LONDON (Reuters) – British businessman Arron Banks has denied an allegation made by a former business accomplice that he approached Russians about investing in his diamond mines, and that the cash raised went as an alternative to his marketing campaign to depart the European Union.
FILE PHOTO: Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore, who ran the Leave.Eu pro-Brexit referendum marketing campaign, arrive to present proof to the Digital Culture Media and Sport Parliamentary Committee in London, Britain, June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Banks, who forward of the Brexit referendum financed Leave.EU, a marketing campaign led by Nigel Farage, then the chief of the UK Independence Party, has confronted questions in parliament about his Russia hyperlinks however denied having business there.
He mentioned the supply of the brand new allegation, made on Channel four TV on Friday, was a “a bit of a fantasist” who was making an attempt to distract consideration from a lawsuit that Banks had introduced in opposition to him.
Channel four cited an affidavit to a South African courtroom which mentioned that Banks had travelled to Russia to debate alternatives in mining.
The courtroom papers alleged that it had “recently become apparent that the funds were in fact raised but were used by Arron Banks in other interests that he has including, but not limited to, his participation in the funding of Brexit.”
Banks mentioned he had checked out issuing a bond for his diamond mines in South Africa however determined to not proceed with it. He mentioned that because the occasions had occurred earlier than the 2015 nationwide election, they may not have been associated to the Brexit referendum which had not but been known as.
“Unless I’m a genius, real genius, how could it be to fund Brexit with Russian money, before I knew there’d even be a referendum campaign?” Banks advised Reuters by telephone.
He additionally denied taking business journeys to Russia, saying: “I went to Russia in 2014 and 2015 twice, and both were family holidays.”
Banks has threatened to sue the European Parliament’s chief Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt for defamation after Verhofstadt mentioned Banks had colluded with Russians over Brexit.
Britain has mentioned it has seen no proof of Russian interference within the 2016 referendum vote to depart the European Union.
But as a part of a broader inquiry into so-called pretend news, lawmakers on the media committee are investigating whether or not Moscow tried to affect public opinion earlier than the referendum.
Banks advised the committee he had had two lunches with the Russian ambassador, however had no business pursuits and had executed no offers in Russia.
Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Robin Pomeroy