Nigel Farage denies making misleading Brexit vote concessions that netted millions for hedge funds
Nigel Farage has denied making intentionally misleading remarks which shifted currency markets on the evening of the Brexit referendum.
The former Ukip leader was forced to bat away allegations that he deliberately signalled victory for the Remain side after the polls closed on the Brexit referendum, despite knowing that internal surveys showed Leave had edged victory.
An investigation by the Bloomberg website alleges that pollsters conducted analysis for major hedge funds, showing them that it was likely the UK had voted to the leave the EU.
The studies reportedly allowed businesses to place bets against the UK pound with the knowledge that the eventual Leave result would cause a fall in the value of the currency – allowing them to rake in millions in profits.
But Bloomberg's report also suggested that Mr Farage was aware of the exit polling when he made comments indicating that he was conceding the referendum to Remain.
It suggests that his comments caused a surge in the pound, leading to even greater profits for hedge funds which had taken positions benefiting from heavy swings against the currency.
At 10pm on the evening of the referendum, Mr Farage told Sky News: "It looks like Remain will edge it. Ukip and I are going nowhere and the party will only continue to grow stronger in the future."
An hour later he told reporters for the Press Association: "I don’t know, but I think Remain will edge it, yes… If I am wrong I would be thrilled. But it is what we have seen out and about, and what I know from some of my friends in the financial markets who have done some big polling."
But Mr Farage told Bloomberg that he only became aware of the polling showing his side had won after Survation boss Damian Lyons-Lowe spoke to him later in the evening. He told the website: "That would have been – for he and I to have spoke ahead of that 10 o’clock – would have been wrong at every level.
"Wrong for me, wrong for him, just would have been wrong."
A spokesperson for Mr Farage told The Guardian: "There were many conflicting opinions and supposed polls on the evening. On balance, Nigel was negative until the Sunderland result came in."
"Nigel Farage took no position, and had no financial interest in currency movements on the night of Brexit."
The allegations have already led to a call from Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan to ban hedge funds from commissioning private polling which can be used to make bets on currency shifts before the results are made public.
She told The Times: "If hedge funds are making money from prior knowledge of public information, then the questions needs to be asked whether this should be caught by market abuse legislation."
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister meanwhile said the allegations were "matters for the authorities to look at if they believe there is reason to do so."
A spokesperson for Survation said: "Survation Limited has established itself as a leading opinion poll and research provider, including in respect of referendums and other elections where innovative methodologies are required.
"We work regularly for a wide variety of newspapers, private clients and political parties. Survation does not comment on any confidential client work."