The Electoral Commission investigation focused on loans totalling £8m provided to Better for the Country Ltd and Leave.EU.

24 September 2019 

On 17 October 2018, the National Crime Agency accepted a referral from the Electoral Commission of potential offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) and potential failings under company law.

The referral from the Electoral Commission covered the following named persons and entities:

  • Better for the Country Ltd
  • Leave.EUNCA sign
  • Arron Banks
  • Elizabeth Bilney

The Electoral Commission investigation focused on loans totalling £8m provided to Better for the Country Ltd and Leave.EU.

In its published referral [1 November 2018] the Electoral Commission said it had reasonable grounds to suspect that:

  • Mr Banks was not the true source of the £8m loans made to Better for the Country Ltd and Leave.EU. 
  • Loans to Better for the Country Ltd on behalf of Leave.EU involved a non-qualifying or impermissible company – Rock Holdings Ltd, which is incorporated in the Isle of Man.[1]
  • Mr Banks, Ms Bilney and others involved in Better for the Country Ltd, Leave.EU and associated companies concealed the true details of these financial transactions.
  • A number of criminal offences may have been committed.

Central to the referral from the Electoral Commission was the Commission’s suspicion that Rock Holdings Ltd was party to the transactions that culminated in payments to Better for the Country Ltd.

In carrying out its complex investigation the NCA analysed information, including banking information, which had not formed part of the Electoral Commission’s investigation. It also interviewed Mr Banks and Ms Bilney.

In reaching its decision, the NCA obtained advice from the Crown Prosecution Service and expert independent counsel due to the technical nature of PPERA offences and the company structures involved.

The NCA investigation has concluded that:

  • Mr Banks took a loan from Rock Holdings Ltd, a company of which he is the ultimate beneficial owner. He was legally entitled to do so.
  • Mr Banks was legally entitled, in his capacity as an individual, to release these funds to Better for the Country Ltd, by instructing another of his companies, Rock Services Ltd, to make the transactions on his behalf.
  • Rock Holdings Ltd was not involved in these transactions in a manner which contravened PPERA.

The NCA has found no evidence that any criminal offences have been committed under PPERA or company law by any of the individuals or organisations referred to it by the Electoral Commission. It will therefore take no further action against Mr Banks, Ms Bilney, Better for the Country Ltd or Leave.EU in respect of this specific matter.

This investigation has been subject to press and social media commentary.  The NCA has not received any evidence to suggest that Mr Banks and his companies received funding from any third party to fund the loans, or that he acted as an agent on behalf of a third party.

There have also been media reports alleging that Mr Banks has been involved in other criminality related to business dealings overseas. The NCA neither confirms nor denies that it is investigating these reports.

[1] The loan was in fact to Leave.EU but the monies were paid to Better for the Country Ltd as it administered the campaign.