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Canadian super-tout pops up in Paradise Papers

By | Published on Friday 10 November 2017

Live Music

An industrial-level ticket tout based out of Canada but touting tickets for UK shows has popped up in the much reported Paradise Papers of offshore finances. The papers apparently show that Canadian tout Julien Lavallee ran part of his operation through the Isle Of Man in order to avoid paying UK tax on hundreds of thousands in ticket sales.

Lavallee’s tax arrangements – which are likely legal – have been unearthed alongside¬†an investigation by CBC News in Canada¬†on the scale of his ticket touting operation. The broadcaster has obtained sales records from three Adele concerts in the UK where, despite a four-ticket-per-customer limit, Lavallee’s company reportedly managed to buy up 310 tickets in 25 minutes using fifteen different names and twelve different locations.

The quantity of tickets Lavallee’s firm managed to buy up at speed suggests he was using software to make the purchases, ie those pesky ticket touting bots.

CBS News quotes Reg Walker of Iridium Consultancy as saying: “The speed of the transactions – this isn’t somebody sitting there typing details over and over again. Given the success rate, even if you had a dozen people sitting there typing their details over again, you would not get these results. It’s simply not feasible”.

As previously reported, the UK Parliament only recently moved to make the use of ticket tout bots illegal, though using such technology arguably already breaches the Computer Misuse Act. Industrial touts like Lavallee may also be breaking other consumer protection laws due to the lack of transparency when tickets are sold on the secondary market.

Lavallee is allied with StubHub in the UK, having seemingly bragged in 2015 that he was planning to expand his ticket touting operation from Canada into the British market via a “partnership” with the eBay-owned company. That might simply mean that he has access to the extra services the resale sites often offer top-sellers.

StubHub wouldn’t comment on its relationship with the Canadian, but did say: “StubHub agrees that the use of bots to procure tickets is unfair and anti-consumer. StubHub has always supported anti-bots legislation and encourages policy-makers to look comprehensively at the host of factors that impact a fan’s ability to fairly access, buy, resell, or even give away tickets in a competitive ticket market”.

Meanwhile, back in the Isle Of Man, Lavallee seemingly dissolved the company he had set up there after an investigative journalist came knocking. At his actual HQ in Montreal he declined to comment, but had his lawyer tell CBS: “[Our client] carries out all its activities in accordance with the laws and rules of the jurisdictions in which it operates and sells”.