UK company denies being investigated by Lanka

lycamobileA British company has denied claims it is being investigated by Sri Lanka over billions of dollars allegedly stolen from Sri Lanka by associates of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Earlier this week, an investigation conducted by BuzzFeed News said that the offshore empire of the Lycamobile tycoon Subaskaran Allirajah is facing investigation as part of a sprawling international probe into allegations that billions of dollars were stolen from Sri Lanka by associates of the country’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

However Lycamobile, in an emailed statement today, said it denies all allegations and inferences of wrongdoing over the preceding few days and will defend such allegations robustly. Lycamobile said it has asked its external lawyers to review the articles and consider all legal options against BuzzFeed.

“We also 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. With regards the general theme of cash handling, the articles themselves note that there is no suggestion by BuzzFeed of impropriety from the origin of funds to Lycamobile and that they trail those funds to subsequent deposit with institutions such as the Post Office or for collection by G4S. That evidential trail of funds from collection off customers through to deposit in fact illustrates the lawful handling of those funds. We are concerned, though, that BuzzFeed has published video and photos featuring the faces of Lycamobile and Post Office employees, which has heightened the security risk to those individuals when in fact their articles could have been published without such identification. We view those actions as unnecessary and as some readers have commented in response to the articles, has created risk to individuals over processes that are a „non story‟. As a result of the risk created by the manner of reporting we are conducting a full external review to assess what more can be done to protect their safety. We have kept the relevant Police authorities fully aware throughout these publications meanwhile and add that all collection processes are known to relevant authorities for security reasons. We deny all allegations and inferences of wrongdoing over the preceding few days and will defend such allegations robustly,” Lycamobile said.

“We can confirm that we are not aware of any investigation from the Sri Lankan authorities regarding the issues raised in BuzzFeed‟s second article. With regards the references to links with the ex President of Sri Lanka – Mahinda Rajapaksa, BuzzFeed note in their third article, when reviewing the alleged Lebara corporate espionage against Lycamobile that “ The reports by the team of eight former intelligence officers and Scotland Yard detectives did not identify any connection…” We note that BuzzFeed‟s third article says that “Lebara … hired agents to spy on its rival [Lycamobile]”, and that one source “said the mission was to find dirt that Lebara could use to gain commercial advantage over its rival”. 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. We also note that BuzzFeed resorted to taking a private and confidential document from our office, which they do not deny and which we have reported to the Police and which is currently under investigation. Finally, we note the constant political references and cannot ignore that there is a real sense from the theme of the articles that this series may have been politically motivated and/or led by Lebara,” Lycamobile added.

Meanwhile Lebara said:

“During the first quarter of 2014 we became increasingly concerned that large quantities of unused Lebara SIM cards were being removed from retail outlets and dumped at locations in the UK and across mainland Europe. Our legal representatives engaged a third-party firm of investigators in May 2014 to identify how this was happening.

During the course of the investigation evidence of unrelated suspicious activity by persons linked to a competitor was discovered. 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.”