Top Tory Donor Protected from Money Laundering Investigation
A letter leaked to Buzzfeed news has shown that the British authorities refused to help a French investigation into charges of money laundering and tax evasion at the large multinational telecoms firm, Lycamobile, while flagging up Lycamobile’s donations to the Conservative Party.
The correspondence, denying the French authorities permission to raid Lycamobile’s London headquarters, dated March 17th 2017 states that:
“Lycamobile are a large multinational company with a 2015 revenue recorded as 1.6bn Euros. They have significant resources at their disposal and are extremely unlikely to agree to having their premises searched”
“It is of note that they are the biggest corporate donor to the Conservative party led by Theresa May and donated 1.25m Euros to the Prince Charles Trust.”
HMRC have now called the reference to political donations “regrettable”, with a spokesman claiming: “We never take political donations into account when working out how to work with other countries, or indeed on our own, in enforcing the tax law,”.
Lycamobile’s owner, Subaskaran Allirajah, has deep ties with the Conservative party, and has previously helped to bankroll Boris Johnstone’s 2012 London mayoral campaign. He also paid more than £50,000 to join the ‘Leaders Group’, a collection of Tory donors who dined regularly with ex-Prime Minister, David Cameron.
A spokesman for Lycamobile said: "Lycamobile has not contributed to the Conservative Party since July 2016. Lycamobile continue to deny all allegations being implied by BuzzFeed.”
The Conservatives are now under pressure to explain why they continued to take money from Lycamobile, even after evidence of suspicious behaviour by Lycamobile came to light.
John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, has responded by saying:
“If true, these are deeply concerning revelations. The fact that a Tory donor could be allowed to potentially subvert the system will look bad to taxpayers who play by the rules.
“The Tories have serious questions to answer on this matter, and I hope the Chancellor immediately comes forward to explain this behaviour by HMRC and ensure there was no undue pressure exerted by Conservative Party politicians or officials.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "HMRC is a Government agency, it is part of our Government and it should investigate every company without fear and without favour about its tax affairs to make sure they pay the correct amount of tax and there's no hiding place, no evasion from it, whoever they are.”