Arron Banks under investigation for “criminal offences”

PUBLISHED: 15:35 01 November 2018

Arron Banks is under investigation by the National Crime Agency
Photo: PA /  Jonathan Brady

Arron Banks is under investigation by the National Crime Agency Photo: PA / Jonathan Brady

PA Wire/PA Images

The self-anointed “bad boy of Brexit” Arron Banks is being investigated for “suspected criminal offences committed during the EU referendum”.

Arron Banks with Nigel Farage
Photo: PA / Ben BirchallArron Banks with Nigel Farage Photo: PA / Ben Birchall

The Electoral Commision’s director of poltical finance said the commission has “reasonable grounds” to suspect money donated to Better for the Country came from “impermissible sources”.

However, Banks blamed “intense political pressure” from anti-Brexit supporters for the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) decision to launch an criminal investigation.

READ: MPs call for Brexit to be halted to allow Arron Banks allegations to be investigated.

He claimed the investigation would end what he says are “ludicrous” allegations of wrongdoing during the referendum campaign.

In a statement, the Commission said: “Following its investigation into funding for the 2016 EU referendum, the Electoral Commission has referred: Better for the Country, the organisation that ran the Leave.EU referendum campaign; Arron Banks; Leave.EU; Elizabeth Bilney; and other associated companies and individuals. The National Crime Agency has now launched a criminal investigation.

“The investigation focused on £2m reported to have been loaned to Better for the Country by Arron Banks and his group of insurance companies and a further £6m reported to have been given to the organisation, on behalf of Leave.EU, by Arron Banks alone.

“£2.9m of this money was used to fund referendum spending on behalf of Leave.EU and donations to other campaign groups during the EU referendum.

“Following its investigation, the Commission has reasonable grounds to suspect that:

• Mr Banks was not the true source of the £8m loans made to Better for the Country.

• Loans to Better for the Country, on behalf of Leave.EU, involved a non-qualifying or impermissible company - Rock Holdings Limited, which is incorporated in the Isle of Man.

• Arron Banks, Elizabeth Bilney and others involved in Better for the Country, Leave.EU and associated companies concealed the true details of these financial transactions.

• A number of criminal offences may have been committed.

“Due to multiple suspected offences, some of which fall outside the Commission’s remit, the Commission has referred this matter and handed its evidence to the NCA.”

Bob Posner, the Commission’s director of political finance, added: “We have reasonable grounds to suspect money given to Better for the Country came from impermissible sources and that Mr Banks and Ms Bilney, the responsible person for Leave.EU, knowingly concealed the true circumstances under which this money was provided.

“This is significant because at least £2.9 million of this money was used to fund referendum spending and donations during the regulated period of the EU referendum.”

In a statement, Aaron Banks said: “I am pleased that the Electoral Commission has referred me to the National Crime Agency.

“I am confident that a full and frank investigation will finally put an end to the ludicrous allegations levelled against me and my colleagues.

“There is no evidence of any wrongdoing from the companies I own. I am a UK taxpayer and I have never received any foreign donations. The Electoral Commission has produced no evidence to the contrary.

“The Electoral Commission has referred me to the National Crime Agency under intense political pressure from anti-Brexit supporters.

“I am already in court with the Electoral Commission. In witness statements the Commission has admitted it got its figures wrong in relation to a previous investigation and it even submitted its final report without taking evidence from us.

“Isn’t it funny that none of the financial contributions made by George Soros to British political campaigns are ever subject to any level of scrutiny by the Electoral Commission despite his being a foreign national.”

Bilney also accused the Commission of having a “biased approach” in its investigations and said she was confident she would be “exonerated”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “I hope that the matter will be shortly concluded to demonstrate that no crimes have been committed.”

“They are looking at it how they want to through their own biased lens,” she added.

The Electoral Commission’s review of referendum finances focused on £2 million reported to have been loaned to Better for the Country by Mr Banks and his insurance companies and a £6 million donation he made alone.

The NCA said its investigation relates to suspected electoral law offences.

A spokesman added: “While electoral law offences would not routinely fall within the NCA’s remit, the nature of the necessary inquiries and the potential for offences to have been committed other than under electoral law lead us to consider an NCA investigation appropriate in this instance.”

MORE: JAMES BALL: They are taking the P with the Brexit 50p

Article 50 architect says ministers are trying to deceive MPs on Brexit

‘Almost impossible’ for employers to establish who is entitled to work in UK post-Brexit

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £13

Support The New European's vital role as a voice for the 48%

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

  • Become a friend of The New European for a contribution of £48. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish)
  • Become a partner of The New European for a contribution of £240. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook
  • Become a patron of The New European for a contribution of £480. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook and an A3 print of The New European front cover of your choice, signed by Editor Matt Kelly

By proceeding, you agree to the New Europeans supporters club Terms & Conditions which can be found here.



Supporter Options

Mention Me in The New European



If Yes, Name to appear in The New European



Latest Articles

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Grassroots anti-Brexit campaigners are increasing the pressure on politicians ahead of a series of important votes this year. Here is a list of the events organised across Britain in the coming weeks and months.

Trending

Newsletter Sign Up

The New European weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy