Sri Lankan minister’s offshore property holdings revealed


Tiran Alles, Sri Lanka’s public security minister, has been identified in the Pandora Papers, a massive data leak investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Alles, known as a media tycoon and politician, has offshore holdings through two British Virgin Islands (BVI) companies, disclosed through an analysis of leaked records and the UK’s public property register.

Alles’s company, Brompton Properties Ltd., owns a London flat purchased for approximately US$960,000 in 2006. Additionally, his second BVI company, Banham Ventures Ltd., has owned another property near Chelsea since 2008, although the purchase price isn’t listed in UK records.

According to declarations in the leaked files, funds for these BVI companies came from Alles’s business endeavors. In a reference letter included in the Pandora Papers, a notary described Alles as a prominent business entrepreneur in Sri Lanka, playing a pivotal role in the success of various business ventures and media companies.

Despite numerous attempts by ICIJ for comment, Alles did not respond. Alles, who founded a telecommunications company in the 1980s, entered politics in 2010 after leading the Civil Aviation Authority. He assumed the role of Sri Lanka’s public security minister during a political and economic crisis last year, culminating in the removal of former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The leaked files from Overseas Management Company (OMC), the financial services provider managing Alles’s BVI companies, did not label him as a politically exposed person, a designation requiring stricter due diligence checks due to the potential for corruption or money laundering. OMC refrained from addressing inquiries about Alles, citing confidentiality reasons, but assured compliance with relevant laws and robust due diligence practices.

Alles is listed as a dual resident of Sri Lanka and the UK, with a London address tied to Gateway Educational Services (UK) Ltd., previously described as involved in property investment for nursery education. This company seems connected to Alles’s Gateway Group, which includes elite private schools founded by his late father and reportedly provided free tutoring to the son of the then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Alles’s association with offshore holdings was publicly reported in Sri Lankan newspapers after his name surfaced in the ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks Database. Alles dismissed the focus on his name as an attempt to tarnish his reputation and stated that there were legitimate purposes for his offshore companies.

However, Sri Lankan authorities have not initiated an investigation into his holdings.

Alles joins three other politically linked Sri Lankans identified in the Pandora Papers. Previously, ICIJ exposed the hidden assets of Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan, showing their use of shell companies and trusts to accumulate assets worth about US$18 million in tax havens, including artworks and luxury properties in London and Sydney. The couple denied any wrongdoing.

Following these revelations, anti-corruption activists urged Sri Lanka’s authorities to investigate, but to date, there hasn’t been public disclosure of the investigation’s findings. The Pandora Papers also highlighted Ramalingam Paskaralingam, a former adviser to three Sri Lankan leaders, who utilized BVI trusts and companies to hold millions, invest in education, and purchase UK property. Paskaralingam did not respond to ICIJ’s requests for comment.


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