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Past and Present Wealthiest of Sri Lanka

Ever wondered who is the richest person in Sri Lanka ? We all know about the world’s richest list but we never heard of a proper list of Sri lankan richest. Most of the wealthiest in the past were exemplary philanthropists. In this article we talk about few past and present wealthiest people in Sri Lanka. 

Forbes Magazine has published the annual list of the world’s richest people for the year 2012 recently. Mexican Telecom tycoon Carlos Slim has been named the world’s richest person for the third year in a row, while Bill Gates and Warren Buffett claimed the second and third positions respectively. Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal are the 19th and 21st in the list from our neighboring country India who were also categorized as the Asia’s richest for couple of years.  As of March 2011 there were 538 known US Dollar billionaires in Asia with 271 from China and 69 from India.

Are there any Sri Lankans in World’s rich list or in Asia’s rich List?

Unfortunately we are unable to give a clear answer to that question as there were no Sri Lankans in Worlds rich list and Asia’s rich list at the moment.

Then who is the richest person in Sri Lanka?

If you have raised this question three four decades ago then surely you could get an exact answer. The famous richest person in Sri Lanka in the 19th Century was Charles Henry De Soyza, “Soysa Mahaththaya” as most locals used to know him. A donor by native, his generosity knew no bounds and reached outside Sri Lanka too. The De Soysa Hospital for Women and hospitals in Lunawa, Marawila and Panadura. The Medical Research Institute, Prince and Princess of Wales Colleges in Moratuwa, all these were built and endowed by him. The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, Brompton Hospital, Royal Free Hospital, Victoria Chest Hospital, the Hospital for Accidents to Dock Labourers, all benefited through his generosity.

A person wealthy enough to produces Rs. One Lack at any given time during the 18th and 19th Century could display a white flag in front of his house, this was referred as “laksheta kodiya danawa” by locals.

 

The richest in the the first half of 20th century
1890’s 1900’s 1910’s 1950’s 1960’s
Jacob de Mel A.E. de Silva Snr Sir Ernest de Silva Sir Ernest Fernando Sir Cyril de Zoysa

Then in 1970’s another well-known person topped the Sri Lanka’s Rich list, Upali Wijewardena. He was a well-known businessman in Sri Lanka who established the Upali Group and even started a domestic airline named Upali Air. He was killed when his private Learjet exploded in midair on February 13, 1983. After his death it was U.N.Gunasekara, Maharajah, Sohli Captain, Anthony Page and H.K. Dharmadasa were known as the richest during 1980 – 2000 period. With the Open Economy policy introduced in the latter part of the 1970’s large number of business personals emerged as new Millionaires and Billionaires.

Lalith Kotelawala, Harry Jayawardena, David Pieris, Dhammika Perera, Mr. Abbas Akbarally, Amaleans, Mr. Hiran Cooray, Ms. Soma Edirisinghe, Ms. Otara Gunawardena, Geshan Wijeratne, Punarjeewa Karunanayaka are some of the personals who filled the rich list in Sri Lanka beginning from the new Millennium and to date.

Businessman Dhammika Perera lead the list of top 20 billionaires of Sri Lanka’s stock market in June 2011. The top 20 Billionaires also have huge wealth in terms of ownership of property here and abroad as well as investments in privately owned companies in Sri Lanka and abroad. Sri Lankan business tycoon Harry Jayawardene or Dirty Harry as most used to referred as, Ronald Perera ,Sumal Perera, the two Selvanathan brothers Ariyaseela Wickramanayake are some of the famous names not in the list.

1.    Mr KD Dhammika Perera   – The Major CSE activist & Now Chairman of Sampath Bank, 2.    Mr Sohil E Captain –     Major shareholder of JKH, 3. Mr Muzaffar Ali Yaseen   – A major Garment Exporter, 4. Mr YSHIK Silva – Chairman of Indra Traders, 5. Mr RM Nanayakkara – Owner of Green Lanka Shipping Company, 6. Mrs Lorraine EM Yaseen, 7.  Mr Anthony Page    – Chairman, Ceylon Theatres Group of Companies, 8. Mr HKJ Dharmadasa – The Son of Nawaloka Mudalali, 9.    Mr VR Page, 10. Ms L A Captain – Daughter of Sohil Captain, 11. Mr Ken Balendra – Chairman of Brandix, 12. Mrs TA Selvaratnam, 13. Dr Sena Yaddehige – Chairman of Richard Pieris Group, 14. Mr GC Wickremesinghe – Director Aitken Spence, 15. Mr JC Page, 16. Ms MM Page, 17. Mr IC Nanayakkara – Deputy Chairman of Lanka Orix Leasing Company, 18. Mr AM Weerasinghe, 19. Mrs KU Amerasinghe, 20. Mr A Devasurendra

Surprisingly, there are no politicians in any of these lists, may be because their wealth more securely kept in Swiss banks. We would like to know the politicians you think that should be included in to the Rich List of Sri Lanka.

Sandun W

Sandun joined Lanka Help Magazine as a contributor in June, 2011. He has been consistently writing articles to our magazine. Many useful articles of this site are under Sandun's name.

8 thoughts on “Past and Present Wealthiest of Sri Lanka

  1. There are so many Zoysa’s who were rich and philanthropists in the past. Cyril De Soyza is one of them who built Kalutara Bodiya. Cyril De Soyza also owned a big factory in Kalutara area – Associated motorways which still provides thousands of jobs to people in the area. Now Kalutara Bodiya is run by the Body trust and it is directly under the supervision of Ajith De Soyza who is one of the son of Sir Cyril de Soyza.

    Also I should mention about the Soyza family who donated all their lands and houses in Colombo 8 to hospitals in the area. De Soyza hospital is one of the best maternity hospital in Sri Lanka. Also some of the buildings still being in used in national hospital belong to Soyza mahaththaya. For example National Hospital’s dermatology ward is still in one of theold buildings which belonged to Soyza family. 

  2. Corrections: R M Nanayakkara is a director of LOLC and founder of Ishara Traders. Muzaffar Ali Yaseen is no longer a garments exporter, he is an investor. For the real Richlist check out http://www.richlistx.blogspot.ca/. I have been monitoring these guys for the last 20 years

  3. What about Prsident’s son Narmal Rajapaksa. this guy uses Bank of ceylon money like his own bank. He buys Lambos x2 his and hers and ship them in a plane, while people walk cannot afford bus fair

  4. Dammika Perera is the richest nowadays. Wealth is around US $500 million/Rs.70 Billion(70,000 million). But that’s not genuine money. He is the guy who handles Our president Mahinda Rajapakse’s and Gotabhaya’s money. He used that capital to invest in Casino’s and stuff. Then invested that money in more businesses. Then he became the richest. He’s clever in business. There’s no doubt about that. But that’s how he got his capital. Thuggery bugger.
    Then comes sohli captain(80). Largest single share holder in sri lanka. He owns 20% of john keels holdings. That’s huge. Invested in other stuff too. Wealth around $300-400 million I guess. His son Rusi Captain(47) is also a businessman. Both studied at Royal College I guess. Pecuilliar people. Living like secret agents. I have never seen them in TV or news paper or anywhere. If any of u know where they live or about their family life, please type below. I can’t even figure out their ethnicity.
    Then comes Harry Jayawardene. Soma Edirisinghe, Otara of Odel……… etc comes after that.

  5. As per current market value true that Mr. Dhammike Perera is the richest person in SL with a value of appr.$500 million, but if we consider people like Sir. Ernest De Silva’s wealth was more than $500 million as per the current value.

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