Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Pork Pie protester confronts pro-Brexit millionaire Arron Banks

Arron Banks Tells MPs He Is 'Not An Evil Genius' Who Controls The West Brexit campaigner Arron Banks downplays Russia meetings
Jeannette Daniel | 12 June, 2018, 19:25

Millionaire Brexit campaigner Arron Banks in London.

Reports in the Sunday Times claimed Banks held a series of undisclosed meetings with Russian embassy officials around the time of the 2016 referendum campaign.

MPs repeatedly questioned Banks, an insurance entrepreneur, about the sources of his money, prompting Banks to deny any of his wealth that he used to pump at least £9m of loans and donations to the Brexit campaign was from Russian Federation.

But he abruptly left the hearing after more than two and half hours, saying it had over-run and he had another appointment.

The allegations prompted Labour MP Stephen Kinnock to announce that he will ask the police to launch a criminal investigation into links between Mr Banks and Russian Federation. I get the point that if the Russian ambassador asks you round for a drink you go, but this relationship went on for quite some time.

The businessman sat alongside Leave.EU communications chief Andy Wigmore as they joined Nigel Farage for an exclusive LBC interview. "We'll be in the House of Commons' bar".

The head of the parliamentary inquiry into "fake news", Conservative MP Damian Collins, said the report raised serious questions about Russian interference in United Kingdom politics. He added: "I have no business in Russian Federation, I have done no business deals in Russian Federation". You may have better intel than me. Mr Banks has said he will appeal against the ruling.

Arron Banks, who helped fund the Leave.EU Brexit campaign, will face MPs' questions on Tuesday about claims linking him to Russian officials.

The paper said it had seen emails showing he also discussed a potential business deal involving six Russian gold mines with ambassador Alexander Yakovenko after being introduced to him by a suspected Russian spy.

More news: New Spider-Man Gameplay Trailer at E3 2018

"Was that money made used in political campaigning? The ambassador was probably in a worse state than we were", he said.

"I'm not going to be lectured about my business interests".

Mr Banks joked that he was portrayed as an "evil genius with a white cat that controls the whole of western democracy".

The watchdog said the group - which was separate from the official pro-Brexit group Vote Leave - failed to report "at least" £77,380 it spent.

Setting out the campaign's approach, Mr Banks said: "We were not above using alternative methods to punch home our message or lead people up the garden path if we had to".

"Where's the evidence we took Russian money?"

Mr Banks said he first met the Russian ambassador over a "boozy lunch".

He said: "I was trying to find investors to look at perhaps buying a banana farm which had got into trouble because of its owner. and as a outcome Belize couldn't sell its bananas in places like the United States or the United Kingdom".

Asked if there was any Russian money given to Leave.EU, Mr Wigmore insisted: "No, not one penny or one rouble".

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