Political

Biggest Tory donor raided by police on suspicion of money laundering and tax fraud

The Conservative party’s biggest donor, the telecoms giant Lycamobile, has been raided by French police on suspicion of money laundering and tax fraud, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

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.

The investigation was launched in the wake of revelations by BuzzFeed News last year that the international telecoms group employs three cash couriers to drop rucksacks stuffed with hundreds of thousands of pounds twice a day at Post Offices scattered across London…

The Conservative party has accepted donations of more than £2.2 million from Lycamobile. Its Sri Lankan-born owner, Subaskaran Allirajah, is a member of the exclusive Leader’s Group for top donors and has dined privately with the prime minister or members of his cabinet twice in the past six months. He is also close to Boris Johnson after bankrolling his London mayoral campaign. [Buzzfeed]

As The Guardian reported back in May:

Lycamobile, the largest donor to the Conservative party, uses a complex web of offshore and UK companies so opaque that its own auditors cannot account for £134m of assets…

Accounts filed by Lycamobile at Companies House reveal that auditors KPMG warned that its staff “have not obtained all the information and explanations that we consider necessary for the purposes of the audit”.

KPMG highlighted £134m owed to Lycamobile by related companies, “for which the audit evidence available to us was limited because of the complex nature of the related party structure the company operates within”.

The big four accounting firm, which has signed off Lycamobile’s accounts since its rival EY resigned in 2014, added that it was “unable to determine whether adequate accounting records have been kept”.

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