No Russian money in Brexit donations: Banks

Arron Banks has said his donations to the Brexit campaign came from his own bank account and that there was “no Russian money, no interference” in the £8mn he gave to the unofficial Leave campaign. The founder of Leave.EU, whom the Electoral Commission referred to the National Crime Agency (NCA), said he wanted to state “absolutely for the record, there was no Russian money or interference of any type, I just want to be absolutely clear about that”. The £8mn donation was the largest in British history.Banks, appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, claimed the money came from his UK company Rock Services, generated by his group of insurance businesses.

 “The money came from Rock Services, which was a UK limited company. It was generated out of insurance business written in the UK,” Banks said. “Contrary to some of the press reports … we turn over £250mn of premium, it’s a sizeable business.” Banks has previously said his company Rock Services did not generate income. He told the digital, culture, media and sport select committee that it was “a treasury function, it just delivers the cash … It is just a service company. The actual loan came from another one of my companies that was delivered in.”

When Marr put it to Banks that Rock Services was a “shell company … which doesn’t generate that kind of money”, Banks said the income came from insurance profits and was “UK-generated”. However, he refused to say which of his companies had generated the income for Rock Services. “It has all sorts of revenue … it’s a group of companies,” Banks said. “Your understanding of it is wrong. (The donations) came from me – I am Rock Services, the companies belong to me and I am a UK taxpayer.”  Banks said he had provided bank statements to The Andrew Marr Show, though Marr said they had been redacted, and that “no money” came from the Isle of Man-based company Rock Holdings, which owns both UK-based and international businesses.

Banks said the Electoral Commission had not asked for his bank statements and that a QC had signed off the loan structure for the donation. The NCA announced last week that it was investigating allegations of criminal offences by Banks and Leave.EU. The businessman said the NCA would “see it for what it is” and suggested he would be vindicated. Banks also said he stood by a comment in the Sunday Times this week that he would now vote to remain in the EU, blaming the “corruption” in British politics. “The sewer that exists, the disgraceful behaviour of the government in how they are selling us out means that if I had my time again, I think we would have been better to probably remain and not unleash these demons,” he said.

Banks’s appearance on the show came after it emerged he may have misled parliament over links between his pro-Brexit campaign and his insurance business during the EU referendum. Hundreds of internal e-mails leaked by former employees from Eldon Insurance and Rock Services to the Observer suggest that – despite categorical denials by Banks – insurance staff worked on the Leave.EU campaign from their company offices. Any work carried out in the months before the referendum should have been declared under electoral law. Banks said it had been declared and that people from Eldon had “transferred over on short-term contracts, legally, and it was reported in the right way”.

Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times