Arron Banks Insists There’s "No Evidence" Leave.EU Took Russian Money

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 14, 2018

Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit financier, told MPs that he thought it would be worthwhile meeting a Russian businessman fronting a gold-mining deal at the suggestion of the country's ambassador in the United Kingdom, but pulled out after City grandees warned him not to become more deeply involved.

Banks: "Not really, we'd had a very pleasant lunch with him that lasted six hours." . Mr Banks has said he will appeal against the ruling. Banks said he never entered into the deal.

His appearance comes after Prime Minister Theresa May said calls for an inquiry into alleged links between Russian Federation and the campaign to leave the European Union are a matter for the police.

"Where is the evidence we took Russian money".

Mr. Banks was the biggest financial backer of the pro-Brexit side during the 2016 referendum, contributing £9.4-million, or $16-million, to a group called Leave.EU that was led by Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party. "It all really comes from two witnesses that really do lack credibility", he said, adding that Leave.EU did not hire Cambridge Analytica. Banks told MPs that he went to meet the Russian because had been invited at the prompting of Wigmore, who also acted as a trade envoy for Belize.

He did acknowledge the meetings, but denied traveling to Moscow in 2016 as the Times reported. "What were you hoping to get out of it?" "I would support that in many ways". Banks said they had run past their agreed time and that he had a lunch date.

Mr Banks agreed to give evidence to the committee after previously pulling out as he accused MPs of conducting a "witch hunt".

Wigmore said he instigated the meeting at a UKIP conference and had since met Russian figures "many times". One of the meetings was a November 2016 lunch three days after Banks visited Donald Trump, then president-elect, along with Farage and another prominent Brexit campaigner, Andy Wigmore. "What's wrong with that?" But Alexander Nix, the company's chief executive officer, later told lawmakers the company never did any work, "paid or unpaid", for Leave.EU, and Banks said the same on Tuesday.

Mr Wigmore said one phone number was passed to the ambassador during the meeting so the Kremlim could contact Mr Trump's transition team. According to Wigmore, she has said: "This young girl said, 'You're British, do you have the telephone number for No 10 Downing Street? I'm sorry about that but we're late".

The commission fined Leave.EU over its funding and spending during the campaign, and said it didn't "correctly report" the contributions from Banks. Collins told the committee that as a result it would not be possible for the committee to explore related areas.

The Leave.EU founder said the group used "alternative methods" to influence the Brexit vote. "Perhaps you might want to recuse yourself and let one of the other people take over as chair?" The MP said: "Chelsea won 2-1, that was the extent of the entertainment".

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