Time 107.5 parent company convicted of fraud in France

Heidi Blake from Buzzfeed news has been talking online about her investigation into Lycamobile.

She sent a series of tweets on Friday:

Lycamobile, the telecoms giant and Tory donor, has been convicted in France of an “elaborate money laundering system” that was first exposed by our i-team at @BuzzFeedNews. Former CEO Chris Tooley & another executive have been jailed for VAT fraud.

This verdict was a long time coming. Back in 2015, our team established over six weeks of surveillance that the company was employing three literal bagmen to deposit rucksacks stuffed with millions of pounds in cash at Post Offices all over London.

We went on to reveal that Lycamobile was linked to suspected money laundering by the nephew of a former Sri Lankan president accused of corruption and war crimes.

Nonetheless, the British authorities declined to investigate, and the Tories kept taking Lycamobile’s cash.

But the French police launched an investigation based on our findings. In 2016, Lycamobile’s Paris HQ was raided and 19 people were arrested on suspicion of money laundering and tax fraud.

Our team then visited 19 companies that had allegedly funnelled tens of millions of euros into Lycamobile’s French accounts and found that all but one were registered at PO boxes, vacant offices, derelict buildings, or a construction site.

Still, the British authorities looked away. In 2018, we revealed the UK had refused to assist the French probe – citing the fact that the company is the “biggest corporate donor to the Conservative party” and gives money to Prince Charles’s trust.

The Tories quietly stopped taking fresh donations from Lycamobile in 2016, but by then the party had already accepted more than £2m. Now that the company has been found guilty of money laundering, what will happen to those funds @CCHQPress?

Time 107.5 has been owned by Lyca Media II Ltd, a subdivision of Lycamobile, since 2014.