The Sunday Leader

Top Real Estate Broker Admits Dodging Taxes

By Michael Hardy

20 minutes south of Galle: US $1,400,000 and Private island near Tangalle: Price upon request

The Sunday Leader has uncovered shocking new evidence of how expatriate-owned real estate brokers help foreigners buy valuable property on the island without paying the mandatory 100 percent transfer tax that was enacted in 2005. Over the past decade, foreigners have bought up massive swaths of Sri Lankan beachfront property, displacing local inhabitants and inflating real estate prices to unprecedented levels.

Most foreigners buy the property as an investment, hoping to re-sell it later for a hefty profit. The most valuable and hotly-traded property is located around Galle, from Bentota to Matara, but numerous expat-owned real estate brokers also offer beachfront property around Trincomalee, Arugam Bay, Tangalle and Puttalam. With numerous real estate companies taking advantage of a tax loophole to quickly sell off land to outside investors, the government appears content to let foreigners buy up the island from under its very nose.

Bentota beach: US $1,100,000 and 40 minutes south of Galle: US $1,200,000

Posing as a wealthy American businessman, I met with well-known real estate agent Giles Scott to discuss buying property near Mirissa Beach in Weligama. Scott, a UK expatriate and founder of Lanka Real Estate (LRE), met me at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo to tell me about the investment opportunities available to foreigners. As I secretly taped the conversation using a digital recorder hidden in my pocket, Scott explained exactly how he and his partner, fellow Englishman Ivan Robinson, would help me evade paying taxes on any property I might decide to purchase.

“It’s all possible, it’s all happening,” Scott told me when I inquired about buying land in the South. He told me that he had started LRE with Robinson in 2003 after learning that there weren’t any other expat real estate agents in the South. LRE quickly encountered a series of setbacks. “The government changed hands in 2004, not for the benefit of our investors,” Scott said. “Then the tsunami came, which sort of put a damper on things, but sales kept going up in 2005, 2006.” But since the war ended, Scott told me, the Sri Lankan real estate industry has been booming. He recommended that I buy land in the next six months, because by next winter’s tourist season land prices are projected to go sky-high.

“Everything we have on the books is selling off, and everything new is also selling off,” Scott said. “I think by the next winter season — January, February, March — if nothing else changes, the market is going to really take off. The South still has a long way to go. So from an investment point of view — yep, it’s a pretty good idea. Now, as a place to live, it’s a little harder to handle. It’s a developing country.”

Repeatedly characterizing Sri Lanka as backwards and politically volatile, Scott steered me towards purchasing land as an investment rather than as a second home. When I asked how he manages to live here, Scott claimed that he had mastered “the ways” of Sri Lanka. I then asked whether I would be faced with a lot of bureaucratic red tape from the government. “Don’t worry about it,” Scott confidently answered. “Sri Lanka isn’t like Europe — it’s not a nanny state. There are ways in which things are done here, which you would think ‘gosh, I wouldn’t do that in England.’ But if you don’t do it that way you aren’t going to get it done. I’m not talking about bribing officials or anything like that. It’s like driving — you think it’s anarchy, but there are rules. You haven’t really learned them yet. There are rules, but they’re rules made up by the private sector rather than the government.”

Although Scott denied bribing officials, he didn’t seem concerned about government interference. In fact, he brazenly boasted of never paying the 100 percent transfer tax on the purchase of land in Sri Lanka by foreigners. When I asked him directly about this tax, Scott explained that, because of the history behind the tax, it was never enforced by the Inland Revenue Department. (The Commissioner-General of Inland Revenue, E.M. Mahinda Medagoda, refused to comment for this story. Attempts to contact the Register General’s Department and the Ministry of Land and Land Development were also unsuccessful.)

“The JVP joined forces with the UPFA in 2004 to defeat the UNP,” Scott explained. “They were quite hard-line nationalists, and they didn’t like this idea of foreigners coming in and taking land that belongs to Sri Lankans. So the new government put a 100 percent tax on land. But even the leaders of the JVP knew that the country needs private investment, so they made a hole wide enough for a juggernaut to go through. That way they had something to say to the Sinhalese hard-liners in the South.”

