Lyoness and the vouchers! Legally and financially innocuous?
All loyalty programmes (e.g. Miles&More) have to make financial provisions for non-monetary benefits like collected points or frequent flyer miles, as consumers can decide to redeem them at any point. As an example, Lufthansa has to set up millions on its balance sheet for its high-status miles-club members’ non-expiring frequent flyer miles.
Depending on the marge of the distributor, Lyoness promised its members vouchers up to a certain percentage of the invested sum after making down payments of EUR 2,000. The resulting entitlements for those EUR 2,000 payments make out at least 10% of the payed sum. These should have been financially provided for, even when they haven´t been redeemed. Considering Lyoness’ promise that all would be easy, as everyone would shop, it should’ve counted on a big share of the prepaid vouchers being actually required. This means that millions in vouchers or funds should’ve been set up for this. The same way, the involved distributors should´ve set up voucher reserves to be able to deliver them in cases of full payments. None of this seems to have been taken care of.
Allegedly, the Austrian fiscal authority only shows an interest in operating business activities in Austrian territory involving Austrian companies. Therefore, it suited Lyoness well to close the contracts with consumers and members through a Swiss company. The Swiss members, on the other hand, made the deal with the company Lyoness-Management GmbH, located in Graz (!!) This was never questioned, although the actual recruitment of Austrian members was done in Austria, the recruited distributors were approached from Austria, the vouchers on the orders were from Austrian companies and all connected advertising measures and materials were produced in Austria. Using a Swiss contract partner without operational offices in Buchs (no proof of actuality!), who wasn’t involved operationally, should be fiscally relevant. (The same applies to any other country)
We will see how the remaining voucher partners and the financial police react.
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