The National Crime Agency has launched an investigation into Leave.EU, Better for the Country, and two leading members of the Leave.EU campaign for their actions during the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Arron Banks and Liz Bilney were referred to the NCA by the Electoral Commission after the watchdog said it suspected money given to the campaign came from “impermissible sources”.
In a statement, the NCA said:
“Our investigation relates to suspected electoral law offences covered by that referral, as well as any associated offences.
“While electoral law offences would not routinely fall within the NCA’s remit, the nature of the necessary inquiries and the potential for offences to have been committed other than under electoral law lead us to consider an NCA investigation appropriate in this instance.”
The Electoral Commission investigation that resulted in the referral to the NCA focused on the £2m reportedly to have been loaned to Better for the Country (BFTC), which ran the Leave.EU campaign, by Banks and his group of insurance companies, and a further £6m reported to have been donated to the organisation by Banks individually.
The Electoral Commission says it has “reasonable grounds to suspect” that Mr Banks was not the true source of the £8m loans made to Better for the Country.
Banks has consistently denied any wrongdoing during the campaign.
Outside the Leave.EU campaign, questions are still being asked about the secretive dark money source of the DUP’s record £435,000 donation to the Brexit campaign during the EU referendum, the majority of which the Northern Ireland party spent in England.