Scott told me that three years after the tax was implemented he attempted to pay the transfer tax on a small piece of property he had purchased. According to Scott, the government quickly sent him back the money, saying that there was nobody to process it. Despite lax government oversight, however, Scott explained that legal sleight-of-hand is necessary to avoid the tax.

“So (the tax) is there, it’s in the law, and nobody pays it,” Scott admitted. “But in order to get around it it’s a little complex. There are lots of simple ways around it, but we at LRE make sure we go through the most sound way, which is a little bit more expensive and a little bit more complicated, but, if the government were to change hands to an even worse government, nothing really bad could happen with your land.”

The “most sound way” of cheating the government was first revealed by The Sunday Leader in a 2005 article by Frederica Jansz. As Jansz reported, and as Scott confirmed to me, LRE sets up two companies — call them Company A and Company B. Company A is owned by the foreign investor, and Company B, which holds the land, is co-owned by Company A and a local lawyer. The lawyer owns 76 percent of the shares in Company B, with Company A owning the other 24 percent, even though the investor has already paid in full for the property. (This arrangement is set up to meet the legal requirement that companies that have more than 75 percent of their shares owned by foreigners must pay the transfer tax.)

Before any money changes hands, the investor and the lawyer sign a contract in which the lawyer gives the investor a 99-year lease on the property. In case something goes wrong, the contract has a clause guaranteeing Company A the remaining shares in Company B. As Scott explained, “If something went wrong, then you would be able to get your land back, but for legality the land is owned by a local company.”

Who are the local lawyers helping foreigners to buy up their country’s patrimony? According to Scott, there are no more than half a dozen lawyers used by expatriates in Sri Lanka, with two lawyers in particular — Simon Seneratne of Colombo and Mansoor Marikar of Galle — being used in 80 percent of all transactions. When contacted by The Sunday Leader, Seneratne declined to comment. Marikar claimed that “the shell companies are not being set up by me. They’re being set up by chartered accountants in Colombo. I only do the material work. I do not know anything about these deals.” (Attempts to contact LRE’s accountants were unsuccessful.)

In my role as a wealthy investor, I asked Scott whether it would be difficult to set up my own company. “Well, it’s a shell company that’s sole asset is the land or the house,” he said. “In the future you can get Board of Investment (BOI) status on the company, which gives you a resident visa. Getting a resident visa is easy.”

Scott went on to explain how I could later sell my property and transfer the money to a foreign bank without paying a single rupee to the government.

He seemed to see nothing wrong with exploiting Sri Lankan law to make a fortune while contributing nothing to the island’s coffers. The principal beneficiary of LRE’s tax-evasion scheme is LRE, which charges a five percent commission on all sales that it brokers. The only other cost to investors is the approximately US $3,000 fee to set up the shell companies and an annual fee of US $200-$300 to keep the companies registered in Sri Lanka. Altogether, Scott estimated that the cost of purchasing land in Sri Lanka was about seven percent of the total price:

“That’s not super in London, but things are a lot simpler in London, or in the States,” Scott said. Nevertheless, he told me that he preferred doing business in Sri Lanka. “I like the freedom here. I like the fact that you have to be your own boss. You have to make your own moral code.  It’s up to you.” Looking towards the future, Scott said that despite the current government’s nationalism he was optimistic that real estate prices would continue to climb.

“(The government is) too involved in their own problems (to interfere) — jailing Generals, or whatever,” Scott said. “This is not a great government, but I still hope for the best. What the country needs is someone like Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore. He didn’t stand for any nonsense from his own people.”

For the moment, however, the question is whether the Sri Lankan people with stand for any more nonsense from Giles Scott and the other real estate brokers who are quite literally selling the country to wealthy foreigners. Now that’s the real foreign conspiracy.

