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Money laundering probe: British Govt. rejects French request to raid Allirajah’s company
Published Date: 27/04/2018 (Friday)

By Neville de Silva

The controversial telecom tycoon of Sri Lankan origin Subaskaran Allirajah, boss of Lycamobile, is again at the centre of a French police and media investigation that involves money laundering and tax frauds.

A five-part investigation by BuzzFeed News that has been looking closely at the activities of the Allirajah telecom empire in Britain and elsewhere, including Sri Lanka, has revealed in the 5th part of investigation, of a conflict between French prosecutors and British authorities over a request from across the channel for a raid on the offices of Lycamobile in Britain.

In refusing the French request, British Government officials have cited a curious reason which has set legal and other interested circles asking where British justice is heading.

In its latest report on the Lycamobile expose’ BuzzFeed published on April 19 it has quoted what it calls “confidential correspondence” between British Government officials and French prosecutors in which the British cite the fact that Mr. Allirajah’s Lycamobile is the “biggest corporate donor to the Conservative party” and gives money to a trust founded by Prince Charles.

Legal experts say the reason cited is laughable when less than three years ago the then Prime Minister David Cameron in an attempt to make a name for himself launched an international conference inviting world leaders to London to fight corruption and crimes such as money laundering.

At the same time when news broke about investigations into Mr. Allirajah and Lycamobile there was pressure on Mr. Cameron to return the money that was donated to the Conservative Party.

During the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, Lycamobile, which had diversified into other areas of economic activities, lobbied the then directors of SriLankan Airlines to obtain for itself the GSA for the national airline.

This would then have made other travel agents, especially those of Sri Lankan origin or promoting travel to Sri Lankan dependent on the Allirajah conglomerate to obtain seats on SriLankan Airlines.

The story at the time in London travel circles was that Lycamobile was about to clinch the deal with support from SriLankan Airlines’ chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe, a brother-in-law of President Rajapaksa when the government lost the election in 2015.

Reports said feelers were put to the new directors of the airline but what really transpired and whether Lycamobile was still hoping to do a deal was not clear.

Mr. Allirajah was also keen to buy the shares of Hutchison Telecom Sri Lanka, whose main firm is based in Hong Kong. The Lycamobile boss and his team visited Hong Kong to talk to Hutchison before turning up in Colombo to up end a deal that Mobitel was trying to push through for the Hutch shares.

It is known in Sri Lankan diaspora circles in Britain that Mr. Allirajah lavishly entertains Sri Lankan politicians and high officials he can make contact with to build what is seen as a fruitful relationship.

In turning down a French request for a raid on the offices of Lycamobile which had already run into trouble with The Company House UK for not submitting its annual accounts time, BuzzFeed said the British authorities noted that besides being the biggest corporate donor to the ruling party led by Prime Minister Theresa May, it had donated 1.25m euros to the Prince Charles Trust.

The French request came after authorities there had launched a major probe into the firm two years ago and had arrested 19 people of using its accounts to launder what BuzzFeed says is money from organized criminal networks.

Source: The Sunday Times

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