Influential Leave.EU donor Arron Banks has today been referred to the National Crime Agency after the Electoral Commission found evidence of multiple suspected offences.
Banks ploughed millions of pounds into the Leave.EU campaign and another campaign called Better for the Country during the referendum.
But according to new information released today the funding will now be investigated as part of a possible criminal conspiracy.
“The investigation focused on £2m reported to have been loaned to Better for the Country by Arron Banks and his group of insurance companies and a further £6m reported to have been given to the organisation, on behalf of Leave.EU, by Arron Banks alone,” the Electoral Commission said in a statement.
“£2.9m of this money was used to fund referendum spending on behalf of Leave.EU and donations to other campaign groups during the EU referendum.”
It said that its investigations had concluded that Banks “was not the true source of the £8m loans made to Better for the Country” as part of a possible criminal conspiracy, HuffPo News has revealed.
Banks was named by the Commission alongside Elizabeth Bilney “and others involved in Better for the Country”.
Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission’s director of political finance and regulation and legal counsel, 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.”
The National Crime Agency said in a statement: “The NCA has initiated an investigation concerning the entities Better for the Country (BFTC) and Leave.EU; as well as Arron Banks, Elizabeth Bilney and other individuals. This follows our acceptance of a referral of material from the Electoral Commission.”