The UK refused to raid a telco suspected of money laundering, citing its Tory donations

HMRC has come under fire after it refused a request by French authorities to raid the offices of British telecoms operator Lycamobile over suspected of money laundering, citing its donations to the sitting Tory government.

BuzzFeed got hold of an email from the HMRC to French officials, where a senior civil servant responded: “They are the biggest corporate donor to the Conservative party led by Prime Minister Theresa May and donated 1.25m Euros to the Prince Charles Trust in 2012.”

At first, HMRC denied the letter was authentic — going as far as saying: “This is the United Kingdom for God’s sake, not some third world banana republic where the organs of state are in hock to some sort of kleptocracy.”

The revenue service has since admitted the letter is real and that referring to Lycamobile’s political links was a mistake. HMRC claims ties with the Tory party are not the reason they refused to probe the operator, but that French authorities did not provide enough information.

MPs have accused the service of ‘grubby corruption’ and called for an explanation from Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Shadows Chancellor John McDonnell tweeted:

John Mc Donnell

Lycamobile was founded in 2006 by entrepreneur Allirajah Subaskaran and has its headquarters near Canary Wharf, London.

Subaskaran paid to join the Tories’ exclusive Leader’s Group for top donors that dine privately with the prime minister and members of the cabinet, and bankrolled Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s London mayoral campaign.

Back in 2015, BuzzFeed also conducted some excellent investigating and pictured a crew from Lycamobile depositing cash-stuffed rucksacks in Post Offices across London — a practice that experts believe should ‘raise red flags’ with anti-money laundering and tax authorities.

Lycamobile claims this is just ‘day-to-day banking’ but a G4S security van was filmed visiting the company and retrieving as many as 40 sacks of money at a time. The company refused to explain why it’s also sending staff to various Post Offices around the city when an armoured and fully-audited service is at its disposal.

The operator denies any money laundering, and the Conservative Party claims to have stopped receiving donations from the company since 2016.

(Image Credit: Theresa May - Caricature by DonkeyHotey used without modification under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.)

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