Brexit-backing businessman Aaron Banks – who donated millions to Leave.EU and has previously had lunch with the Russian ambassador – has been busy on Twitter in recent days questioning Russia’s involvement with the Salisbury attack …
In crime you look for a motive , it’s almost enough to make you think the Russian’s are being set up? https://t.co/GoLDgORFwQ
— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) March 11, 2018
The ‘hysteria’ over it…
It’s not hard to spot hysteria Dan. Russia a nice convenient enemy at the moment… meanwhile in the real world London crime surging , rape , abuse and murder a plenty https://t.co/w08nTKGH3l
— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) March 14, 2018
And the threat posed generally by the country…
I’m not going to change my views because of some hysteria. I view radical Islam as a much greater threat than Christian Russia. The real threat to this country lies within https://t.co/bq0FOjDT0F
— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) March 15, 2018
The comments come in the context of wider concerns about the possibility of “illegal financial funding from Russia” and the “role of dark money” in the EU referendum.
Banks has colourfully denied any illegal activity, however, including use of money from abroad:
“My sole involvement with ‘the Russians’ was a boozy 6 hour lunch with the Ambassador where we drank the place dry.”
But it’s worthwhile re-capping the extant questions over Banks’ Brexit campaign.
Banks and his company Better For The Country Limited (BFTCL) are currently being investigated by the Electoral Commission for providing donations and loans totalling £8.4m to Leave.EU, £6m of which Banks claims to have provided personally.
The regulator are, in their own words, investigating:
“Whether or not Better for the Country Limited was the true source of donations made to referendum campaigners in its name, or if it was acting as an agent.”
And according to new financial statements, the scale of BFTCL’s involvement with Leave.EU may have been greater than previously thought.
New accounts submitted to Companies House just a week ago show BFTCL provided £13m in ‘administrative services’ to Leave.EU in 2016 and 2017.
It’s unclear whether this sum is included in the Electoral Commission’s investigation, which is still ongoing.
In a statement to the FT back in November 2017, Banks boasted that Brexit campaigners were “just cleverer than the regulators and the politicians” and denied breaking the law.