Nine people charged on suspicion of money laundering and tax evasion months after reports of cash-dumping by ethnic MVNO
19 people working for ethnic MVNO Lycamobile have been arrested in France.
The employees arrested include Lycamobile director Alain Jochimek, who appeared with nine others in a French court on Friday charged with offences related to financial fraud.
French prosecutors at the Parquet National Financier said in a statement: “On Wednesday and Thursday, 19 people suspected of being involved in a money-laundering system implicating Lycamobile and Lycamobile Services were arrested.
“The arrests were part of a Paris judicial investigation into money laundering and VAT fraud. Several places in Paris and its outskirts were raided and police seized about €130,000 in cash and €850,000 from bank accounts.
“Nine people were brought in front of a judge on Friday and charged with money laundering among other things, and eight were released on cash bail while one man remained in custody.
“The charges relate to money laundering of at least €17m and VAT fraud of several million euros.”
It follows an investigation last year by Buzzfeed News which accused Lyca depositing “hundreds of thousands of pounds” in rucksacks at post offices across London every day.
The MVNO’s Paris offices were also raided, the reports claim, with bundles of cash seized by French authorities.
Buzzfeed claims it has probed 19 companies that allegedly funnelled tens of millions of euros into the MVNO’s French accounts.
At the time of the original investigation, Lyca denied any wrongdoing, claiming the alleged “cash dumping” was standard practice.
However, former director of public prosecutions Lord MacDonald called the practices “deeply suspicious”.