DUBAI - The independent adjudicator appointed by the ICC has cleared Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat of alleged involvement in the FTP manipulation charges levelled against the BCCI by his one-time legal adviser at the world body.
David Becker, who was the ICC legal adviser throughout Lorgat's tenure as CEO of the world body, had last year issued a statement suggesting that the BCCI's flouting of the FTP could have legal implications and that it was "improper" to allow a member body to "blatantly disregard an ICC resolution".
In his October 2013 statement, Becker, also a former legal adviser of Cricket South Africa, had said that he had resigned from his ICC post because of what he considered "questionable governance" at the ICC and listed three examples, all relating to the "dominance of BCCI President N Srinivasan".
Lorgat was accused by the BCCI of having the knowledge of Becker's statement and, in fact, of its preparation, prompting the ICC to commission an inquiry into his role in that statement. The controversy had also threatened to derail India's tour of South Africa December last. BCCI had agreed to a shortened tour only after the CSA agreed to bar Lorgat from dealing with matters related to India and from attending ICC Executive Meetings as CSA representative.
The adjudicator, in a joint statement issued by the ICC and CSA, said that there was "no evidence to support the allegations made against Lorgat". As a result, any restrictions on Lorgat's ability to act as CSA chief executive were removed. He can now resume acting as CSA's representative on the ICC Chief Executive's Committee and deal with affairs involving the BCCI.
"An independent Adjudicator, appointed by the ICC to look into the content and distribution of media comments made about ICC Board by David Becker, who at that time was acting as a legal consultant to CSA in respect of their ongoing dispute over FTP Schedule, and the subsequent attempts to have them withdrawn, and, in particular, role of Haroon Lorgat, CEO of CSA, in these matters has found no evidence to support the allegations made against Lorgat," the statement said.
The independent adjudicator also exonerated Lorgat of the charge that he had allegedly tried to bribe and threaten journalists.
"The Terms of Reference of the Inquiry provided that the allegations the Adjudicator was to inquire into were whether: (i) Mr Lorgat knew about the David Becker media statement and its contents prior to or at the time of its initial distribution," the ICC and CSA statement said.
"(ii). Mr Lorgat was involved in the preparation of the David Becker media statement; and (iii) Mr Lorgat attempted to persuade a number of different journalists on separate occasions to delay and/or withdraw the story/David Becker media statement by offering to do something for them in return, allegedly bribing and eventually threatening the journalists," it said.
The adjudicator ruled that any restrictions on Lorgat's ability to perform his role as CEO of CSA should be immediately removed. "This includes, but is not limited to: a) restrictions on Lorgat's ability to represent CSA at ICC's Chief Executives' Committee; and b) restrictions on Lorgat's communications with or involvement in matters related to the BCCI.
"As a consequence of Adjudicator's Report, Lorgat's role as Chief Executive of CSA is fully restored," the statement added. Commenting on the Adjudicator's decision, ICC President Alan Isaac said, "The ICC notes and accepts the decision of the independent Adjudicator. We are pleased that the matter has been resolved and that all parties can now move on in a spirit of mutual cooperation, working together constructively for the good of cricket."
Reacting to the development, Lorgat said, "With this unsavoury matter now behind us I look forward to getting on with the real challenges that we need to deal with. "It was a costly but necessary exercise once the allegations were made. I am pleased it is now behind us and I must thank my Board for their unequivocal support plus the many other people, including members of the public, who stood firm with me during this period." he said in a separate CSA statement.
CSA welcomed the independent adjudicator's findings, saying that the report fully exonerates Lorgat from all or any blame in relation to the allegations made against him. CSA President Chris Nenzani said Lorgat will immediately be restored with his full powers.
"We are satisfied that this matter has been properly investigated and resolved. As a consequence of the Adjudicator's findings, CSA has no hesitation in immediately lifting the previous restrictions placed on Mr Lorgat in his role as Chief Executive of CSA," he said. "This is as clear as it gets and vindicates CSA and Lorgat's determination that the investigation be properly concluded following recent offers to drop the investigation. It is only fair and just for both CSA and to Lorgat that the process was properly concluded," Nenzani said.
The CSA chief said since all the allegations against Lorgat have been dismissed, his Board would reiterate its full trust and confidence in Lorgat as its Chief Executive. "To date the Board has been satisfied and indeed impressed with the progress made under his leadership," he said.
"It is also clear that allegations and insinuations made against Lorgat by certain journalists were unprofessional and do not fall within the bounds of fair or justifiable comment. I hope these individuals or their organisations will now have the courage to issue an apology to both Lorgat and CSA."