Ivan Responds

From: Ivan Robinson <info@lankarealestate.com>
Date: Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 8:05 AM
Subject: Re: Looking for house near Marissa
To: Michael Hardy <kerr.hardy@gmail.com>

Your Modus Operandi is definitely unethical and I actually feel sorry for you having to do your business in such a manner.  If you had been straight and told me that you were a journalist from the outset I would have happily told you what we do and in great detail.   Because of your despicable, immoral and deceptive approach I will let you find out for yourself.  We have nothing to hide and have not broken any laws in this country so I expect that you will make up your own very imaginative story.
Good luck Michael and I wish you all the very best in life.
Ivan

60 Comments for “Top Real Estate Broker Admits Dodging Taxes”

  1. I blame Sri Lankan government more thatn Ivan. But anyway Ivan should be prosecuted for violating the tax law of my country Sri Lanka. Well done Michael you are a Hero

    • mohomeed Jiffry

      another iddiot you mahesh… what do you know the tax law of sri lanka?

      • Sri Lankan

        Dear All, There are many needs to develop a country and only a true patriotic person would do thing the right way for the betterment of our mother land. In this case even Ivan has been living and doing a business in Sri Lanka for many years, what he did was to save as much for him self like most of us do. He managed to do that for many years but as a Buddhist I feel his karma followed him. Still! He was able to do this for such a long time is because our system allowed him to be hidden.

        The only way to reduce these issues from happening is by us being true and fare to our selves / others and to what you do, no matter who we are.

        I know contractors and other businessman who has benefited from Ivan and I know people who got cheated by him. But end of the day he was a businessman from another country who used our resources for his benefit, and we let that happen. So let him pay for what he have done and you and I should try to do what we can to avoid these from happening by being true and hones to our selves / others and what we do.

  2. Love Lanka

    I believe something should be done to stop this nonsense once and for all, and if MR and Co., are busy doing their own thing – its time the people of this country took matters to their own hands and dealt a death blow to these greedy blood suckers from thooth-thukudiya!

    • mohomeed Jiffry

      are you going to bring the foreing exchange in the country? are you going to give the jobs for our youth? just see when a foreinger buys the property gets developed in a nice way. immediatly construction industry is given a breath… there by how many people are employed? after development basically a minimum of 3 sri lankan youths gets employed… love lanka are you going to give our youth employment? as the chineese prisnors working at hambantota harbour? just dont critisize like iddiots… look at the reality.

      • ditto

        hey ass munch looks like you are going to lose a few dollars is that why you are concerned? Leeches like you are the reason this country is messed up. Jump in to the sea and eat a sea urhin. Jack ass!

  3. mike

    I do not even know Ivan or Scott, but can anyone explain to me the law they have broken? They just followed the low. So you think the purpose of a business is to look for ways to pay higher taxes than they have to? Of course they are not going to pay more than the law requires them. This is without any basis!

  4. mohomeed Jiffry

    sunday leader nonsense as usual. do the foreigners carry the land overseas? NO. all land in sri lanka will stay within the sri lankan teritory. only difference is when property purchased by non residence they do contribute a lot to the country. locals get a real value for money for the property plus for the economy of the country the foreing money comes in which is good. plus construction business thrives, plus locals benefit from job opportunities. plus tourism booms. or if we close doors the country will just sleep. michael hardy you are a real eddiot….of caurse i forgot we really have some iddiots in this world.

  5. Sanjiva

    Actually, i dont see anything wrong in what Mr.Ivan said.we should welcome oreign investors and the 100% tax is a bit unfair.They should be taxed but that amount must be reasonable.And most of sri lanka’s laws are bureaucratic and were made during the british times.You can’t run a country efficiently with these laws.These aged old laws breed corruption

  6. shatu

    I must agree with mohomeed above: this article is nothing but Sunday Leader rubbish! Michael Hardy is second- or third class journalist who has obviously not done his homework properly apart from using shady methods in order to putting together his poorly researched piece of jouranlism. A vast number of these foreign investors are developing hotels, villas, guesthouses etc on the lands they are buying. Apart from providing much needed job opportunities in construction, services, tourism etc they are bringing large amounts of foreign exchange to Sri Lanka, which is also desperately needed as we know. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the government turns a blind eye on the fact that foreigners do invest via these routes in Sri Lanka. Maybe the government is not as stupid as these Sinhalese – chauvinist hardliners like JVP etc which are still holding on to their Communist dream. Get a grip, times are changing and what we have here is a free market. Sri Lankans do own property all over the globe, UK, US, Australia and many other parts of the world. None of these governments is taxing them 100% and none of these governments has anything against Sri Lankans buying land in their countries. The 100% tax in SL should be officially erased to stop this stupid discussion forever. My suggestion: instead of losing out completely on taxes being paid, maybe the government should consider reducing the tax to 10-15% which many investors would quite happily pay in order to not having to use these loopholes. Nobody wants to pay 100% and nobody will – there will always be ways around it…

