Bad boy of Brexit, Arron Banks on his connections with Kremlin

  • Bad boy of Brexit, Arron Banks on his connections with Kremlin

Bad boy of Brexit, Arron Banks on his connections with Kremlin

The millionaire businessman, who co-founded Leave.EU, was yesterday the subject of a four-page spread in The Sunday Times, which accused him of holding undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador to the UK.

As part of the meetings the Russian ambassador was said to have proposed a business deal that would have involved them in the consolidation into one company of six Russian goldmines.

The Sunday Times said it had seen emails from Mr Banks and the organisation's communications chief Andy Wigmore.

The media committee has been examining how the 2016 referendum in which Britons voted to leave the European Union might have been affected by data-sharing and misuse.

Banks was introduced to the ambassador Alexander Yakovenko by a suspected Russian intelligence officer, according to The Sunday Times.

They were said to have been introduced to Yakovenko by Alexander Udod - one of 23 suspected Russian intelligence officers subsequently ejected from the United Kingdom after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury.

She is now writing a book on Russia's attempts to influence British politics, said Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore were "surprisingly willing tools" of the Kremlin, and that she came forward after her email accounts were "hacked". Perhaps, the Englishmen did not mind.

"Banks and Wigmore genuinely sympathised - and continue to sympathise - with some of Putin's political views".

"It's a convenient witch-hunt, both over Brexit and Trump", he added, referring to allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

He told the paper nothing came of their discussions over the gold mine deal.

"We didn't profit from any business deals because I never pursued anything", said Mr Banks, who has interests in South African diamond mining.

Mr Banks was also revealed to have visited Moscow in February 2016.

He told the paper he had also disclosed details of his contacts with the Russians to U.S. officials.

The Russian Embassy insists that it "has not in any way intervened in the domestic United Kingdom political process, including the Brexit referendum" and that meeting stakeholders from across a country's political spectrum is a "natural element of the work of any embassy".

He told the paper he had also disclosed details of his contacts with the Russians to USA officials.

The Leave.EU founder said he has Russian visas in his passport showing he went to the country in 2014 and 2015 to visit his Russian in-laws, but not February 2016, four months before the Brexit vote.

Tory MP Damian Collins, the committee's chair, told Sky News: "What would be most helpful now is disclosure of these emails that have been discussed, we're told there are thousands of them".

Trump has branded the investigation a "witch hunt".

"Not at all, no".

Reports on Sunday said the pair met three times, including lunching days after Mr Banks, Mr Wigmore and Mr Farage visited U.S. president elect Donald Trump in NY in November 2016.

"Did that happen? Did he make money out of it and did he use that money to fund his campaigns?"

Senior cabinet minister David Lidington told the BBC today that the allegations were "serious" and should be looked into by the authorities.