The Weekend Leader - Suspended ICC CEO seeks a neutral ethics tribunal to judge his case

Suspended ICC CEO seeks a neutral ethics tribunal to judge his case

New Delhi

07-July-2021

Photo: IANS

In a seemingly last ditch attempt, suspended International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO Manu Sawhney on Wednesday requested the ICC Executive Board members to "uphold the basic principles of the ICC -- accountability, fairness, and integrity" -- and appoint an "independent ethics tribunal" to hear his case.

Sawhney's appeal, incidentally, comes just a day before ICC has convened an emergency Executive Board meeting on Thursday, probably to take a decision in his case, said a source. However, Sawhney, who was suspended on March 9 for alleged indecent behaviour towards his colleagues, has "grave doubts over whether my case has even been presented to the Board, whether accurately, or at all".

"Clearly, it is inappropriate for the ICC chairman [Greg Barclay] to be responsible for disciplinary action against the ICC CEO in circumstances where the chairman is the person who made the allegations against the CEO," Sawhney wrote in the letter, seen by IANS.


"The ICC Code of Ethics (which is expressly referred to in my employment contract) contains a fair and impartial process for dealing with sensitive matters, in the form of an independent Ethics Tribunal, and I request that one to be appointed to hear my case. The chairman should not be allowed to use the terms of my employment contract to circumvent basic procedural fairness, transparency, and accountability," he said.

Sawhney makes it clear that only the ICC Board as a whole, and not its chairman alone, has the authority to sack him.

"Irrespective of the terms of my employment contract, under paragraph 3.3(A) of the ICC Constitution, only the Board has the authority to terminate my employment agreement," he has pointed out.

"I urge the Board to consider and address each of these issues, as well as my case as a whole, at the next of the ICC Board in order [to] uphold the basic principles of the ICC - accountability, fairness, and integrity."

Sawhney was accused of "targeted acts of bullying against certain [ICC] staff"; of "physical aggression, such as fist banging"; and, of having "impacted directly and indirectly on individuals' health and wellbeing through [his] behaviour". The fourth allegation was that he did not "properly report to the [ICC] Board and have implemented decisions or changes without proper consultation with the Board".

Following the allegation, the ICC appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for a culture review of the ICC, an exercise that Sawhney's camp alleged could have cost up to $200,000. On the basis the PwC report, which the Sawhney suspects hasn't been shared with all ICC Board members, the CEO was suspended in March.

Sawhney says the ICC chairman had made the accusation against him, and even he (Sawhney) was given the PwC report "seven days after being suspended on March 9, 2021".

Sawhney was appointed ICC CEO in January 2019.

A source said on Wednesday that the ICC Board was expected to meet virtually for an emergency meeting on Thursday while the annual ICC Board meeting would be held on July 18.

"Throughout the last few months I have been deeply concerned and saddened by the unfair process which I have been subjected to and which could potentially result in my unilateral removal as the CEO of the ICC. The process has been undertaken without any accountability, transparency, and fairness. It sets a very dangerous precedent at the ICC and undermines the integrity of the ICC Board," Sawhney wrote in his two-page letter on Wednesday.

"The Board has ultimate authority over my ongoing employment with the ICC and yet I have grave doubts over whether my case has even been presented to the Board, whether accurately or at all."

Sawhney wrote he even raised his case with the ICC's independent director Indra Nooyi, but "regrettably, I have not received any response".

"I, therefore, request the following items to be added to the agenda of the next meeting of the ICC Board:

"1- The PwC report was commissioned by the Board at great expense to the ICC. It is incumbent on the Board to request (i) that all Directors be immediately provided with a full copy of the report; and (ii) an explanation for the four-month delay in providing a full copy of the report to the Board.

"2- I ask the Board to question why the ICC has adopted, and continues to adopt, a petty and vindictive approach towards me which has included refusing to me my sick pay in breach of ICC sick pay policy, failing to provide me my payslips for 2021 (which I need for personal reasons) and failing to pay me a performance bonus for 2020, despite that fact that all other staff (for whom I was responsible) received one.

"3- I have not received any correspondence from the [ICC] chairman for three weeks since my disciplinary hearing on 17 June 2021. Instead, on 2 July 2021, the Ethics Officer informed me that he is now investigating me under the ICC Code of Ethics. Frankly, it is beyond belief that my conduct as an official of the ICC is being questioned given the prejudicial way I have been treated. I request the Board to reject this blatant attempt to use a second witch-hunt to cover-up the ICC chairman's conduct in this matter to date.

"4- The chairman continues to assume sole conduct of my case on the basis that my employment contact states: Responsibility for any disciplinary action against the Executive will rest with the chairman and as set out in the ICC Code of Ethics or other such document."

The source said that since it is now an open fight between the ICC chairman and the CEO, it is most likely that Sawhney was on his way out. "Interestingly, all these issues were born with the much maligned and much delayed election for the ICC chairman after Shashank Manohar declined to take a third term as ICC chairman," he said.-IANS


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