    • Andrew

      Totally agree with these comments. Michael you really are a jack ass journalist with no concept of business and a global market. Enforce the 100% tax and see all foreign investment dry up. If your lucky maybe the Dutch will collonise again and build decent homes and roads. Jack ass

  7. Nick

    I think this is a serious problem for Sri Lanka. This country has few natural resources and the beaches and land is one of them. So to maximize their earnings by selling this asset, the government wants to tax the foreign buyers. What Ivan and Giles are doing is denying Sri Lanka income that can be used to improve the country. I have no problems with foreigners buying up land but they should pay taxes. Whether 100% is too high or not is a different mater for the government to decide. What is important is that there is a law to earn money for the country and foreigners must obey that law.

    Sure the foreigners build houses and this creates jobs but are those the types of jobs we want? Having a hundred villas in Thalpe or mirissa only creates jobs as cooks and roomboys for the villas. But that is not a sustainable job creation. If there were large hotels where hundreds are employed, that is a different mater. But hotels do not buy land from Ivan or do shady deals and not pay taxes as they are legitimate businesses. The foreigners who buy land here are only doing it to speculate on the prices and this is the kind of investor we do not need as in such conditions, the only loser is Sri Lanka.

    Right now most of the land has been bought by foreigners is not being developed and they hold on to it until the prices go up andthen resell it. This is worthles for the country. I think the govt. should abolish these loopholes and tell foreigners if you buy land, then pay a 50% tax. No exceptions. The foreigners should also be given 2 years during which they should develop the land. If they don’t, then they will have to pay an additional 50% in taxes as a penalty.

    • Leo

      You are right, in the Phlippines even the locals have to pay higher annual property taxes for commercial/residential land in major cities – if the land is not developed within a period of 2 or 3 years.

      This eliminates speculators an and boosts development.

      As you said, there should be a law stipulating that land bought/owned by foreigners should be developped within 2 years.

      All idle properties should be owned by foreigners should be subjected fine/penalty if the property is not developed within specified period of time.

      There is no harm in foreigners buying land to build a house to live or as second home but those who buy large properties for investment purposes should be banned.

      If a foreigner or a foreign company wants to buy land for commercial purpose of building a factory or even building houses for sale should be encouraged and given all assistance by the government; to the speculators who buy land for investment purposes only – tax them to the hilt!

  8. Manula

    Not only this every thing pepole are trying to jump from the loose point to avoid taxation. Same time this 100% tax to be reduced to get the forigen investment to devlop the country

  9. shatu

    The single largest land owner in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan government, hence it is absolute nonsense to claim that this country will ever be “sold out” to foreigners… It is simply not possible! There haven’t been many developments on foreign owned property in recent years for the simple reason that it was not the right time or climate to invest in developing homes, villas, hotels etc. If Mr.Nick above would be a bit more observant he would have realized that in fact many of the foreign owners are planning to start developing their properties now as the war has finally come to an end. Nobody can judge people for not developing or investing in a country that was at war with terrorists. And after all it is not up to above person to judge what sort of jobs are being created – after all it’s jobs and that is what counts. What great contributions have you made in terms of creating jobs in SL?

  10. Ivan has gone on a comments writing spree, writing under different names to jusify his actions – see the above comments by Mike, jiffy, shatu, Sanjeewa, manula – I can boldly say all this had been written by Ivan. Bogollagama modaya is a big time land hora – he had even (with his wife) filled valuable marshy land in Colombo district. Ivan might join with him and continue to operate in Sri Lanka. If Ivan try to flee Sri Lanka – the Immigration must be alerted.

