No Russian money went through me, says Aaron Banks

NewsPoliticsTheresa May under pressure over blocking security services probe into Arron Banks Brexit campaign millions Ben Gelblum

A major Brexit donor has denied claims that funding came from Russian Federation - and admitted the United Kingdom may have been better staying in the EU.

It came as Mr Banks, the subject of a National Crime Agency probe into the source of £8million of campaign funding in the run up to the Brexit vote, insisted the cash had not come from Russian Federation.

A National Crime Agency (NCA) probe has been launched into "suspected criminal offences" after the Electoral Commission said it had reasonable grounds to suspect that Banks was not the true source of the cash.

He told the Andrew Marr Show that all the cash came from a UK-registered company, and repeated claims that he was being targeted by Remain-supporting politicians.

Foreign donations to political campaigns are banned under United Kingdom law.

"Mr Banks denied any wrongdoing and said he welcomed the police investigation". "I am a United Kingdom taxpayer and I have never received any foreign donations", he said on Thursday. He told the Times he had obtained a legal opinion to show that lending money via Rock Holdings was legitimate, and that he would refer to than opinion on air.

It also said that the loans involved a company - Rock Holdings - based on the Isle of Man, which was impermissible under finance rules.

Mr Banks, one of the founders of the Leave.EU campaign, said he was confident the investigation would "put an end to the ludicrous allegations" against him.

The BBC said in a statement posted to Twitter that there is "strong public interest" in the interview.

He said: "We insure half a million people".

He accused "vicious MPs" and journalists of trying to undermine the Brexit process.

Banks raised eyebrows further when he suggested that if given the time again, he would vote to remain in the EU. "It was generated out of insurance business written in the United Kingdom".

British businessman Arron Banks has insisted there was "no Russian money and no interference" in the £8 million (€9 million) loaned to his unofficial pro-Brexit campaign.

Conservative MP and chairman of the culture media and sport committee, Damian Collins, told The Observer the leaked e-mails appeared to "flatly contradict" what Mr Banks had told his committee in June.

The Electoral Commission referred the case, about potential spending offences during the 2016 referendum campaign on European Union membership, to the agency.

"You are talking about emails that were stolen from us".

Mr Banks replied: "Well he is".

The Electoral Commission is not responding to Mr Banks' comments.

On Tuesday, the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, will announce the outcome of an inquiry into claims Eldon shared customer data obtained for insurance purposes with Leave.EU, potentially breaking data protection laws.

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