Leave.EU fined and referred to the police for breaking electoral law and overspending by ‘at least 10%’

11 May 2018 – Excerpt from Electoral Commission’s report Link

Leave.EU has been fined £70,000 by the Electoral Commission for offences committed under electoral law, following its investigation into the campaigner’s funding and spend during the EU referendum. The investigation concluded that Leave.EU incorrectly reported what it spent at the EU referendum. It exceeded its statutory spending limit and delivered incomplete and inaccurate spending and transaction returns.

Leave.EU failed to include at least £77,380 in its spending return, thereby exceeding the spending limit for non-party registered campaigners by at least 10%. The Commission also considers that the unlawful over-spend may well have been considerably higher than that. Services the group received from the US campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster were not included in the spending return, despite a proportion of them having been used during Leave.EU’s referendum campaign.

The Commission found Leave.EU inaccurately reported three loans it had received.  This included a lack of transparency and incorrect reporting around who provided the loans, the dates the loans were entered into, the repayment date and the interest rate. Finally, Leave.EU failed to provide the required invoice or receipt for 97 payments of over £200, totalling £80,224.

Through its investigation, the Commission also has reasonable grounds to suspect that the responsible person for Leave.EU committed criminal offences and she has therefore been referred to the Metropolitan Police.

Arron Banks and Leave.EU referred to the National Crime Agency

1 November 2018 – Excerpt from Electoral Commission’s report Link

The Electoral Commission has completed its current investigation into certain payments made to Better for the Country Limited (BFTC) and Leave.EU Group Limited (Leave.EU). These payments were for the purposes of meeting expenses incurred by BFTC (including on behalf of Leave.EU) in the 2016 EU Referendum. The Commission has reasonable grounds to suspect a number of criminal offences and have referred the matter to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

A total of £8m in funding was provided to BFTC and Leave.EU to be available for paying expenses incurred by one or other of them in the EU Referendum. This included £6m provided to Leave.EU (paid on its behalf to BFTC to use for Leave.EU’s referendum spending), and £2m provided to BFTC.

BFTC used this money to spend at least £2.9m in the regulated campaign period for the 2016 EU Referendum, either by making donations to other campaigners, or by other spending.

Leave.EU told us that Arron Banks was the only other party to the £6m loans, and that the moneys were loans from him. BFTC told us it was funded by Mr Banks and his group of insurance companies and that Mr Banks was the source for the other £2m.

Following an investigation we launched on 1 November 2017, we have reasonable grounds to suspect that:

  • Mr Banks was not the true source of the £8m reported as loans
  • The parties to the financial transactions that led to the £8m being paid into BFTC’s bank account included a non-qualifying or impermissible company, Rock Holding Limited, which was incorporated in the Isle of Man
  • Leave.EU, Elizabeth Bilney (the responsible person for Leave.EU), BFTC, Mr Banks, and possibly others, concealed the true details of these financial transactions, including from us, and also did so by knowingly making statutory returns/reports which were incomplete and inaccurate, or false
  • Various criminal offences may have been committed

Accordingly, we have referred this matter to the NCA, for it to take forward. We will liaise with the NCA to provide whatever assistance it may require.

This report outlines the basis for the Commission’s referral to the NCA. As this is now a criminal investigation, only limited information can at this stage be made public about the evidence we hold, our analysis and the potential offences that may have been committed.

Leave.EU and Arron Banks insurance firm face £135,000 in fines for misuse of personal data

The fines follow the Information Commissioner’s investigation into the misuse of personal data by political campaigns. Key points from their report to Parliament dated 6 Nov 2018:

  • More than a million emails sent to Leave.EU subscribers contained marketing for the Eldon Insurance firm’s GoSkippy services
  • The report highlights what it calls the close relationship between Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance, both facing fines of £60,000 for emails which breached data laws.
  • Over a million emails between February and July 2017 had been sent to Leave.EU subscribers, including marketing information about GoSkippy, without their consent.
  • A £15,000 fine was also imposed for a separate “serious” breach after a Leave.EU newsletter was sent to more than 319,000 email addresses on Eldon’s customer database.
  • A final decision is still to be reached on an alleged breach relating to the company’s overall handling of personal data.

The commission also said it was investigating how Vote Leave delivered electronic marketing communications and whether its actions were a breach of privacy rules. “We do have cause for concern and we will be reporting on this imminently.”

See also https://brexposed.uk/arron-banks/

Vote Leave’s illegal overspending alone was enough to win the Brexit vote. Read more here…


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