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Sumathipala can be tried in court based on ICC anti-corruption report – Harin

If findings by the International Cricket Council (ICC) against State Minister Thilanga Sumathipala are presented before the courts, he can be tried using provisions in the recently passed bill against corruption in sports, opposition MP Harin Fernando said.

Fernando, who as Sports Minister in the previous government was instrumental in passing the bill late last year, told reporters today that the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit had presented to him a report of its investigation on Sumathipala and his links to betting.

The ICC report reveals how Sumathipala had sought the advice of British national Glyn Palmer who was a former senior manager in bookmaking businesses in the UK in setting up Sporting Star betting centre in Sri Lanka, said Fernando.

The report also reveals, he said, all the bank accounts maintained by the individuals concerned and the key transactions made between them in setting up the company. According to Fernando, Palmer had made a statement to the ACU alleging that Worldtel Inc had offered Sumathipala a USD 100,000 bribe for the broadcasting rights of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in 1997.

A copy of the report shared by Fernando shows that Palmer and Sumathipala had registered a company in the UK by the name of Euro Comlink in which both were named as directors.

A letter written to a bank in the UK in connection to a mortgage application of Sumathipala in 2004, with Palmer appearing as the secretary of the company, states that Sumathiapala is the Managing Director of the company earning a salary of GBP 150,000. According to Palmer, however, as per the report, this was a false letter as Sumathipala did not take a salary from the company.

Fernando went on to say that based on the ICC report, the Sports Ministry had prepared its own report of about 900 pages against Sumathiapala.

The UPFA MP, who is now State Minister of Technology, has filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal seeking the removal of a ban imposed on him from holding any position in Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

MP Fernando said that according to a Right to Information (RTI) application obtained from the Inland Revenue Department, the Sporting Star betting company is registered under U W J P H Sumathipala who is Thilanga’s brother.

Since the new sports law was drafted incorporating some ICC regulations relating to appointments to cricket boards, said Fernando, Sumathipala cannot hold a post in SLC as he has a direct or indirect connection to gambling given his brother’s ownership of Sporting Star.

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Sumathipala, along with former national coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and former SLC Performance Analyst Sanath Jayasuriya, meanwhile, have filed cases against Fernando in the Swiss Arbitration Courts seeking compensation, the UNP MP said. Jayasuriya had been charged under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code for trying to bribe Fernando when he was Sports Minister.

All these cases were filled after 16 November following his resignation from all ministerial portfolios which, Fernando said, points to some sort of conspiracy behind the cases.

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