Ronnie Peiris finally coughs up tax payment
UK based businessman Ronnie Peiris has settled a tax probe by the Inland Revenue Department to the tune of Rs. 60 million and more over the controversial Waters' Edge Golf Club land transaction initiated during the administration of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
According to Finance Ministry sources, Peiris eventually settled a claim by the Department for the payment of his share in the transaction. The Sunday Times published in January last year that the Inland Revenue Department was looking out for Peiris to collect their dues from an estimated Rs. 60 million he had obtained from the release of state-owned UDA property near the Parliament Complex to a private company – Asia Pacific Golf Courses Ltd., to construct a golf club.
The news item stated that the Tax Department was in readiness to arrest Peiris at the airport upon arrival should he continue to evade letters sent by them asking him to settle the taxes due to the government. These sources said that Peiris had contested the Tax Department's calculations, but eventually settled the matter by the payment of an undisclosed sum as taxes.
Commissioner General of Inland Revenue A.A. Wijepala was not available for comment throughout this week despite several messages being left at his office. In 1998, President Kumaratunga herself brought a cabinet paper requesting BOI approval for four investors wanting to start a golf club in property that was previously acquired by then President J.R. Jayewardene for the expansion of the Parliament Complex.
Several long-time residents were ejected at the time and paid paltry sums as compensation by the state, but the private golf club sold a perch of the developed property at Rs. 600,000 a perch thereafter. Several of these residents have gone to court seeking redress.