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Sri Lanka's Public Security minister used shell companies to own London flats

Image courtesy of Newscutter.lk

ICIJ have reported that Tiran Alles, the sitting Public security minister used a network of shell companies based in the British Virgin Islands to own properties across London. 

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)  analysis shows that Alles’ Brompton Properties Ltd. owns a flat in an affluent area of London that was purchased for about $960,000 in 2006.

His second BVI company, Banham Ventures Ltd., has owned a separate property near the city’s Chelsea neighbourhood since 2008. U.K. records don’t list the purchase price.

The funds used to finance the BVI companies came from Alles’ work as a businessman, according to a declaration in the leaked Pandora files.

Earlier this year Minister Tiran Alles filed a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on August 15 over an allegation by the Frontline Socialist Party that he had offshore investments in an “European island.”

Responding to a question asked by the Island, following his name being found in the reports, Alles asked whether his was the only name listed in the report. He said that "singling out his name was a mischievous effort to tarnish his reputation."

The Pandora Papers is a trove of 11.9 million leaked documents obtained by ICIJ that were at the core of a 2021 global investigation exposing the financial deals and hidden assets of politicians, celebrities, business people and criminals in more than 200 countries. The files came from 14 offshore service providers that specialized in setting up shell companies and trusts in tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions.

The Pandora Papers documents list Alles as a dual resident of Sri Lanka and the U.K., at a London address that was used as the registered office of Gateway Educational Services (UK) Ltd. In 2006, U.K. corporate records described the business purpose of the London entity as “investment in property for the promotion of nursery education.” ICIJ reports. 

Tiran Alles was a businessman who entered into politics as the campaign manager for Mahinda Rajapakse’s bid for Presidency in 2005. He also was the former Chairperson of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). He currently owns local print media organisations such as Ceylon Today and Mawbima, and Gateway College, which consists of international schools throughout the island. One of the schools provided free tutoring to the son of then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa,

The public security minister is one of four Sri Lankan politically connected people identified in the Pandora Papers so far.

The papers revealed how Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan hid millions from law enforcement during the armed conflict through investments in luxury properties across the world, offshore trusts, and opulent artwork. The ICIJ estimated that as of 2017 the offshore holdings of the couple were valued at approximately $18 million. At the time, the median annual income in Sri Lanka was less than $4,000.

Nirupama Rajapaksa, a former deputy minister had told journalists in an interview that women were needed in Sri Lanka politics because, “as women, we have better qualities than men and are more honest and are less vulnerable to bribes and corruption”.

In 2021 responding to the revelation that members of the Rajapaksa family stashed millions of dollars in anonymous offshore trusts and shell companies, the former Sri Lankan State Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, C B Ratnayake blamed the Tamil diaspora.

Read more at ICIJ

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