    • mohomeed Jiffry

      real self satisfaction by putting these words. what contribitions have u ppl done to this country, at least ivan can be proud for the foreing exchange he has brought in and helping our mother land. actually i live down 43 light house street fort galle. plesase come and visit me if you feel all these post is by ivan though i have not met or seen ivan i just do not live in a well as a frog, see the develop world and this iddiot micheal hardy is welcome to meet me at my recidence for a chat and see the truth and write the truth in future rather than just having some thing rubbish. as i have open my arms with my recidential address all fools like you should understand these comments are by genuine individuals. i think u might be this iddiot micheal hardy who is trying to justify the rubbish you have edited.

  11. Ivan has gone on a comments writing spree, writing under different names to jusify his actions – see the above comments by Mike, jiffy, shatu, Sanjeewa, manula – I can boldly say all this had been written by Ivan. Bogollagama modaya is a big time land hora – he had even (with his wife) filled valuable marshy land in Colombo district. Ivan might join with him and continue to operate in Sri Lanka. If Ivan try to flee Sri Lanka – the Immigration must be alerted.

  12. shatu

    Unfortunately you are entirely wrong with your claim that Mr.Robinson has posted all or most of the above replies… As soon as somebody does well biz-wise in SL unfortunately they have to deal with all these ridiculous accusations which have no other basis but jealousy… Maybe that’s what you guys should work on first: change your backward attitude and get over it!

  13. The Blame should go for the rulers, who enacted these laws.
    Inland revenue dept is a dead dept.

  14. VINTAGE VOTER

    ITS NO POINT IN ENACTING LAWS IF THEY ARE NOT IMPLEMENTED.
    WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE “VAT” ROGUES WHO ARE HAVING A
    WONDERFUL TIME ABROAD, WITH THE HELP OF THEIR PATRONS.
    IS NOT OUR PRESIDENT RAJAPAKSE DRESSED IN IMMACULATE WHITE,
    THE FINANCE MINISTER. ? WHO SHOULD ANSWER
    I ALWAYS THOUGHT HE WAS NOT THAT “CLEAN”, SINCE THEY HAVE THAT “KURAKKAN ” COLORED SHAWL. THATS THE INDICATION THAT THEY ARE
    NOT AS CLEAN AS THEY CLAIM. TO THAT EXTENT THEY ARE HONEST.

  15. Shaik

    The only people Giles Scott is cheating is the foreigners themselves. The subterfuge of creating shell companies and lawyer shares are totally unnecessary because the law clearly states that if the property being sold is leasehold, then the 100% tax does not apply. This wise move by our lawsmakers has ensured that the property always remain in Sri Lankan hands and yet attract foreign currencies and the development at no cost.

  16. justitia

    “Commissioner General of Inland Revenue refused to comment on this story…….”
    When the Transfer Tax was paid – “……………the government quickly sent him back the money,saying that there was nobody to process it”.
    This is shocking news/indictment about/on our bureaucracy and the lawmakers.
    There was a big stir in parliament & outside,about the ‘VAT Scam’ whereby Billions were misappropriated and all the villains have not yet been apprehended.

    Here is an Ongoing Scam exposed by the Sunday Leader, which I suspect is well known to some of our our politicians – there are jokers who cannot/will not understand – who too have a ‘hand in the till’.

    I am sure that the very honourable Minister of Finance/a.k.a the President reads this story in the Leader. Is he bothered at all? Will he summon the Director General of Inland Revenue and the Registrar General and ask them to clarify?
    Will he ask the ‘sacred cow’ PBJayasundera about this – he too must be reading this story. Or, will he think that this is not the correct time, as the elections are pending?
    Dear Leader, you must follow up on this story.

  17. damion

    Transactions on Real estate does not add to economic value addition so has not value to the country. Unless a genuine investor is to develop the land the laws should be implemented fully to keep these sharks out of the country.

  18. RFG

    This is where the White Van treatment is appropriate for these whiteys

  19. dagobert

    GOSL must stop this nonsense.
    Stop immediately sale of land to Non-nationals.

