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Arron Banks faces criminal inquiry over Brexit campaign

Arron Banks. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

LONDON, november 1, 2018- The National Crime Agency has launched an investigation into Arron Banks and other people and groups linked to the leave campaign over suspected criminal offences in the Brexit referendum, it has announced.

An Electoral Commission statement said its investigation focused on £2m reported to have been lent to Better for the Country, a company he used to finance the Leave.EU campaign, and £6m more reportedly given to the organisation, on behalf of Leave.EU, by Banks.

The Electoral Commission statement said: “Due to multiple suspected offences, some of which fall outside the commission’s remit, the commission has referred this matter and handed its evidence to the National Crime Agency.”

The NCA confirmed it had begun an investigation connected to “suspected electoral law offences covered by that referral, as well as any associated offences”.

It said in a statement: “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.”

Banks, formerly a major bankroller of Ukip, has denied any wrongdoing. Andy Wigmore, a spokesperson for Leave.EU, said: “It’s completely to be expected. It will finally bring a head to all these crazy allegations made about us. We’re not worried.”

The investigation centres on the suspicion Banks “was not the true source” of the £8m of loans made to Better for the Country, and that loans involved funds from a “non-qualifying or impermissible company” based in the Isle of Man.

The Electoral Commission statement said the investigation would look into whether Banks, Bilney and others involved in Better for the Country, Leave.EU and associated companies “concealed the true details of these financial transactions”.

Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission’s director of political finance and regulation, 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.

“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.”  www.theguardian.com




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