Aaron Banks ‘writes off £7million loan’ as Leave.EU goes into liquidation | Aaron Banks

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Brexit campaign group Leave.EU has gone into liquidation and its controversial co-founder Arron Banks appears to be writing off a loan worth more than £7million.

documents Data provided to Companies House also reveals that the anti-EU lobbying group led by Nigel Farage during the 2016 EU referendum campaign failed to pay tens of thousands in fines charged to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for breaches owed in breach of the Data Protection Act.

But Banks’ decision to write off £7,051,987 in loans to Leave.EU will be the source of most controversy after years of speculation about the source of its funding of the EU referendum campaign.

In 2018, the Electoral Commission reprimanded the National Crime Agency, claiming that Banks was not the “true source” of the loan and that the money came “from improper sources.”

The NCA found no evidence of crime, finally that Banks took out a loan from an Isle of Man company that he owned, as he was legally entitled to do.

The banks had denied any wrongdoing and dismissed allegations related to his funding as “ridiculous”.

Critics said yesterday the apparent £7million write-down could be seen by banks as a fair price for the disruption caused by Brexit.

Chris Bryant, leader of the House of Commons Standards Committee, slammed Arron Banks for the “real damage” caused by Brexit. Photo: Vickie Flores/EPA

Chris Bryant, chairman of the House of Commons Standards Committee, said: “I wonder when we will see the real damage that has been done [by Banks] to this country. The £7million he has out of pocket is honestly the least.”

Another Labor MP, Ben Bradshaw, said: “£7million is a very small fine for the long-term damage Banks has done to Britain.”

Bradshaw, who previously urged the government to investigate more fully the possible role of “dark money” in the EU referendum, added: “The whole sad story shows the importance of robust independent regulation of political donations and campaign finance at a time when the Tory government is hellbent on emasculating the Electoral Commission.”

Last month the government published details an “electoral power grab” that many said would undermine the independence of the commission.

Banks was the biggest supporter of the Brexit campaign. In spring 2016 he gave Leave.EU a loan of £6million – a huge sum for a British political campaign – which was reportedly due to be repaid by the end of 2017.

Companies House documents confirm that Banks, a former Ukip donor, never called in debt that large but appears to have opted to write it off in April this year, at which time the sum was due to a change in borrowing and the Interest rates rise to over £7million Prices.

The documents also show that Leave.EU failed to pay £52,000 in fines owed to the ICO.

Following an investigation into the misuse of personal data by political campaigns, Leave.EU was fined £45,000 for sending more than a million emails to its subscribers containing marketing for a bank-owned insurance company.

The company was also fined £15,000 for unlawfully using Eldon Insurance customer data to send nearly 300,000 political marketing messages before the referendum.

At the time, Leave.EU spoke of a “politically motivated attack” because of its involvement in Brexit.

On Saturday, a spokesman for the ICO said: “We will continue to monitor the course of the insolvency and support the insolvency administrator with his inquiries if necessary.”

In 2018, when it was revealed that the NCA was investigating allegations that he withheld the source of the donation to fund Leave.EU, Banks said: “There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the companies I own. I am a UK taxpayer and have never received any foreign donations.”

The leading Brexit campaigner added that he was “confident that a full and open inquiry will finally put an end to the ridiculous allegations against me and my colleagues”.

Banks has been asked for an opinion on Leave.EU’s liquidation and whether he has written off the £7million.

According to a notice to Companies House, Leave.EU had £4,233 worth of available assets at the time of liquidation.

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