    Also, must halt giving people plots of land as santhosam. Latest was a site offered in Pannipitiya area for houses to be built for actors guild or something like that…

    GOSL can build houses and distribute. BUT it should be in the form of flats & not plot of land and an individual house.
    GOSL must preserve land.
    Stop sale of Coconut lands or any similar.
    Land usage for housing must done after careful thought and save Land to maximise Agriculture.

    Its time GOSL planned to build flats similar to bambalapitiya flats with a rise of upto (05) floors with all amenities shopping , playgorunds, transport amenities banks, schools ect., and create satelite communities all over sri Lanka.

    STOP. No more issues of plots of lands but it should be issue of flats with a minimum Sq. Foot area of 800-900′ with (03) rooms.

    SAVE LAND & USE SPARELY.

  20. Jack Point

    Mr Hardy fails to draw a distinction between tax evasion and tax avoidance. Tax avoidance is the term used when individuals use provisions within the law to minimise taxation.

    Tax evasion is the the illegal practice of not paying taxes, usually by withholding information. Wikipedia explains the difference:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_avoidance_and_tax_evasion

    The methods described by Mr Hardy are those that any accountant or lawyer would recommend to a client.

    It is a pity that Mr Hardy did not contact the Mr S Balachandran of the Tax Payers Association or a firm of accountants or lawyers on the legality of the matters.

    • Ivan seems to be fighting teeth and nail to protect his reputaition and that of his company. He seems to be making comments with so many dummy names. But, if Ivan had done things to circumvent the tax laws of this Great Land then it is a crime. He has to pay for that – may be a lengthy jail sentence. Ivan should understand that laws in Sri Lanka are harsh just as in the UK. I hope the immigration at Katunayake has been alerted to prevent any of his impending escape.

    • Prasad Botejue

      Question here is tax evasion and the government not putting in place enough controls and procedures to collect taxes. It is the Land Registrar department should collect this tax when the title registration is done and proper regulations should be in place to avoid shell companies and other corporate structures being used to evade taxes. It looks like Lawyers and Accountants are aiding these blood thurstry foreigners to suck our blood for few hundred $$$$$$$s. Govt should tighten those rules and close loope holes. This should be done now !!!

  21. Jack Point

    Prasad and Buwaneka

    I am not not Ivan and the matter here is a question of avoidance. Companies incorporated in SL are treated recognised as local persons under the companies act and other laws.

    The practice of paying for land in two installments – one legally declared and entered on the official documents and another “unofficial” payment in cash, is however a case of evasion of stamp duty and is very widespread. This perhaps is a valid issue that can be raised?

    • Jack, By saying the scehme was intended to evade stamp duty are you pouring petrol into Ivan’s ever buring fire? Mate, stamp duty is payable to Crown, if one advises the clients how to avoid it, then that is FRAUD. Looks like Ivan is in deep trouble! 10 years in jail probably. Good thing (things go into his mitigation) is that he has stated he does not bribe the Government servants. For him (Ivan) to say that the Government is preoccupied with Sarath Fonseka is 100% correct. Well said Ivan on that point.

      • Jack Point

        The point I was trying to make is that evading stamp duty is almost the norm in real estate transactions, so almost every broker or estate agent in the country is probably guilty of this.

        The tax avoidance scheme being used by Ivan looks perfectly legal. What Inland Revenue does when they discover such a case they usually get amendments passed at the next budget to tighten the loopholes.

        There is a separate debate on whether foreign ownership of land should be permitted and I think it adds a lot to the local economy but some people disagree with this.

  22. shatu

    I can’t believe the level of hypocrisy I find amongst these readers’ comments… It just seems as if you are trying to sell Sri Lankans as being the most honest, sincere and upright nation on the globe… I suggest you better stop all of this self-deception or else you may soon find Lankans being banned from investing in the UK, US, Europe, Australia, etc which would be the right thing to do, seeing that you all want to shut-off this country for foreigners… In most other continents walls are coming down between nations whether this is economically or ideologically, but in SL there seems to be a popular nationalistic movement to build up these walls again. Ethnic cleansing is probably one of the next steps, or?

