Lanka Sports Minister order probe into Nimbus deal

Colombo, Jan 14 (PTI) Sri Lankan Sports Minister,Mahindananda Aluthgamage has ordered a probe into thecontroversial Nimbus deal that had rocked the country''scricketing circles, besides costing SLC a a huge amount ofmoney.

A three-member committee has been appointed forinvestigating the matter thoroughly.

The committee is headed by the former Supreme Court judgeJagath Balapatabendi and also includes secretary of the Powerand Energy Ministry, M M C Ferdinando and North CentralProvincial Council official W A Tissera.

"There is a lot of speculation and allegations goinground about this issue. So I decided that it is best toappoint a high powered committee with respected officials toinvestigate the matter and get to the bottom of it," theminister told ''Daily Mirror'' newspaper yesterday.

"My predecessor Minister C B Ratnayake had promised theParliamentary Consultative Committee of the Sports Ministrythat he would appoint a committee to probe the deal, afterseveral MPs had raised concern about the issue.

"When I met them for the first time, they asked me whathad happened to the promise. So, I immediately decided toappoint a committee mainly because it will provide the accusedpeople a chance to clear their names," Aluthgamage added.

Nimbus, an Indian based media and entertainment company,was involved in an arbitration battle last year with the SLCfor defaulting a payment of USD 3.6 million.

However, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had come to a settlementwith the company after accepting a lower figure than what wasdue.

SLC filed arbitration proceedings against Nimbus when thecompany failed to honour a payment that was due for securingrights of India''s ODI series against Sri Lanka, played inFebruary 2009.

The deal was signed on January 21, 2009 between SLC andNimbus when the former was controlled by a one-man CompetentAuthority, Sports Ministry secretary S Liyanagama, appointedby the then Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge.

The TV rights deal was struck for an amount of USD 6million, which was considered by many as a much below figurethat could have been raised, as the experts thought that thehigh-profile series could have been worth as much as USD 15million. .

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