UK major crimes squad opens probe into Brexit funder

  • Electoral Commission doesn’t believe businessman Aaron Banks was real source of millions of pounds he donated to campaign to leave the EU
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 9:33pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 9:44pm

Britain’s serious and organised crime police on Thursday opened an investigation into businessman Arron Banks, the main donor to the Brexit campaign.

“Our investigation relates to suspected electoral law offences … as well as any associated offences,” the National Crime Agency said in a statement, following a referral from the Electoral Commission over the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign.

The NCA said its criminal investigation would focus on Banks himself, as well as two companies associated with him – Better for the Country (BFTC) and campaign group Leave.EU.

They will also investigate Leave.EU chief Elizabeth Bilney.

The Electoral Commission, an independent body set up to ensure electoral rules are respected, said its investigation focused on £2 million (US$2.6 million) reported to have been loaned to BFTC by Banks and his insurance companies.

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They also looked into a further £6 million reported to have been given to the organisation on behalf of Leave.EU by Banks alone.

Some of that money – £2.9 million – was used to fund referendum spending on behalf of Leave.EU and donations to other campaign groups during the referendum, the Electoral Commission said.

It said it had “reasonable grounds” to suspect Banks was not the true source of the £8 million loans made to BFTC.

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The commission also said it suspected the loans involved a company incorporated in the Isle of Man, a British crown dependency, which is not allowed under British electoral law.

“A number of criminal offences may have been committed,” it said.

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