  23. Mark

    Michael Hardy’s “expose” is sound and fury told by an idiot signifying nothing.
    What is actually “exposed” is a massively stupid 100% “tax” on ex-pat land ownership. This brilliant bit of policy discourages people around the world from bringing their money into Sri Lanka and bidding up the value of real estate. Bidding up the price of real estate: what a terrible, terrible thing! Sri Lankan land owners will make money by selling! How naive, how villainous! Those who don’t sell will be able to raise money on the value of their landed assets that they can spend in the local economy! Or start businesses that employ Sri Lankans! The ripple effects of this market will increase the wealth of every single Sri Lankan who owns a bit of land! It’s got to be stopped! And those rapacious imperialists at Lanka Real Estate: taking fees from people who want to make money by selling their land! Worse, they offer tax planning for their clients and they openly admit it! They have the unmitigated temerity to read the law and to create value for willing buyers and willing sellers within its boundaries! Wealthy people are coming to Sri Lanka to…spend their money! Board up the windows, lock the doors, clap the culprits in irons! And thank you, Michael Hardy, you warned us just in time!

  24. Ivan may be a harmless fellow. Give him a fair go Leader. Please publish a full story next time (next Sunday) – and show exactly where Ivan is wrong, if he has done any wrong.

  25. People like Ivan (a British now living in Sri Lanka) are bringing in rich white people from the UK to Sri Lanka to buy land at exorbitant prices. How can the ordinary Sri Lankan man compete with these rich whites. Government introduced a tax so that at least the country will get extra income. Ivan is doing things to bypass the tax, so the Government is not getting the income and the poor Sri Lankans are denied the best land that they can build a house for themselves, because these whites will spend millions. Ivan and the rich White man are the winners, the poor Sri Lankan and the Sri Lankan Government are the losers. Good example is Sama Kanda in Galle. A British man bought the estate for a song and now parts of the Sinharaja Forest has also been bought into run a eco tourism project. The inefficient Government is not doing anything to catch the culprits like Ivan. They have time only to punish Fonseka. Thanks Sunday Leader for the article. This is brave journalism. Well done, keep exposing.

    • mohomeed Jiffry

      you sucker be thankful that sama kanda is in british hands, there for its preserved as it is… just imagine if this property was sold to a sri lankan finance company? the entire property would have got flattened out with a JCB and blocked it out. luckey its with british hands and today it stands as it is and not ruined. we call you sinhalaya modaya kawum kanna sooraya. take your brain and present it to the newly opened maritime musuam in the fort

    • J in Japan

      Come on Viraj,
      Be honest, if the land was for sale, then why didn’t one of the poor Sri Lankans buy it? Because most can’t afford to. In every country I’ve lived in, you employ a tax agent to minimise the tax you pay and it is no different in SL.

      J

  26. Mohmeed Jiffry, I warn you of your language against me.

    Govt must investigate Ivan.

    Govt must investigate Sama Kanda. Britisher (Rory or someone) bought the old tea estate for a song. I think that man is not a friend of Sri Lanka, but a Tamil separatist supporter. I believe and fear that the Britisher is now encroaching into Sinharaja. Foreigners are taken to the virgin forest at cost, sometimes in bicycles, which disturbs the fragile environment. The common water stream he thinks belong to him. He has somewhat converted the water pool as a swimming pool for his family, using Sinharaja Water!
    So many Britishers have bought old colonial bungalows in Galle Fort, skyrocketing the prices of properties there. Locals can’t buy now because of these whites who have encroached into Galle.

    Only if JVP is in power, they will solve all these national problems in national interst. This Govt is too preoccupied with jailing and attacking its opponenets.

