC at the CEO conferences of the ICC.

5. Members of the board should not have direct communications with overseas cricket boards or individuals. All such contact and communication should be made by the Chairman’s office. All such communications should be shared with board members by the Chairman, Secretary and the CEO.

6. The immediate priority of the board will be the 2015 Cricket World Cup and the board will not incur unnecessary expenditure in this regard but will only engage in expenditure that is necessary for a successful World Cup campaign.

Politics and Sports should never go hand in hand, but when money comes into play at SLC, it has always been the Minister of Sports who has been at the forefront and the first to jump on the bandwagon. The signing of ‘Television Rights’ deals in the not too distant past has proven to be classic examples of this abuse.

But what now saddens the sport loving public of this country is the fact the current Minister of Sports Navin Dissanayake is running in circles even contradicting rules he himself has laid out.

Minister Dissanayake clearly went on to state and highlight the importance of good governance in his opening point. However what’s in question here is has he scrutinized the history and backgrounds of Nuski Mohamed and Jayananda Warnaweera when appointing them as Members of his handpicked Interim Committee?

Nuski Mohamed

Jayananda Warnaweera’s name was struck off the ICC list when honoring those affiliated to the sport during ICC’s centenary celebrations in 2009 during the time of Haroon Lorgat’s tenure. Warnaweera’s name along with Thilanga Sumathipala’s was struck off, leading to SLC officials to being questioned by the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as to why this had taken place. The explanation was simple. Sumathipala’s gaming related business and Warnaweera’s avoidance when contacted by ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit, for incidents relating to match fixing regarding cricket matches played at the Galle Cricket Stadium, where he is the curator were good enough reasons.

“I am not aware of Warnaweera’s alleged incident and I cannot comment on it. Please write these questions officially to me and I will answer them for you” said Minister Dissanayake over the phone during his conversation with Colombo Telegraph.

His third point for instance states that “there cannot be any conflict of interest by board members and Sri Lanka Cricket”.

Jayananda Warnaweera

The Minister of Sports Dissanayake also went on to say that the former Treasurer of Sri Lanka Cricket and his currently appointed Member of the Interim Committee Nuski Mohamed is not in violation of the country’s’ Sports Law, since he has resigned and transferred his shares from his family run business named ‘SVA Agencies’ where all its Directors were registered also as Directors of ‘Cricket Shop’ as well.

However it was common knowledge that millions were spent by SLC over a considerable period of time, to purchase cricket goods from the sports store named ‘Cricket Shop’ especially during the time Nuski Mohamed was the Treasurer of SLC.

Colombo Telegraph can reveal now that the following persons were originally registered as Directors of SVA Agencies and also Directors of Cricket Shop as of 26th March 2007:

Mohamed Nuski Mohamed of 3/16 Kynsey Road Colombo 8, Wickramaarachchige Nandasena Silva of DPG A Manning Tower Elvitigala Lane Colombo 8, Ahamed Shibly Vilcassim of 135/1 Galle Road Dehiwela and Rila Mohamedof 31, St.Anthony’s Mawatha Colomb 3.

The registered shareholders as of then comprised of Mohamed Nuski Mohamed, Wickramarachchige Nandasena Silva, Ahamed Shibly Vilcassim, Rila Mohamed, Rizan Mohamed, Sandra Gamage, Shamindra Vayanthi Gunasekara and ‘Cricket Shop’.

However Mohamed Nuski Mohamed resigned from his post of Director and transferred all his shares held at ‘SVA Agencie’s on the 2nd of January 2012.

As of 6th January 2015 ‘SVA Agencies’ records its Directors as follows: Ahamed Shibly Vilcassim, Mohamed Rila and Mohamed Shiyam Mohamed with the same residential address as provided by Mohamed Nuski Mohamed originally which reads 3/16 Kynsey Road Colombo 8.

Incidentally Mohamed Nuski Mohamed and Mohamed Shiyam Mohamed both share the identical residential address.

As a matter of fact Cricket Shop also does hold 150,001 shares of ‘SVA Agencies’.

The Gazetted Sport Law No 25 of 1973 of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (No 1793/3) and last updated on the 15th January 2013, clearly states in section 15 – (1) that “a person shall be disqualified from being elected or otherwise to hold or continue to hold any paid or unpaid office or to hold any paid or unpaid post or to be a member of a Committee of any National Association or to be a nominee of an affiliated club or organization in a National Association if:- (i) “he is directly or indirectly involved in the manufacture, assembly, production, sale or distribution of sports goods, gear any item or equipment relating or such sport”.

His fourth point also now goes into question as to why Nuski Mohamed who now is an ordinary Member of the Interim Committee was sent to Dubai for the ICC Director’s meeting.

Subsequently he never attended that meeting even though he set foot on Dubai soil, but it is quite reliably learned that he had had a meeting with officials of ‘Ten Sports’ in a private capacity. That meeting held at a private level and behind closed doors is now being looked into by the CEO of SLC, Ashley De Silva, after it was brought to his attention. De Silva when contacted by Colombo Telegraph went on to say “Nuski Mohamed was not authorized by the Interim Committee to hold any talks with any television rights personnel on this SLC paid trip”.

However the biggest question on every ardent cricket lovers mind is as to why the Treasurer of the so called ‘corrupt’ previous Executive Committee was retained and appointed to the Interim Committee by Minister Dissanayake, where if any ‘corrupt’ individual should be investigated it should have been the anyone who held the post of Treasurer of SLC. It is reported that Nuski Mohamed continues to occupy his former Treasurer’s office space at the cricket board headquarters even though he now holds an ordinary Member’s post in the Interim Committee. CEO Ashley De Silva when spoken to did not deny this fact.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s speech to commemorate the completion of the 100 day programme highlighted the fact of how the new government has strengthened international ties with countries such as England, India, Pakistan and China.

However what has left many bemused after this speech is that the international sporting ties the country holds with their overseas parent bodies is currently strained due to the political interference that is taking place under the guise of good governance.

The National Olympic Committee (NOC), Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) have all been warned of being sidelined by their governing bodies if political interference is to continue with their local member boards.

The ICC has already taken the stance of withholding monies due to SLC due this reason and banked such funds in an escrow account.

Following closely are other sports such as Football, Swimming and Badminton governing bodies as well.

The International Cricket Council, the parent body of SLC made no bones when the day to day operation of the cricket abode started to takes this current course.

It was not a surprise then to find an email from The CEO of the ICC David Richardson who appeared to be ‘miffed’ by the political interference that was taking place within its member’s board.

The regulations brought in by the ICC in 2012 clearly state the fact that their fellow member boards cannot be run by Interim Committees.

‘Interim’ which literally means a ‘short period’, could however go on forever in this country of ours which is a land like no other.

The ICC CEO David Richardson’s email to the former Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga on the day the Executive Committee was dissolved is found below.

From: David Richardson <David.Richardson@icc-cricket.com>
Date: March 31, 2015 at 2:05:17 PM GMT+5:30
To: Nishantha Ranatunga 1 <secretary@srilankacricket.lk>, “Nishantha Ranatunga 2” nishanthar2003@yahoo.com
Cc: “Jayantha Dharmadasa (Personal)” <jd1@slt.lk>, Iain Higgins <Iain.Higgins@icc-cricket.com>
Subject: Media reports

Dear Nishantha,

Apparent appointment of interim committee to run Sri Lanka Cricket

I note from reports in the media of today’s date that the government of Sri Lanka intends to form an interim committee to run the cricketing affairs of Sri Lanka Cricket.

Whilst we have no further or substantive information about the accuracy or otherwise of these media reports, I just wanted to flag with you the risk that such action could put Sri Lanka Cricket in breach of Article 2.9(B) of ICC’s Articles of Association which states as follows: ‘Where a government interferes in the administration of cricket by a Member, including but not limited to interference in operational matters, the selection and management of teams, the appointment of coaches or support personnel, the Executive Board shall have the power to suspend or refuse to recognize that Member…’.

Of course, a full and proper investigation would need to be carried out, but any unjustified interference might expose Sri Lanka Cricket to the possibility of having its membership suspended by the ICC Board, which would have considerably damaging consequences, including the loss of the right for Sri Lanka Cricket to participate in ICC’s global events.

I very much hope that Sri Lanka Cricket and the government of Sri Lanka will be able to resolve any issues that they might have in a mutually agreeable fashion and look forward to receiving your update on what exactly has occurred or is transpiring.

If you have any questions about this letter or would like our further assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me or the ICC’s General Counsel, Iain Higgins (iain.higgins@icc-cricket.com).

With kind regards,
David Richardson
Chief Executive
International Cricket Council
Tel: +971 4 3828800 DD: +971 4 3828801
Mob: +971 50 6401214 Fax: +971 4 3828600
Sh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road,
Dubai Sports City, Street 69
PO Box 500070, Dubai, UAE
www.icc-cricket.com

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