Fake $ 5.5 m invoice to offshore account sent from SLC server

Fake $ 5.5 m invoice to offshore account sent from SLC server

  • SLC rules out that
  • CFO’s account was hacked Suspect believed to have altered top SLC officials’ emails in false invoice
  • SLC believes accountants’ signatures forged
  • CFO placed on compulsory leave, pending investigation

A fraudulent invoice for $ 5.5 million was sent from Sri Lanka Cricket’s internal servers to Sony Pictures Networks, an official said yesterday as new details emerged of the ongoing investigation over the attempt to embezzle broadcast revenue to an offshore account.

This information significantly weakens the argument of SLC’s Chief Financial Officer – the main suspect in the case – who over recent days has claimed his email was hacked.

“We have clear evidence that the mail was sent from our email server, that’s why we have handed it off to the cybercrime division of the CID. The main evidence we have points to the fact that it wasn’t a case of hacking,” revealed SLC IT Manager Nadeeshan Suriyaarichige at a media briefing.

Last week it was revealed that SLC had thwarted an attempt by its CFO to embezzle $ 5.5 million to an offshore bank account. The money was one of three tranches of payments from Sony Pictures Networks in relation to the broadcasting rights for England’s upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

“We receive the money for broadcast rights in three instalments, 50% before the tour starts, 25% when the tour starts and 25% when the tour ends,” explained SLC CEO Ashley De Silva.

“The invoice from the finance department was due to be copied to me, [SLC Chief Operating Officer] Jerome [Jayaratne], and a country Director from Sony, as well as a few others from Sony. After the first invoice was sent, I was copied in that. The suspect invoice however was not copied to us but our names were in the email.”

Indeed, in the email – which had asked Sony to send money to an offshore account in Hong Kong, which itself had been created a year earlier – De Silva and Jayaratne had been copied but with subtle alterations to their email addresses to avoid detection. Furthermore, the email was also revealed to have included a forged invoice.

“An invoice usually needs to be drafted by one accountant, it’s checked by another accountant and finally a third accountant authorises it. All three signatures are there in the fake invoice. When we checked with them they said they hadn’t done such a thing, claiming that the document was a forgery,” noted De Silva.

With this evidence in tow, SLC’s CFO – who SLC refuses to name until the completion of investigations – has been placed on compulsory leave, though the governing body said there was not enough evidence against the accountants to warrant replacing them. (Pic by Ruwan Walpola)