This 2012 video by ABC News from Australia says about itself:
And now, six years later …
By Lamiat Sabin in Britain, Friday, April 20, 2018:
Tory donor ‘fraud firm’ protected from raids
HMRC refuses French request to investigate Lycamobile
CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has serious questions to answer about HMRC “stonewalling” French requests to inspect the Tories’ biggest corporate donor over money laundering and tax fraud allegations, Labour said today.
The revenue told French tax officers it would not seek a search warrant for the London headquarters of telecoms company Lycamobile, which donated more than £2 million to the Tories up until 2016.
The transnational also gave more than £1 million to the Prince Charles Trust, according to a BuzzFeed investigation reported today.
An HMRC email to the French government explaining that it would not probe the matter actively cites the fact that Lycamobile is the Tories’ biggest corporate donor.
The missive also notes: “[Lycamobile have] significant resources at their disposal and are extremely unlikely to agree to having their premises searched without instructing their own lawyers to look at any search warrant in detail.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell called on Mr Hammond to immediately explain the behaviour of HMRC and ensure that there “was no undue pressure exerted by Conservative Party politicians or officials.”
He also said: “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.”
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.”
The Commons Treasury committee announced today that it will examine why the government refused to help the French authorities.
Labour MP Meg Hillier, chair of spending watchdog the public accounts committee, is also planning to grill HMRC civil servants when they appear before the Commons committee this month.
French prosecutors launched their investigation into Lycamobile two years ago and have arrested 19 people accused of using its accounts to launder money from organised criminal networks.
BuzzFeed has reported that men deployed by Lycamobile with rucksacks full of cash had been secretly filmed depositing £250,000 at a time at post offices.
These daily cash deposits by the bagmen were taking place while Tories were accepting company donations.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Friday, April 20, 2018
There’s a bad smell emanating from the Tory Party
TORIES insist that all donations to their party are “properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission … and comply fully with the law.”
They claim there is no cause for concern over HMRC failure to investigate money laundering and tax fraud allegations against their party’s biggest corporate donor Lycamobile.
Yet there is clearly a bad smell emanating from somewhere since the Tory Party decided nearly two years ago to cease taking donations from the company after helping themselves to £2 million.
Assuming that the HMRC email explaining reluctance to probe laundering and fraud allegations because of Lycamobile’s relationship with the Tories is genuine, this issue cannot be swept under the carpet.
Imagine that this wasn’t a transnational corporation and a Tory government but a Labour administration on whose watch HMRC had refused to examine similar charges against a trade union that gave financial backing to Labour.
Would Theresa May or Chancellor Philip Hammond reassure us in such circumstances that all was above board, nothing to see here, move along please?
They and their friends in the right-wing media would be all over it like a rash, insisting on a forensic examination of union and HMRC and fulminating about the inevitability of a corrupt relationship between Labour and its “union baron paymasters”.
If HMRC, the agency responsible for ensuring that every individual and corporate body pays the required level of taxation, felt it had the right to give — or lacked the authority to refuse — the largest Tory corporate donor a free pass over these serious charges, this requires urgent investigation.
We have seen in recent decades sweetheart taxation deals cut between senior HMRC officials and major companies that have aroused widespread anger.
But the added element of a transnational corporation shovelling funds into the country’s ruling party takes on a more sinister hue.
The Commons Treasury committee announcement that it will question HMRC staff about the decision not to work with the French revenue service to investigate Lycamobile is welcome.
There can be no justification for attempts to sweep this potential scandal under the carpet simply because it is embarrassing to May, Hammond and their cronies.
It is not acceptable that anonymous HMRC “sources” are deployed to smooth things over, to explain that the email reference to the Tory Party was simply “background information” and to suggest that this is all a storm in a teacup.
The time for flannel is over. Openness and accountability dictate that the Treasury committee should get the drains up.