While the National Crime Agency and various Police forces ponder further investigation into the various Leave campaigns from the 2016 EU referendum, Bloomberg has done its own investigation into the finances of Arron Banks, the alleged “man who bankrolled Brexit”. Their analysis can be read as suggesting that his various businesses may not have had sufficient resources to pony up that £8 million he provided.
First, Bloomberg pitches the question. “For a man who told the Financial Times he was worth 100 million pounds ($130 million) in 2015 and made the Sunday Times Rich List two years later with 250 million pounds, his 8 million-pound outlay wasn’t necessarily that striking. But is Banks—who is at the center of a criminal probe into the financing of the campaign to leave the European Union - really that wealthy?”
From that comes the analysis. “Analysis by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates his net worth at 25 million pounds from what can be gleaned publicly. It comprises 34 million pounds worth of assets in insurance, financial services and diamond mining. The net figure deducts the amount of his funding to Leave.eu, the pro-Brexit group he co-founded”. Bit of a come down from £250 million, then. And there is more.
Two items in the portfolio considered by Bloomberg may not have the value - at least, not to Banks - that is assumed. First come those diamond mines in South Africa, on which a value of £5 million is placed. However, the article also quotes Peter Major, director of mining at Cadiz Corporate Solutions in Cape Town, who strikes a sceptical note.
“These particular four are very small properties and definitely not mainstream … South Africa has a thousand other small diamond mines similar to them, looking for dreamers and suckers“. Major has “been asked to look at those four mines at least twice in the past 12 years, but declined because diamond mining in South Africa is notoriously risky, hard to value and difficult to raise money for investments”. They could be worthless.
Second is Eldon Insurance, which Bloomberg values at £12 million. However, Banks’ share of the company is thought to be between 50% and 75%. So, taking a pessimistic view for Banksy, that’s just £6 million of assets. And if those diamond mines really are worthless, which is not out of the question, his asset base isn’t £34 million.
That asset base would, in those circumstances, be just £23 million. And we are supposed to believe that, potentially being in possession of that amount of ready assets, he managed to find a whole £8 million to throw at the Leave campaign.
And remember, as the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr has pointed out, Banks is so filthy rich that he can’t afford to live in his stately home, which is instead hired out to generate cash. Banks lives in the gatehouse. Curiouser and curiouser, as they say.
The National Crime Agency, as Bloomberg points out, “has the investigatory powers to pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding Banks’s finances”. They may get a surprise when they get round to doing that. Because Banksy doesn’t look so rich after all.
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