Elections watchdog launches probe into Brexit bigwig Arron Banks
The UK elections watchdog has launched a probe into controversial Brexit campaigner and multi-millionaire Arron Banks.
The Electoral Commission said it would consider whether the insurance tycoon and one of his firms named Better for the Country Ltd (BFTC) breached finance rules during the EU referendum.
It comes after a Labour MP raised concerns over “dark money” in the campaign and whether there may have been interference from abroad – particularly Russia.
Mr Banks - who himself spent almost £9m on the drive to quit the bloc - said sarcastically that he was "terrified".
BFTC donated some £2.4m to various campaigners during the EU referendum campaign despite not being registered as a permitted participant.
Specifically the watchdog will consider whether BFTC was the true source of donations made to campaigners or “if it was acting as an agent”.
It will also probe whether the correct procedures were followed in the course of donations and whether any cash was passed to people outside of electoral law.
Bob Posner from the Electoral Commission said: “Interest in the funding of the EU referendum campaigns remains widespread.
“Questions over the legitimacy of funding provided to campaigners at the referendum risks causing harm to voters’ confidence.
“It is therefore in the public interest that the Electoral Commission seeks to ascertain whether or not impermissible donations were given to referendum campaigners and if any other related offences have taken place.”
Mr Banks - who is an ally of ex-Ukip leader Nigel Farage and said to be worth some £250m - tried to play it cool on Twitter.
The Leave.EU campaign which was set up by Mr Banks is already under investigation over whether it accepted funds illegally during the campaign.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw last month raised concerns in particular about a payment to the Democratic Unionist Party which was used to advertise for Brexit in the UK.