Better For The Country Limited and director Arron Banks are under investigation by the Electoral Commission over a possible breach of campaign finance rules
The Electoral Commission has announced that it is investigating Eldon and Southern Rock owner Arron Banks over a possible breach of campaign finance rules in relation to 2016 EU referendum donations.
If a deliberate breach is found to have occurred, then this could result in a criminal conviction.
Banks is a director of Better For the Country Limited (BFTCL), a pro-leave group. BFTCL was not a registered permitted participant in the EU referendum.
Five registered campaigners reported donations from BFTCL. These totalled £2.36m.
Banks himself was registered as a permitted participant in the referendum and gave three separate donations totalling £6m.
There is currently a separate ongoing investigation into whether donations and services provided to pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.EU may have been impermissible.
Director of political finance and regulation & legal counsel Bob Posner said: “Interest in the funding of the EU referendum campaigns remains widespread. Questions over the legitimacy of funding provided to campaigners at the referendum risks causing harm to voters’ confidence. It is therefore in the public interest that the Electoral Commission seeks to ascertain whether or not impermissible donations were given to referendum campaigners and if any other related offences have taken place.”
Banks has been contacted for comment. After the investigation was announced, he tweeted: “Gosh I’m terrified”.
Gosh I’m terrified https://t.co/t46IBFhfpV— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) November 1, 2017
What will the Electoral Commission be investigating?
- Whether or not Better for the Country Limited was the true source of donations made to referendum campaigners in its name, or if it was acting as an agent.
- Whether the recipients of its donations were given the information required by the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) in respect of the donor.
- What steps the recipients took to verify the identity and permissibility of Better for the Country Limited as a donor.
- Whether or not Mr Banks was the true source of loans reported by a referendum campaigner in his name.
- Whether those individuals and entities involved in that arrangement acted in accordance with PPERA.
- Whether any individual facilitated a transaction with a non-qualifying person.
Banks made headlines during the May General Election when he stated his intent to contest ex-UKIP MP Douglas Carswell’s Clacton seat. When Carswell pulled out of the race, so too did Banks.