Police investigate Arron Banks over ‘suspected criminal offences’ linked to £8m in loans for Leave campaign
- Insurance millionaire, 52, faces National Crime Agency probe over referendum
- Banks and Leave.EU loaned £8million to Brexit company Better for the Country
- £2.9m of money was used to fund referendum spending ahead of public vote
- Police will now investigate claims that he was not the ‘true source’ of the money
- Elizabeth Bilney, CEO of Leave.EU, is also being investigated by the police
Leave campaigner Arron Banks has been referred to Britain’s FBI for suspected crimes carried out during the EU referendum campaign
Leave campaigner Arron Banks has been referred to Britain’s FBI for suspected crimes carried out during the EU referendum campaign.
The Electoral Commission has referred the insurance millionaire to the National Crime Agency who have launched an investigation today into ‘multiple suspected offences’.
There are reasonable grounds to suspect that Banks was not the ‘true source’ of £8million of loans to the unofficial Brexit campaign group, the commission has said.
And it is alleged there is reason to believe he was part of a conspiracy to ‘conceal the true details of these financial transactions’.
Liz Bilney, CEO of Leave.EU, is also being investigated by detectives.
Banks personally loaned £2million to Better for the Country, the company used to finance the Leave.EU campaign and he also gave £6million to the same company, on behalf of Leave.EU.
But police will now investigate claims that he was not the ‘true source’ of the money and whether it was from a company or individuals abroad, which could break British electoral law.
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Liz Bilney, CEO of Leave.EU, pictured in 2015, is also being investigated by detectives
Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission’s director of political finance and regulation and legal counsel, said: ‘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 £2.9m of this money was used to fund referendum spending and donations during the regulated period of the EU referendum.
What is the law on political donations?
Donations to electoral candidates and political campaigns are governed by the Representation of the People Act 1983.
The act gives a list of ‘permissible donors’ which include:
- An individual registered on a UK electoral register, including overseas electors.
- A Great Britain or Northern Ireland registered political party UK-registered companies, trade unions or building societies.
- A UK-based unincorporated association that carries on business or other activities in the UK.
‘Our investigation has unveiled evidence that suggests criminal offences have been committed which fall beyond the remit of the Commission. This is why we have handed our evidence to the NCA to allow them to investigate and take any appropriate law enforcement action. This is now a criminal investigation.
‘The financial transactions we have investigated include companies incorporated in Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. These jurisdictions are beyond the reach of the Electoral Commission for the purpose of obtaining information for use in criminal investigations or proceedings.’
The National Crime Agency said in a statement: ‘The NCA has initiated an investigation concerning the entities Better for the Country (BFTC) and Leave.EU; as well as Arron Banks, Elizabeth Bilney and other individuals. This follows our acceptance of a referral of material from the Electoral Commission.
‘Our investigation relates to suspected electoral law offences covered by that referral, as well as any associated offences.
‘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.
‘This is now a live investigation, and we are unable to discuss any operational detail.’
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