Lycamobile seeks legal advice over Lebara “corporate espionage” claims

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MVNO calls in lawyers after investigation by BuzzFeed news accuses rival Lebara of deploying “corporate spies” to tail Lyca staff dumping cash across London

Lycamobile has sought legal advice following a report that claimed rival MVNO Lebara hired corporate spies to investigate its practice of depositing hundreds of thousands of pounds of cash at Post Offices across London.

BuzzFeed News claimed Lebara submitted “prima facie evidence of money laundering” to police a year ago, following an investigation into Lycamobile’s “deeply suspicious” cash practices.

According to the reports, Lebara hired a team to follow Lyca staff, who were found despositing large sums of cash at Post Offices across the capital. Lebara then reported its findings to the National Crime Agency.

In a letter to the news site, a lawyer said to be representing Lebara confirmed a private investigator had been hired to probe “alleged improper business dealings by Lyca” which revealed “prima facie evidence of money laundering” before passing “the results of the investigation to the appropriate authorities.”

BuzzFeed also made claims that Lebara investigators targeted Lycamobile chair Subaskaran Allirajah and other bosses including chief executive, Chris Tooley for surveillance.

Lyca said it called in lawyers following the articles, which it claims allege Lebara has committed “corporate espionage” against it.

A statement from Lycamobile said: “We note that the BuzzFeed articles allege that Lebara has committed corporate espionage against Lycamobile. We are taking such information seriously and again have referred this to our external lawyers to consider all legal options against Lebara.

“BuzzFeed allege that Lebara have committed corporate espionage against Lycamobile. We are taking such information seriously and have referred this to our external lawyers to consider all legal options against Lebara.

“We note further that allegedly a self-created file was passed to the National Crime Agency in 2014. We can confirm that we have not been contacted at all by the NCA or any other authority regarding this alleged file and maintain that we deny all allegations and inferences of wrongdoing and will defend such allegations robustly.”

Private investigators

A spokesperson for Lebara told Mobile News it had engaged private investigators in May 2014 to investigate “large quantities of unused Lebara SIM cards were being removed from retail outlets and dumped at locations in the UK and across mainland Europe.

“During the course of the investigation evidence of unrelated suspicious activity by persons linked to a competitor was discovered,” the spokesperson added. “This was reported to the UK authorities in August 2014.

“On the advice of those authorities, Lebara did not disclose these findings to any other party and is not responsible for the recent Buzzfeed investigation, as the relevant article itself makes clear. We have no further comment to make at this time.”

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