Ranjan to take on corruption at SLC

Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake yesterday claimed he had been questioned by Anti-Corruption officials of the International Cricket Council as part of its investigations into allegations of corruption in Sri Lanka. 

Ramanayake said that following comments he made exclusively to the Daily Mirror on March 16 – that he was prepared to disclose allegations of corruption at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in
parliament – he had been contacted by officials of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of the International Cricket Council (ICC). 

“Two officials from the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit, including Alex Marshall (ICC’s General Manager – ACU) met me and I disclosed everything I knew,” the Deputy Minister of Social Empowerment and Social Welfare told the media at a briefing at his residence, adding that the investigation was a humiliation for Sri Lanka’s cricket. “The investigation by the ICC is a humiliation for Sri Lanka’s cricket as this kind of thing has not taken place in other countries.” 

He said however, that due to the ongoing nature of the investigations, that he could not disclose what was discussed with the ICC ACU officials. 

In September last year, the ICC issued a press release that stated it had “initiated investigations in Sri Lanka” and its Anti-Corruption Unit had visited the country. 

This followed allegations, including of match-fixing, made by former fast-bowler Pramodya Wickremesinghe to a private TV station, although the ICC did not confirm if its investigation had been initiated as a result of Wickcremesinghe’s comments. 

In January this year, responding to questions over the status of the ICC investigations, SLC, said that the ICC had cleared them of any wrongdoing – a statement that was quickly debunked by the ICC, who said the “investigations are ongoing”, as reported by media.

 An actor-turned-politician, Ramanayake’s on-screen personas as an actor have often revolved around characters fighting crime and corruption, but he has now seemingly taken on a similar role as a politician, casting his eyes on cleaning up what he alleged was a corrupt cricket administration led by incumbent President Thilanga Sumathipala. 

Ramanayake also said that he would take the initiative in cleaning up the sport by furnishing documents of purported corruption to the FCID, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the near future. 

Sumathipala last week confirmed that he would seek a second term as President of SLC when it conducts its elections on May 19. 

“Former cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan in a recent interview with an Indian newspaper said that cricket in Sri Lanka was in shambles today because it was being governed by politicians who have no knowledge on sports,” Ramanayake said. “I agree with those remarks.” 

“Thilanga (Sumathipala) has no right to run for the SLC Presidency, according to a circular (the Sports Law, No. 25 of 1973) which outlines the requirements anyone who wants to contest for the post must fulfill. (Under those who would be deemed ineligible) One clause states that any one who ‘...two years prior to the submission of nominations, functioned as professional journalist attached to any media organization as a paid employee or as a freelance journalist in electronic or print media or who is an owner or beneficial owner or co-owner or a major shareholder of a media organization’ cannot contest. As far as I know, he owns a private media organization,” he claimed.

“There are two other clauses (which would make Sumathipala ineligible for the SLC Presidency). They state that an individual who has ‘four years prior to the submission of nominations, been engaged in selling or supplying sports goods, sports gear or any item or equipment relating to such Sport to such National Association of Sports…’, and if ‘he is directly or indirectly involved in carrying out the business of gaming, betting or wagering’, he is ineligible to contest. Didn’t the former Sports Minister know all this?,” Ramanayake questioned. 

Ramanayake levelled several allegations against the SLC administration, including corruption, sexual harassment and abuse of cricket board funds, also claiming that a top SLC official had tried to bribe him in an attempt to stop the disclosure of information of corruption.

 Those allegations, some of which have already been reported in mainstream media, also included what Ramanayake claimed was an ‘insurance scam’ where Honorary Executive Committee members were given life insurances policies valued exorbitantly. 

“SLC had paid two prominent music artistes Rs. 1.4 million for the composing of a song, and paid journalists of several media institutions for articles and given them foreign tours,” Ramanayake also claimed. “They had paid a monk Rs. 25 million for a land to develop a cricket university, but has the university been constructed?” 

“This is public money that is being abused, and they are robbing people’s happiness when it comes to cricket,” Ramanayake also alleged. 

“Lasith Malinga was victimized. Malinga sent an SMS to (former Sports Minister) Dayasiri Jayasekara asking him for an appointment but the Minister had replied in a rude manner,” Ramanayake claimed. “We all saw how Susanthika (Jayasinghe) was humiliated.” 

Ramanayake said he was prepared to debate these allegations publicly with Sumathipala, if it would also give former players the platform to openly discuss the issues faced in Sri Lankan cricket.      (Yohan Perera and Shehan Daniel)