  27. Sinharaj belongs to Sri Lankans, not to Britishers. Sri Lankans must be allowed to go and visit Sama Kanda as and when they wish -without paying a fee. It should be like going to the forest, becasue Sama Kanda is part of the Sinharaja – the World Heritage Forest. Otherwise the Governemnt should take over Sama Kanda and give it to Wildlife Dept to manage

  28. Ilham

    Its still better than the country being bought by the R Brothers…When foreigners buy up property and land there is some sort of development, they could go on to build hotels, resorts
    People fail to Identify that Sri Lanka needs to move forward…

  29. I hope and pray there will be a JVP govt one day with Sarath Fonseka at the helm

    • Exactly said Kosala, the crooks who stole the mother computer ,
      from the locked room of Inland Revenue director generals are still
      not caught when the EX director forwarded report about their shady deals , UNP & UPFA was answerable now evidence to prove. only a JVP govt must come to start inquiring all govt sahady deals of their cohorts,
      Now this Jiffry seems to be & ignorant fool though i am a muslim i dont support their capitalist mind.

      • mohomeed Jiffry

        does it matter muslim or otherwise… though am ignorant i cant see u have any sense of common sense…why cant u fellows pack ur bags and settle down in libiya. and leave our mother land to develop. you need not support my mind but better u support ur own ass…

        • To Jiffry
          you dont have to tell us where to settle, thats
          irrelevant to the subject, thats arrogance of yours, come to the point if foreigners come & buy our lands, poor srilankans wont have lands to buy, land market will soar ten times.

      • mohomeed Jiffry

        to sheriff

        are u a kinder garden student? property in colombo? what is the price? is that because foreing buying? and are sri lankans not buying in colombo because they cant affort? this is what we call development. fortunatly there is enough and more properties in sri lanka to buy for locals. only what happened is locals do not have the craze to own tourism related properties. they just did not bother and only when things are happening they look back and say hay whats going on. we missed it out and we should have purchased long before which would have been a good investmment. cha too late! talk to ur heart my freind.

        • Jiffry Your reply went unnoticed, anyway your mindset is capitalist like i said before, may be you have not moved with the landless poor people of Srilanka, those people collect
          money for years when they reach the target,
          alas the price have trebled, again they continue
          to save , again prices treble, no end to it. only
          a dream for the Houseless & landless people.
          The rich of course own 5 or 6 with acres of land more than their want.
          I am not against land going for Tourism,
          under that pretext foreigners flouting the
          law of the lands could not be accepted.

  30. mohomeed Jiffry

    day dreaming…. ha ha ha computer jimicks and jvp government ha ha ha …. desparate modayas norrow minded iddiots….sf kalawadda 10 years inside and u buwalla’s day dreaming for jvp government… we are happy our land has got value thanks for the expats…

  31. People like Ivan must be prosecuted for doing things to deny tax revenue to our Government. Immigration Commissioner please take note – he may flee the country like the VAT scammers

  32. john castle

    Good article michael- couple of matters that must be followed up- firstly why are foreigners like Ivan allowed to carry on doing real estate brokerage? Foreigners are not adding any value to the country and only depriving the locals of income. Action must be taken to prosecute these guys who come with nothing to SL and are screwing the poor villagers. Secondly if foreigners buy land that is not developed we must introduce a tax of 50% on the value of the land each year. Thirdly a capital gains tax of 100% should be introduced on foreigners who buy land and sell it without developing the land. Can you provide me with the names of a few good laywers who can start taking action against these guys.

  33. Sid

    If 100 percent tax is the law, then ther should be no loop holes. If we have no brains to enforce it, then it should not have been enaceted in the first place.
    No one is displacing anyone forceibly. The inhabitants like the sound od dollars and strelings, then why should we argue> If the governmewnt land is sold , then ther slud be a debetae.

  34. Jeff

    Not all foreigners coming to live in SL are money grabbing speculators, athought it seems that that beachfront land speculation is starting to get out of hand; but please remember that the majority of foreigners come to live in SL becuase they love the country and are seeking a good quality of life. I think the answer to prevent speculation is not to have this 100% land tax but have very stiff capital gains taxes on short/medium profits on reselling land, this will keep out the speculators without discourging the geniune investors and forgieners who have a genuine fondness for SL. It will also help to keep prices in check so many locals won’t feel they are being priced out.

  35. Chintaka

    The British, raped our country 200 years and ther are doing it again ….. the government should take stern action and should prosecute them without letting them leave the country.
    1. Check their visa’s, do they have th right to do business?
    2. Have they paid their taxes?
    3. Are the foreign buyers paying their taxes on properties purchased?

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