Brexit backer Arron Banks to face MPs over Russian Federation claims

  • Brexit backer Arron Banks to face MPs over Russian Federation claims

Brexit backer Arron Banks to face MPs over Russian Federation claims

A major Brexit campaign donor held two previously undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador before and after the 2016 referendum and was offered a deal on six gold mines in Russia, The Sunday Times reported.

He added that the accusations against him and Leave.EU's Communications Director Andy Wigmore were nothing but a political witch-hunt aimed at prominent Brexit supporters.

Having projected the campaign he helped fund as an agent provocateur, Banks abruptly ended the hearing after the expected three hours, complaining he was late for a lunch appointment.

Mr Banks admitted seeing the ambassador twice, and then the mines owner but declined to get involved after being advised it could be "problematic".

Arron Banks, a British businessman who bankrolled one of the main campaigns for Brexit, said that whistleblowers who had made allegations against his Leave.EU campaign were not credible witnesses.

He tweeted a picture of the group - along with fellow DUP MP Sammy Wilson - on the House of Commons terrace. Mr Banks has said he will appeal against the ruling. "I'm afraid it's time to go".

"We met with him - I'm a businessman, why shouldn't I?"

When Mr Collins again pressed for five more minutes, Mr Banks responded sternly: "No, no, no - the word is "no".

Mr Banks told MPs that no money from his overseas business interests formed part of his political donations and he was "crystal clear" about the rules. I pay a shed-load of tax, probably more than the entire committee put together.

"We actually saw the suits from the American embassy who introduced us to the State Department to explain what had happened and then we briefed the Americans on our meetings with the Russians", he said.

He said nothing came of the discussion over the gold mine deal, saying: "We didn't profit from any business deals because I never pursued anything". I do everything legally. "But clearly that's nonsense", he said.

Banks also confirmed to the committee investigating fake news the Brexit-backing group held talks with controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica and meant to use its services if it had been selected as the official Leave campaign - which it was not.

"Where's the evidence we took Russian money?"

They met the ambassador again after they and their ally Nigel Farage met President-Elect Donald Trump in NY, in late 2016.

Mr Wigmore said it was Mr Yakovenko's job to stay in touch with British politicians and claimed that only two days before their last meeting with him, the Russian ambassador had met Chancellor Philip Hammond.

He said: "I was trying to find investors to look at perhaps buying a banana farm which had got into trouble because of its owner. and as a outcome Belize couldn't sell its bananas in places like the United States or the United Kingdom".

Mr Wigmore asked: "In light of the fact that, according to Guido, you had some hospitality from Putin's number one man in the United Kingdom, do you not think you are a bit conflicted questioning us about this today?"