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    A pedestrian walks past the headquarters of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in central London, Britain in this February 13, 2015 file photo

    Labour's John McDonnell Demands to Know Why No Raid on Tory Donors Lycamobile

    © REUTERS / Stefan Wermuth/Files
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    The British government, and their tax authorities, have been urged to explain why the UK offices of the communications firm Lycamobile were not raided despite a request by French police. The Labour Party claims it is no coincidence Lycamobile donated £2 million (US$2.29 million) to the Conservative Party.

    The French branch of Lycamobile, one of the world leaders in cheap pre-paid mobile phone cards, is being investigated in Paris for alleged money laundering and VAT fraud and nine people have been arrested.

    The Brigade of Investigations and Financial Investigations (BRIF) of the Paris judicial police arrested a number of people.

    According to BuzzFeed, the French authorities then asked Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in England to raid Lycamobile's offices.

    Lycamobile Donated Money to Tories Between 2011 And 2016

    But they declined to issue a search warrant and there was allegedly an exchange of internal emails, which BuzzFeed claims to have seen, in which reference was made to the fact that Lycamobile — who were founded by Sri Lankan immigrant Subaskaran Allirajah, donated almost £2 million ($2.29 million) to the Tories since 2011.

    A spokesman for 10 Downing Street admitted to Sky News that Lycamobile's funding of the Tories was mentioned by HMRC when they refused a search warrant, but insisted the information "wasn't taken into account in the decision."

    "We're absolutely clear that we take a zero-tolerance approach to corruption," the spokesman added.

    But Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, at a Labour Party event in London on Thursday, April 19, said serious questions needed to be answered about the Lycamobile affair.

    "BuzzFeed said is there any association between not having a raid on their office and the fact that they are Tory donors. HMRC's response was, quote, 'we're not a banana republic. That doesn't go on here.' BuzzFeed responded and said that's very strange because we have the internal emails which refer to them being major Tory donors," Mr. McDonnell said.

    "If that was us in government, it would have been all over the front pages of every newspaper and it would have been the top of the BBC news. So we're not going to let them get away with it….this is about the arrogance of the Tory party who think they can get away with anything they want," said Mr. McDonnell.

    Call for Chancellor to Explain Why No Raid

    He said the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, needed to come to the House of Commons and explain exactly why HMRC decided not to raid Lycamobile's London office.

    Lycamobile says it has not contributed to the Conservative Party since July 2016 and continues to deny all allegations.

    The company is suing BuzzFeed France and the website's editor for defamation over an article published in June 2016.


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