Cricket Age Exclusive
In October last year, then Sports Minister Harin Fernando achieved a miraculous feat by banning former Sri Lanka Cricket Board President Thilanga Sumathipala over his involvement in betting and gambling through Sporting Star, who was acting as Immediate Past President at that time. For decades, Sumathipala remained as the undisputed king of SLC. Harin Fernando, most courageous, transparent, active and result oriented Sports Minister in the Island’s history, however, managed to erase Sumathipala from the Cricket scenario, with the support of International Cricket Council (ICC). However, with his never ending greed for power at Maitland Place, Sumathipala is trying to make yet another comeback, in the changed political dynamics of the country. Harin Fernando, however though not a Sports Minister now, is not ready to let all his mountainous efforts get wasted.
On January 7, Harin held a press conference and explained everything in brief, why he had to ban Sumathipala.
According to Sports Ministry insiders, the decision to ban Sumathipala was taken based on a 900 pages comprehensive report against him, that justifys the move.
Most importantly, a 12 page ICC report proves that Sumathipala was actively involved in betting and gambling, while being in the SLC setup.
These are all important points, have been mentioned in the 12 page ICC report:
The Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) of the ICC initially contacted Glyn Palmer(GP), UK national, having identified him as a potential witness in a live investigation. At first he declined to share material with the ACU, but later contacted the ACU alleging he had evidence of corruption in SLC. The information ACU hold relates to claims and associated documents which concern the betting industry and alleged corruption
Glyn Palmer (GP) is a former senior manager in bookmaking businesses in the UK. For many years he says he worked for Thilanga Sumathipala (TS) as his adviser in setting up Sporting Star a bookmaking business. Palmer says he stopped working for TS in 2009 and since then has been paid 1000 GBP a month which he says is a pension.
A number of documents have been photographed by the ICC but Palmer retains the originals.
On Monday 8th July 2019, the ICC met with GP at his property in the United Kingdom in pursuance of ACU investigations into corruption in Cricket. The purpose of the meeting was to conduct a scoping of the material and evidence that he possesses which he claimed related to corruption in SLC and financial irregularity. The meeting was recorded and the ICC has a transcript of it.
GP described his history with UK regulated bookmakers, particularly Ladbrokes. He said he was at one point a senior manager responsible for large parts of the UK, his expertise was in growing the business which he claimed made him ideal for TS purposes in setting up a bookmaking business.
GP stated the events started because many years ago TS sent an individual called Karunaratne to the UK to buy equipment for setting up bookmakers, this ultimately led to GP and TS meeting when TS was 21 years old. From that they became friends and GP travelled to Sri Lanka 2 or 3 times a year to help with the business. As the relationship progressed it is clear that GP was used to move irregular payments, that GP describes as bribes, through his accounts or companies in the UK.
Over a number of years there are 3 accounts that this scoping has identified were used;
1. GP personal account with Midland bank account no 71220470
2. GP HSBC business account 01826867
3. Euro Com link. UK registered company with GP and TS shown as Directors.
GP claimed that in 1997 the TV rights for Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) were sold to Mark Mascarenas (now deceased) and his company World tel Inc. GP claimed that a 100,000 USD bribe was paid to TS for these rights. GP supplied a copy of a cheque for 50,000 USD from World tel to him and a paying in slip along with his bank statement and a letter confirming the credit into his personal account with the Midland bank. GP says he facilitated this for TS.
Bank statements provided by GP showed 3 further payments totalling 35,750 USD paid into the same account. GP says that TS did not personally benefit from the money paid into the account, it was used to pay bills associated with Sporting Star activity, such as the provision of runners and riders and event information which was initially given down a phone line from a betting shop in Wales enabling Sporting Star to operate real time betting. The same service was later provided by a company called SIS.
In the 12 page report, GP also talked about an individual he called ‘Tanga’, this individual made a number of cash payments into the HSBC account. He described how money was paid into HSBC after funds were paid to a contact in Sri Lanka and then transferred in a way similar to the Hawala system used in the sub-continent. Copies of some bank statements from the HSBC account were provided showing substantial payments. The purpose of these transactions were (according to GP) to evade currency controls in Sri Lanka at the time.
In the report, GP said that Euro Com link is the UK company set up to facilitate UK payments for Sporting Star. GP said that TS and GP were Directors, in May 2004, GP provided a letter as the company secretary to a Lloyds TSB bank manager in connection with TS application for a mortgage. The letter states that TS is the Managing Director of the Company earning 150,000 GBP per year. GP says that TS did not take a salary from the business and that the information in the letter is false. GP says the mortgage related to a property at 104 Olyffe Avenue, Kent.
GP says that he was frequently asked to run errands for TS. He said that on 13th December 2002 on the instructions of TS, GP travelled from Bristol to London, collected 40,000 GBP in 20 pound notes from an HSBC in Queensway and delivered it to ‘Tanga’, who at that time was using a mobile 07768 005960. The handover took place in a car in Wimbledon and he then returned to Bristol. GP made notes regarding this transaction and he allowed them to be photographed.
As well as being an adviser in setting up and growing Sporting Star, GP says he has been a facilitator for hiding and moving illegal payments including relating to TV rights deals.
In the report, the ACU also mentioned that Some of the allegations made by GP may constitute evidence of serious criminal offences in Sri Lanka. The ACU requested Sports Ministry to review these aspects and consider passing such evidence to the relevant law enforcement agencies in Sri Lanka.
(Note: The ACU has mentioned Thilanga Sumathipala as TS and Glyn Palmer as GP in its report)