Extortion scandal rocks Sri Lanka Cricket
July 8, 2013

A major scandal shook Sri Lanka Cricket as a top cricket official was investigated last week for alleged extortion of money from Sri Lanka women’s cricketers.

Sri Lanka women’s cricket team manager A.R.M. Aroos admitted yesterday that he had accepted money from Sri Lanka women’s captain Shashikala Siriwardena but brushed it off as a goodwill gesture on her part some months back and questioned the motive of bringing the issue up after several months.

“She came with her husband and gave me some money. I have money and I didn’t take any serious note of it. But my question is why bring it up now. Sri Lanka women’s coach Harsha de Silva has drafted a letter and has asked her to implicate me. It was nothing serious” said Aroos and said the matter is now closed as the inquiry is completed.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) appointed retired police SSP Hema de Silva for an immediate inquiry after Siriwardena had made an official complaint on the issue to SLC acting Chief Executive Ashley de Silva last week. Aroos has been a prominent SLC official for nearly two decades and is also serving presently as a national selector for women’s cricket.

“We appointed a one-man inquiry committee to investigate some serious allegations. We will get the report in two days. Till then we cannot disclose anything” said de Silva.

The one-man committee concluded his inquiry yesterday and is due to submit a report today while SLC has summoned an urgent ex-co meeting tomorrow to discuss the report and take action on it.

Aroos said that Siriwardena and Sri Lanka star Lasith Malinga were chosen as brand ambassadors by the ICC for last year’s ICC World T20 tournament hosted by Sri Lanka. ICC had offered US $ 2500 to Siriwardena to act as the brand ambassador for the event, but SLC had negotiated successfully increase it to US $ 5000 which she had received in five monthly instalments prior to the ICC World T20 tournament held in September and October last year.

Aroos said that Siriwardena had volunteered to make a ten percent commission of her payment as she was happy that SLC had managed to get a hundred percent increase on her payment from ICC and he accepted it without giving much thought to it.

However, sources told “Daily Mirror” that Siriwardena in her written complaint had alleged that Aroos demanded a commission.

“There were several officials including SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga present when I once told her jokingly that she ought to give me a ten percent commission for getting an increase in her payment. She said that I actually deserved it and she wouldn’t mind giving me even a bigger commission. It was all in the spirit” said Aroos.

Aroos alleged that Siriwardena came up with her complaint several months after the actual incident as she was under the impression that he had been blocking a subsequent sponsorship deal she had struck with Sri Lanka national team sponsor Dialog for the want of another commission.

“Dialog wanted to sign a sponsorship agreement with five players. But Vanessa (women’s cricket co-ordinator Vanessa de Silva) told me that the players had to get permission from SLC to sign it. When I asked SLC head of marketing Vajira Dassanayake, he said that the players did not need such permission. So, I went with the players and signed the agreement. But later SLC CEO Ashley de Silva told me that players had to submit a letter to seek SLC permission for such a deal” Aroos said.

“However it is two months since they signed this agreement and nothing has happened. They were under the impression that I was stopping it. That is what happened. I gave my statement at the inquiry and it is all finished now” said Aroos.

According to sources, Siriwardena had alleged that Aroos also implicated former SLC Chief Executive Ajit Jayasekara saying that he needed to give a share to Jayasekara as well, but added that Aroos had denied it in his statement at the inquiry on Saturday.

Siriwardena was not available for comment yesterday.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka

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