Comet Cable started its operation of Pay TV in 1997 with share holders from Australia, Canada & Sri Lanka Govt. (90% Chalmway & 10% SL Govt. owned SDA)Within about 2 years the company ran into financial problems mainly due to embezzlement of funds by the then management. Then shareholders invited the Hettiarachchi Group to invest US $ 500,000/ to bail out the company. In return they were promised the management & shares. Although the management was given they were not given the promised shares. However Hettiarachchi group without informing the share holders issued themselves shares & got into trouble. In 2004 the owning company in Australia, Chalmway filed action against the Hettiarachchi group in Commercial High Court in Sri Lanka. After a bitter battle in courts, Chalmway got the ruling in their favor. They moved into Comet somewhere in July 2005.But since Hettiarachchi group appealed the judgment, the Registrar of Companies refused to validate the Chalmway nominated directors.
Comet was running smoothly till the year 2007 June. James Scobie as CEO was running the company with the help of another Aussie citizen, Gerry Junkeer (Sri Lankan). Also on the directorate was Christopher Rodrigo known as Chris apparently he is also a model & a pimp (who supplies girls to top guys) appears in Dettol TV advert. Suresh Edirisinghe of Auto Court, Chaminda Perera, CEO, Swedish Trading Company, Anton de Alwis, Thilak Baddewela Retd.SSP. Gamini Gunawardena ex-banker.
In June 2007 they sold the company with the licenses to an Indian company called United Telecom Ltd (UTL) for US$ 1.9mil. Then the troubles began.
• Chalmway couldn’t transfer shares because of ongoing cases.(Also they didn’t want to transfer after taking the money)
• Junkeer & Scobie fell out over money. Junkeer has filed cases in Aussie against Scobie’s company. Now they are fighting for their own pound of flesh.
• Indians couldn’t file a case because they had brought in this money illegally to Sri Lanka(They hadn’t declared this money in India)
• Then walks in a man by the name of Rohan Wijetunge, owner of Zanzibar night club, claiming that he has very close connection to the first family, was promised US$ 500,000/ by Scobie & Junkeer to silence Govt owned SDA & other Govt bodies & he has done the job & was not paid. So he is the new owner!!
By this time the management wanted to get rid of some, staff who were not willing to toe the line. First one was to stop the posting on this forum about going digital etc;
In the mean time the company was sinking. All Programmers were not paid. They started to disconnect channels…. one by one. By end December 2007 most of the channels had gone off the air. At this time also Scobie & cronies were trying to sell this company again!!
By then some of the staff got together & started writing appeals to SDA, Labour Dept to intervene but nothing happened. One day this Rohan W. has come into office in a Jeep which belongs to President’s security threatened the staff with death. The staff instead of making an entry, they wrote to the President about this. Immediately the President has taken action. He has never sighted the place after that. But very much in the scene
By Feb/March Hilton Residence (JAIC) cut off the transmission for non payment of their bills. There was hardly any money in the company to pay this amount to Hilton (app Rs.3 mil). Then the staff has found that moneys have been siphoned out by Scobie and his cronies. According to a very well informed source that the amount is close to a staggering Rs.100 mil!. They have got the proof as well. (In fact they have reported this to the CID & collecting more info) The staff hadn’t got their salaries since May this year. Can you’ll believe it. There is 75 staff still!! They have complained to Labour Dept. & they are supposed to be dragging this issue because the staff believe that Rodrigo & Wijetunge have influenced the famous Mervin as he is the Labour Minister !
By end of May things have got really worse. The electricity was cut off as a result no phone lines! (There its Rs.1 mil.). The mobiles were cut off. That’s why we couldn’t contact them. So now the staff comes in small numbers & taking turns. There are few members of the staff who had helped this daylight robbery to take place. I saw a post above; a few names were given with them the HR (Devika) & Accountant (Harshini) & another person by the name of Prasanna are supposed to be involved. This director Rodrigo with Wijetunge have withdrawn moneys that were kept for staff salaries & gratuity (Rs.9.4mil.) They supposed to have forged other directors’ signatures to withdraw money from two banks. Inquiries are on
Same time the staff collectively made a complaint to Bambalpitiya Police regarding electricity, water & other facilities. They only wanted the directors to address their grievances & give solutions. Some came to the Police Station but the main guy Christopher Rodrigo never sighted. Then the Police have reported to Mt.Lavinia Courts.
First day only one director had been present. He was released on a personal bail. On 10th Sept. other directors were present. Rodrigo was not present on this day too. He was warranted. Guys’ next hearing will be on 8th Oct.
I think I must take this opportunity to tell the staff that being a customer for a very long time a very BIG THANK YOU for the services given. All of you’ll are not responsible for this mess. So don’t worry. We are with you guys.
There’s some good news as well. The Hettiarachchi Group has got TV frequencies from TRC & Media license from Media Ministry. They will be launching very soon. Some workers of Comet will get into it as well.