Lycamobile offices 'raided over fraud allegations' – report
French authorities reportedly suspect money coming from shell companies
The offices of telecoms giant Lycamobile have been raided in France amid allegations of fraud and money laundering.
Nineteen people were arrested in Paris last week and nine of them were charged on Friday, including Lycamobile’s general manager in France, Alain Jochimek, reported Buzzfeed.
The Register has contacted UK-headquartered Lycamobile for a comment but it has not responded. According to Buzzfeed, it has not responded to the site's repeated requests for comment either.
A probe was launched last year when cash collectors working for the biz were caught on camera by Buzzfeed dropping off rucksacks containing hundreds of thousands of pounds at post offices in London.
According to the site, the French authorities have spotted money coming into Lyca's accounts from shell companies suspected of acting as fronts for various networks laundering profits from crime.
Lycamobile has previously denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the filmed cash drops were just “day to day banking”.
The company is one of the largest corporate donors to the Conservative Party, with the firm having donated £2.2m since 2011, including half a million pounds last year.
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “All donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with Electoral Commission rules.”
A spokesman from the French prosecutors at Parquet National Financier (PNF) told the Daily Mail: "On Wednesday and Thursday, 19 people suspected of being involved in a money-laundering system implicating Lycamobile and Lycamobile Services were arrested."
The said nine people had been charged with money laundering of at least £13.4 million and VAT fraud. Eight were released on bail while one man was kept in custody. Lycamobile has denied financial malpractice. ®
Updated to add
Lycamobile has been in touch to stress that the "French authorities have not taken any action" against the company directly. A spokesperson told us:
Lycamobile strongly denies all allegations of wrongdoing as reported by BuzzFeed media and subsequent news reports. Accordingly, Lycamobile is taking all appropriate legal action to ensure that its reputation is upheld, and to address the denigrating allegations propagated by BuzzFeed.