Arron Banks Insists There’s "No Evidence" Leave.EU Took Russian Money

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He said: 'I've got no business interests in Russian Federation and I've done no business deals in Russian Federation'.

Banks' comments fly in the face of repeated claims by various individual MPs that Russian Federation interfered in the Brexit referendum with a social media bot campaign; accusations that have been shut down by social media companies...

Britain has said it has seen no evidence of Russian interference in the vote, but as part of a broader inquiry into "fake news", lawmakers on the media committee are investigating whether the country tried to influence public opinion before the referendum.

Banks told LBC that he first met the ambassador over a "boozy lunch" that included Stalin vodka, but insisted there was "no evidence" he had taken Russian money.

Leave.EU was backed by Nigel Farage, the former chairman of the UK Independence Party who pressured the British government to hold a referendum on EU membership.

"What I'm saying is we've now got a full-scale Russian witch hunt going on".

The last of these was in November 2016, three days after Mr Banks, Leave.EU's communications director Andy Wigmore and the former UKIP leader Nigel Farage met Mr Trump in NY following his election victory. But I think we've been as open as we can be with the issues you played us through.

Banks initially replied: "A good lunch, and that's what I got", prompting Watling to ask if there were in fact "Many good lunches?"

Image    Mr Wigmore and Mr Banks left the MPs' hearing for a lunch appointment
Image Mr Wigmore and Mr Banks left the MPs' hearing for a lunch appointment

In vehemently stating that all his business interests were legally structured, Mr Banks let the MPs he was speaking in front of know that he probably paid more tax than them.

"Clearly that's nonsense", he said.

But after more than three hours of questioning from members of the committee about his alleged involvement with Russia Mr Banks stood up and announced he would leave to attend a "luncheon meeting".

Setting out the campaign's approach, Mr Banks said: "We were not above using alternative methods to punch home our message or lead people up the garden path if we had to".

MPs repeatedly questioned Banks, an insurance entrepreneur, about the sources of his money, prompting Banks to deny any of his wealth that he used to pump at least £9m of loans and donations to the Brexit campaign was from Russian Federation.

He acknowledged giving the Russian ambassador the telephone number of Donald Trump's transition team before the president won the U.S. election.

Calls have been intensifying for Banks to explain his links to the Kremlin after fresh revelations about his contact with Russian embassy officials emerged at the weekend.

He said: "We had a couple of issues in relation to bananas and sugar and the initial conversation I had with this gentleman at the Ukip conference - 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".

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