First it was the FT on his case; now it is the legendary Slicker column in Private Eye magazine. Arron Banks, allegedly “The Man Who Bankrolled Brexit”, is coming under the kind of scrutiny that he would rather avoid. This time, it is his business empire which is under the spotlight. And what is being revealed only serves to generate more questions about where all those millions in loans and donations came from.
The FT has put it plainly: “The Gibraltar-based insurance company owned by Arron Banks made a loss of £32m in 2016, raising questions about the financial health of his insurance business … Southern Rock Insurance Company - the main underwriter for Eldon Insurance, another of Mr Banks’ companies - has made multimillion-pound losses on its core business of underwriting in five of seven years since 2010”. There was more.
“In 2015, the company made a profit of £42m profit after selling certain rights to future income to ICS Risk Solutions, a related company in the Isle of Man, for £77m … This allowed Southern Rock to book upfront profits from the future income streams, but in turn removed the income stream from the Gibraltar company … ICS Risk Solutions is majority-owned by Mr Banks”. So where did the Brexit bonanza originate?
The Eye’s account, though, puts the knife in. “Banks helped bring about Brexit by making the largest donation in British political history. Five registered groups reported donations from his company Better For The Country totalling £2,359,842.76”. So far, so procedural. But it is what the Electoral Commission has told that is truly eyebrow raising.
“The Electoral Commission is investigating ‘whether or not Better For The Country Limited was the true source of donations, or if it was acting as an agent’. It also wants to know ‘whether or not Banks was the true source of loans reported by a referendum campaigner in his name’”. And then comes the real shocker.
“Interestingly, the Commission makes a point of saying that ‘donors from outside the UK and Gibraltar were impermissible donors for the purposes of the UK referendum’”. The Eye also suggests that Banks is doing all he can to delay investigators until Brexit is done and the importance of any misbehaviour will be thereby diminished.
So let’s pull the strings together. The FT report suggests that Banks’ companies are not making money, and that the only way a profit has been reported is by accounting purposes - moving money around his own empire. The main underwriter for his own insurance business just keeps on losing money. Then the Electoral Commission goes further.
That body’s suggestion - no more than that at this stage - is that Banks may have been a mere courier for someone else’s money. Moreover, that someone else is suspected of being an impermissible source. One from outside the UK. On top of that, the EC is also hinting at Banks’ loans not really coming from him.
It was only two weeks ago that Zelo Street first broached the subject of money laundering in relation to Banks. It’s looking like a distinct possibility right now.