The National Crime Agency has dropped its criminal investigation into Arron Banks after finding “no evidence” that his contributions to pro-Brexit campaigns violated election law.
“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,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Victory is sweet,” Banks tweeted in response to the announcement.
Banks, a millionaire who made his fortune in the insurance industry, contributed £8 million to the Leave.EU campaign and its parent organisation, Better for the Country.
In November 2018, Banks was referred to the NCA by the Electoral Commission for “suspected criminal offences committed during the EU referendum”. At the time, the Electoral Commission said that it had reasonable grounds to suspect that Banks was not the “true source” of the funds.
On Tuesday, Banks said he intends to take legal action against the Electoral Commission following the NCA’s decision to drop the case.
Banks said that he believed the complaint to the NCA had been “manufactured” by the commission and the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee as part of a “political witch hunt”.
He said the Electoral Commission had behaved “scandalously”, making “false” and “outrageous” allegations of criminal conduct.
“For nearly a year, I have been subjected to an endless media campaign suggesting that I behaved improperly during the 2016 referendum campaign,” he said in a statement.
“This is all because the Electoral Commission, having found no impropriety, forwarded my file to the NCA. “They made false, outrageous allegations that I was not the true source of funds during that campaign and that ‘a number of criminal offences may have been committed’.
“No wrongdoing of any kind has been found and I intend to take action against those who have behaved so scandalously.”
Reacting to the NCA’s announcement on Tuesday, Nigel Farage tweeted in support of the decision, adding that “heads must roll” following what he described as an “appalling establishment campaign against Mr. Banks”.
An Electoral Commission spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday: “We are concerned about the apparent weakness in the law, highlighted by this investigation outcome, which allows overseas funds into UK politics. We have made recommendations that would tighten the rules on campaign funding and deter breaches. We urge the UK’s governments to act on those recommendations to support voter confidence.
“Significant sums were spent on campaigning at the 2016 EU referendum and it is vital that voters have transparency over the way these campaigns were funded. It is therefore right that suspected offences are investigated by the appropriate authorities, as the NCA has done in this case.”