The coupling of the Brexit campaigns, and particularly those conducted with the involvement of Arron Banks, the éminence grise behind former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, with all that “Dark Money” sloshing around courtesy of a range of vested interests, has been covered previously on this blog. Also covered has been the dead giveaway of their interests by those seeking to rubbish the story.
Now, as the Brexit negotiations stall, some observers are once again looking askance at Banks, unofficially “the man who bankrolled Brexit”, and asking where he got the reported £9 million in donations and loans which paid for it all. Banks, like his pal Farage, was apparently not particularly well off at the turn of the millennium. He now claims to be worth anything up to £250 million. It is a most remarkable transformation.
What is also remarkable is Banks’ creativity. As Open Democracy noted, “Banks has claimed he was promoted and rose to lead his own sales team at Norwich Union … However [there is] no record of Banks ever having worked for Norwich Union. He has also claimed to have worked for Warren Buffett … We asked Buffett about this. He replied. ‘I have no memory of ever hearing of the name Arron Fraser Andrew Banks. He certainly never worked for me.’ Further checks across the Berkshire Hathaway group, made by Buffett’s office, yielded no evidence he had ever worked for any of his subsidiaries”.
But they also note that, at the time he was not well-known, nor well-off, “Banks met the woman who was to become his second wife, a Portsmouth-based Russian called Ekaterina Paderina”. She has long been rumoured to have been, let us say, an asset of the Russian state. His pal Farage, by complete coincidence you understand, has also recently been fingered as the possible go-between linking the Trump gang to Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the latter also now believed to be a Russian asset.
So it should surprise no-one that “A Labour MP has said there are ‘real questions’ about how much Arron Banks - the entrepreneur who bankrolled Brexit - is worth as he called on the government to investigate the possible role played by ‘dark money’ in the EU referendum. Speaking in parliament, Ben Bradshaw said there was ‘widespread concern over foreign and particularly Russian interference in western democracies’”.
Bradshaw, as the Guardian has noted, has asked “questions today over the real wealth of Arron Banks, the main financial backer of leave”. This may include his having seen the Open Democracy observation “Banks’ present financial status is then somewhat unclear, and sometimes dependent on buying assets from one company, in order to shore up another company he himself holds a stake in”.
Asking Banks to justify the claim that he is worth £100 million, or even as much as £250 million, brings either a reply via his lawyer, silence … or both. He has made what Open Democracy calls “A Lazarus-like recovery” and concludes “The value of his businesses are materially lower than Banks’ own inflated boasts and, while still a wealthy man, was he wealthy enough to give so much to the Brexit campaign, without some other undisclosed source of income?” Which comes down to the age-old question - who’s paying?
After all, whoever bought Brexit, it gets foisted on all of us, whether we like it or not. So who is behind the financial rehabilitation of Banks and his pal Farage? More later.