The U.K. Electoral Commission said Wednesday it had opened an investigation into whether millionaire U.K. Independence Party donor Aaron Banks breached campaign finance rules during the 2016 Brexit referendum.
In a statement issued by the commission, investigators said they would try to determine whether Better for the Country Limited, a company that lists Banks as a director was “the true source of donations” made to Leave campaigners in its name, “or if it was acting as an agent.” It will also examine whether Banks, who was also Leave.EU chairman, was the “true source of loans reported by a referendum campaigner in his name.”
In response to the investigation, Banks tweeted: “Gosh I’m terrified.”
Gosh I'm terrified https://t.co/t46IBFhfpV
— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) November 1, 2017
The investigation takes place following concerns from some MPs about funding for the referendum campaigns.
Last month, Labor MP Ben Bradshaw asked Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom if she could “reassure” the country that “all the resources spent during the referendum were from permissible sources,” and that, “given the widespread public concern about foreign, particularly Russian, interference in western democracies.”
The commission’s statement on Wednesday also made clear that it would look into whether or not there were violations to the rules set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) and the European Union Referendum Act 2015 (EURA).
British media reports said Banks, a Bristol-based businessman, contributed around £9m to the Leave cause.
Banks’ was registered as a permitted participant to the referendum but his BFTCL wasn’t, according to the statement, which added that the reported donations from BFTCL during the referendum campaign period amounted to a total of £2,359,842.76.
The Electoral Commission started investigating campaign spending of the Leave.EU movement back in April 2017.