SLC Forensic Audit Report to be tabled in Parliament on October 23

Written by N Krishnamurthy

The much awaited forensic audit report of Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC), carrying alleged transactions frauds and irregularities by the top board officials, will be tabled in parliament during the next hearing of ongoing investigation of the Committee On Public Enterprises (COPE) on October 23rd, Cricket Age reliably learns.

COPE commenced it’s investigation on September 3rd and thus far have questioned SLC top administrators on various wrongdoings. In addition, the COPE has already suspended SLC so called Cricket Aid fundraising initiative, pending enquiry.

However, the top brass of SLC are unlikely to present on 23rd COPE hearing, as majority of administrators are already on overseas trips and are scheduled to return only in the second week of November.

The forensic audit conducted into the activities of Sri Lanka Cricket has revealed a number of financial irregularities that took place at the country’s cricket governing body. The forensic audit has revealed irregularities in allotment of broadcast rights. Suspicious transactions reportedly also include broadcast rights contracts for local matches.

The transactions, reportedly revealed in the SLC forensic audit, reportedly were in breach of a Cabinet memorandum on allotment of the broadcast rights.

A Cabinet memorandum of June 27, 2011 states that broadcasting rights of international cricket matches in Sri Lanka or overseas should be given to a State media institution, whereas any private TV or radio station dedicated solely to sports can only be given such rights following discussions.

According to forensic report details, Sri Lanka Cricket had not followed the necessary protocol or tender procedure when awarding broadcasting rights to local stations. It has also  been revealed that the Chief Operating Officer of SLC had made these transactions through his personal e-mail account and not via the official account.

Broadcasting rights for the 2018 Nidhahas Trophy had also been awarded without the approval of the management committee of Sri Lanka Cricket or the Executive Committee. It has also been observed the broadcasting rights of the Nidhahas Trophy had been awarded only 4 days prior to the commencement of the tournament.

Also although the tax invoice, released to obtain the funds for providing the broadcasting rights of the tournament, had been issued to a company by the name of VIS Broadcasting Pvt Ltd, the cheque which was issued (transferring the funds) had said it was issued by SKY Media Network.

The report also reveals that the SLC had maintained 15 bank accounts. Four of the 15 accounts were maintained by 2 private banking institutions, while the relevant authorities failed to ascertain when these accounts were opened and for what purpose. Of the 15 accounts, three savings accounts maintained by three private banking institutions and two current accounts are currently dormant.

The audit observations reveal that as per the evidence obtained through the SAGE accounting software at SLC, these bank accounts have been dormant for a period ranging from 2 years and 7 years and six months.

Though a request was made from SLC President Shammi de Silva on March 12th, 2019, to provide information regarding direct transactions of the respective bank accounts, the SLC had failed to submit information regarding 4 bank accounts for the forensic audit.

As per the audit observations, following an analysis of the email system at the institution, SLC authorities had also maintained accounts in foreign banking institutions.

The report includes details of an attempt to transfer to another account the second instalment due to SLC for the broadcasting rights of Sri Lanka’s tour of South Africa, which was a sum of US$ 436,541.

The email sent by the chief financial officer of SLC on July 4th at 9.42 a.m. to Sandeep Patel of SONY, with a copy mailed to the CEO of SLC Ashley de Silva directed the company to transfer the funds to the Bank account of SLC.

However, the email sent by the chief financial officer of SLC 8 days later, that is on July 12th at 9.16 a.m. to Sandeep Patel of SONY, with a copy mailed to the CEO of SLC Ashley de Silva directed the same company to transfer the funds to a Wells Fargo bank account.

The audit report further states that SLC officials had failed to provide the account numbers of the respective bank.

Although the head of finance at SLC Piyal Nandana Dissanayake and CEO of SLC Ashley de Silva rejected claims of an attempt made to transfer these funds to another account, through written statements provided on June 7th 2019 and May 8th 2018, the audit observations reveal otherwise.

The audit observations further reveal that the email correspondences had taken place via the official email addresses of the head of finance and CEO of SLC. This audit observation was confirmed through reports and evidence submitted by the Computer Emergency Readiness Team or the CERT.

This report further states that the head of finance at SLC, Piyal Nandana Dissanayake and its CEO Ashley de Silva had used an application named Mymail. The report from CERT stated that emails are not copied into the operations system when this specific application is used. According to CERT, a person cannot enter the account without verifying their identity or without using a password.

The observations of the audit officials also stated, there is no evidence to support that the CEO of SLC Ashley de Silva and the Chief Financial Officer at SLC Piyal Nandana Dissanayake were not aware of an attempt to transfer these funds to another account.

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N Krishnamurthy