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Why did Russians dangle deals in front of Arron Banks?

by Sebastian O'Meara | 03.07.2018

It’s becoming hard to keep up with Arron Banks’ eating habits – and, indeed, the deals that the Russians dangled in front of him.

For months, the Brexit über-donor had regaled his fans with talk of a six-hour boozy lunch with Russia’s UK ambassador, washed down with lashings of vodka supposedly made for Stalin himself. Then last month the man who bankrolled the Brexit campaign fronted by Nigel Farage admitted another lunch as well a cup of tea with the ambassador. Now the Leave.EU boss has admitted to the New York Times a fourth meeting with the hospitable ambassador.

It’s not just the extra lunch Banks failed to mention during his testimony to Parliament last month. He also didn’t speak about some of the business opportunities the Russians pushed his way.

We’d already heard that the ambassador set up a meeting with a Russian businessman who offered Banks the chance to take part in the consolidation of six Russian gold mines, an opportunity he denies taking up. The New York Times has now dragged out of him admissions about two other opportunities, neither of which Banks mentioned in his parliamentary testimony.

Diamonds and gold

Banks told the paper he did not invest in either opportunity. But Banks’ business partner and fellow Brexit-backer Jim Mellon – the man who first introduced him and Farage – did take part in the diamond deal.

Mellon’s fund management company, Charlemagne Capital, was among a restricted group of investors who were sold shares in a state-controlled Russian diamond miner at a discount three weeks after the referendum, according to the New York Times. A representative for Mellon told the paper he had “stepped out of day-to-day management of Charlemagne, and that any investment decisions were made by a formal committee”.

Banks appears to have been offered the diamond opportunity by the same businessman who offered him the chance to be involved in the six gold mines, according to the New York Times. The Leave.Eu boss initially told the paper he knew nothing about the diamond deal before later saying he remembered hearing about it.

He also initially told the paper he had no memory of discussing a gold mine in Guinea owned by a Russian businessperson, but later called back to acknowledge a meeting that the paper says “appears to have included a discussion of the Guinean mine”.

Questions on both sides of Atlantic

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told the New York Times: “The Russians were apparently dangling gold mines and diamond mines and financial incentives behind one of the largest backers of Brexit.” He also sees “extraordinary” parallels between “the Russian intervention in Brexit and the Russian intervention in the Trump campaign”. This is why US politicians and media are interested in the British businessman.

Banks told the paper that the account he gave our Parliament about his dealings with the Russians was “relatively accurate”. He added: “The idea that things were dangled as some sort of carrots for me to be involved with the Russians is very far-fetched… I wonder what the Russians wanted from me?”

What indeed? The National Crime Agency, the UK’s elite crime-fighting squad, is examining his Russian links after being handed a cache of his emails, according to The Sunday Times. Hopefully it will be able to find out.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

Tags: , , Categories: Brexit

2 Responses to “Why did Russians dangle deals in front of Arron Banks?”

  • Given that many brexiteers are convinced of the fact that Brexit is a noble cause supported by true patriots etc. this is bound to cause a lot of pain further down the road when truth comes out. As every thinking person knew Brexit was all about creating a financial free for all (with sufficient funds behind him/her) zone outside the remit of the EU. Read

  • Without doubt Banks should be subjected to a robust and thorough investigation by the Metropolitan Police Fraud. There is ample evidence to strongly suspect this man has committed serious criminal offences.