Lycamobile Germany GmbH is broke. But the background is curious: It is about 70 million euros in tax debts. A lot of expats in Germany and travelers use prepaid cards because they are convenient. Lycamobile is one of the more popular ones in Germany. They are now broke and insolvent. What will happen to your phone number if you use them?
Lycamobile: Anyone who has ever checked the prepaid mobile phone cards at the checkout in the supermarkets in Germany should be familiar with the name Lycamobile. Now you can’t find the cards at the till – Lycamobile is broke. The German subsidiary of the British Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) filed for bankruptcy on May 18. Shortly before, on May 7th, Lycamobile Germany GmbH changed its name to Amalasandan Dienstleistungen GmbH.
Lycamobile: liquidator cannot access any documents
▶ The lawyer Jan Roth was eventually appointed as insolvency administrator – and faced a huge problem. Because the company had an office in Frankfurt, but there were no employees to be found there. The old name, Lycamobile, could still be read on the doorbell. Now the liquidator cannot access the data he needs to work.
Lycamobile Germany: The managing director as the only employee
In addition, Christopher Tooley is now the only employee at Amalasandan GmbH. In 2012 Lycamobile Germany still had 185 employees. For years it has only been the managing director, who, however, is based in London. Sales have also been decreasing since the dispute with the tax office. In 2013 they were still at 111 million euros, in 2017 it was less than ten million.
▶ Germany isn’t the only country struggling with Lycamobile, however. In France and Great Britain, the mobile operator has already come into focus through allegations of money laundering and sales tax evasion.
Long argument with tax authorities
According to Roth, a dispute with the tax authorities led to bankruptcy. An external audit already showed in 2016 that Lycamobile Germany had not paid the sales tax on sales generated in Germany. Lycamobile probably did not think this was necessary because from 2013 it provided its services against commission for an Irish sister company. However, the tax authorities prevail through all judicial bodies. Your claims against Lycamobile were most recently at more than 70 million euros.
Lycamobile Germany’s last defeat took place in February 2021 in front of the Federal Fiscal Court. On May 7, 2021, the company was renamed and was now called Amalasandan Dienstleistungen GmbH. The bankruptcy petition followed on May 18. The management left the insolvency administrator hardly a trace.
▶ According to Handelsblatt research, Amalasandan Dienstleistungen GmbH does not have its own office, and all business documents are beyond the reach of the insolvency administrator. The only employee is based in London: Managing Director Christopher Tooley. He is also the CEO of the entire company. Globally, Lycamobile claims to have 15 million customers in 23 countries. The estimated turnover is two billion euros.
Impact on Lycamobile customers?
This process should not have any noticeable impact on Lycamobile customers. The website lycamobile.de, which can still be reached, states Lycamobile Europe Limited with the “registered address”: 3rd Floor, Walbrook Building, 195 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9SG, United Kingdom as the “license holder BNetzA”. According to Google Maps, the company’s headquarters are on the Isle of Dogs in London’s Docklands.
On the website, the company is registered under the commercial register number: Registrar of Companies (England and Wales) 09385794, the German VAT identification number is DE306653122 and Christopher Tooley is given as the managing director (director), who according to the business information website companyhouse.de is also Managing Director of Amalasandan Services GmbH.
Lycamobile used creative accounting
About problems with the tax authorities, the daily newspaper “Die Welt” reported under the title already in 2016 Lycamobile – The creepy telephone empire in detail. At that time, the world certified that the company had “creative bookkeeping” in order to transfer profits as far as possible to countries where little taxes were to be paid.
In spite of the obligation to register, new SIM cards have been activated without giving or checking personal data, and the cards are particularly “popular” in the gang area and organized crime.
Don’t top up your Lycamobile with too much credit
Sensitive customers who use a prepaid SIM card from Lycamobile should only top up as much credit as can be safely used in the near future. We know from our own experience that Lycamobile prepaid cards can be switched off at relatively short notice if credit is not topped up regularly.
This is also indicated by the hotline that can be reached on a Frankfurt number, which usually speaks understandable German and is presumably located in Great Britain.