Theresa May is coming under increasing pressure to explain reports that in the run up to the EU referendum she blocked security services investigating Leave.EU and Ukip backer Arron Banks – now the subject of a National Crime Agency investigation into concealing where the phenomenal amounts of money he donated to the Brexit campaign came from.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has written to the Prime Minister to explain her behaviour two years ago when Home Secretary.
“The Government hiding behind the usual “neither confirm nor deny” formulation when dealing with intelligence issues won’t do,” the MP tweeted today. “This is an alleged crime to subvert our democracy. Did May or did she not resist an investigation?”
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, made the allegation against the Prime Minister at the Labour party conference in September, demanding to know if she “asked the security services to investigate? Or did she stop them doing so?”
Watson added: “there is a suggestion that in the run-up to the referendum the prime minister – in her capacity at the time as home secretary – declined at least one application from the security services to mount a full investigation into Mr Banks and others suspected of Russian influence. We need to know if that is true.”
The Daily Mail this week reported their investigation that found that Theresa May as Home Secretary refused a request by “one of the security services” to investigate Banks’ unusual donations to the campaign as it was “simply too explosive in the run-up to the referendum.”
The Electoral Commission this week confirmed that it suspected that vast amounts of Leave.EU campaign money had come from concealed and “impermissible sources.”
This week the watchdog issued a statement saying: “following its investigation into funding for the 2016 EU referendum, the Electoral Commission has referred: Better for the Country, the organisation that ran the Leave.EU referendum campaign; Arron Banks; Leave.EU; Elizabeth Bilney; and other associated companies and individuals.
Their criminal investigation into Banks will look at a Brexit money trail that stretches through tax havens like the Isle of Man and Gibraltar, and further afield.
According to the Guardian newspaper, Banks has set up 37 different companies in slightly different versions of his name such as Arron Fraser, Andrew Banks, Arron Banks, Aron Fraser Andrew Banks etc.
The tycoon was linked to the Panama papers tax avoidance scandal though he fiercely denies any wrongdoing.
Banks had been a Conservative Party donor, but his changed his support to Ukip, becoming a big donor for them ever since 2014, and even suggesting he stand as an MP for the Eurosceptic party.
Nobody has been able to explain how with his business interests, Banks was able to become the biggest single political donor in British history funnelling £8.4 million to the Leave.EU from himself and through Better for the Country Ltd – the company that ran the Leave.Eu campaign – a company of which Banks is a registered director.
The electoral Commission this week suspecting that Banks is not the true source of millions funnelled to the campaign, announced that the National Crime Agency was taking over their investigation due to “suspected criminal offences”.
£2m was reported loaned to Better for the Country by Banks and his companies, as well as £6m which was reported to have been given to the Better for the Country via Leave.EU yet intended for Leave.EU’s campaign spending.
According to the election watchdog’s investigation, the loans involved a company, Rock Holdings, based on the Isle of Man in breach of election rules. The probe found that Banks and others concealed the true nature of funds funnelled to the Brexit campaign and “a number of criminal offences may have been committed”.
The probe has found ‘reasonable grounds to suspect’ that the tycoon was not the ‘true source’ of the millions loaned to Better For The Country.
“I have today written to the prime minister to ask if she or any other minister or senior official has at any stage declined a request from any of our security, intelligence or law enforcement agencies to investigate Banks,” said Ben Bradshaw today.
“Theresa May stopped an investigation into Arron Banks in 2016. She knew about possible criminal activity before she triggered Article 50. Her senior advisors are the ones that ORCHESTRATED the Vote Leave crimes, which is why they outed me. She MUST respond,” tweeted Leave campaign whistle-blower Shahmir Sanni.
Sanni was outed as gay by Theresa May’s adviser Stephen Parkinson after he revealed how Vote Leave funnelled money through BeLeave, a group linked to Cambridge Analytica, to evade electoral law. Theresa May’s close adviser Parkinson had been at Vote Leave.
Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower Christopher Wylie added: “I reported LeaveEU donors’ Russian finance deals to UK/USintelligence months ago. People should understand that Russian operations in Brexit are intertwined with the Trump campaign. The Prime Minister is complicit incovering it up. She cares more about Brexit than the rule of law.”
Banks denies any wrongdoing and this week insisted that “a full and frank investigation will finally put an end to the ludicrous allegations levelled against me and my colleagues.
“There is no evidence of any wrongdoing from the companies I own. I am a UK taxpayer and I have never received any foreign donations.”
Liz Bilney, one of his associates also under investigation, insisted: “I run the group of companies where the money was from and we don’t have any transactions that are from Russia.”
A No 10 spokesman refused to confirm or deny that Theresa May had blocked a probe of Banks in the run up to the referendum. A statement said: “We would never confirm or deny the detail of any conversation with security services on any topic.”