Arron Banks spent close to half a million pounds funding Nigel Farage in the year following the European referendum, a Channel 4 News investigation has claimed.
The millionaire insurance tycoon paid for the former UKIP leader’s lavish lifestyle, which included the lease a £4.4m three-bedroom home in London’s upmarket Chelsea, the broadcaster said.
Farage was also provided with a Land Rover Discovery, valued at £32,300, for his use, complete with a close protection driver at a cost of £20,000, it is alleged.
The investigation, which involved analysing invoices, emails and other documents, reveals that Rock Services Ltd, a company owned by Banks, leased the house at an estimated rent of £13,000 a month in summer 2016.
Banks also kitted the home out with new furniture and fittings, including crockery, chairs and bathroom accessories – even a shower curtain.
Banks also sought to raise a further £130,000 from unnamed supporters to cover Farage’s security detail, said Channel 4 News.
The investigation lays bare Farage’s financial reliance on Banks after he announced he was standing down as UKIP leader following the referendum.
They further reveal that Banks funded a private office space for Farage in Westminster, and paid the salary of a personal assistant.
During this time, he continued to serve as a member of the European Parliament on a salary of €100,000 a year plus expenses.
Farage, who is now the leader of the newly-formed Brexit Party, is standing once again in the European elections.
Channel 4 News also revealed that Banks, through his companies, organised and funded multiple visits to the United States in the year following the Brexit vote.
In July 2016, Banks flew Farage business class to Cleveland, Ohio, to attend the Republican National Convention.
Through Southern Rock, he also paid an American lobbying firm £64,064 for a “Nigel Farage Brexit Policy Luncheon”. It was organised by an American strategist, Gerry Gunster, through his company Goddard Gunster, who was paid by Banks, the broadcaster said.
This included paying Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson £11,305.41 to interview Farage at the event.
At the RNC, Farage met Republican Senator Bob Corker and John Bolton, currently serving as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor. The meetings were coordinated by the American strategy firm.
Farage was the first British politician to meet the president elect where he was photographed at Trump Tower.
At Trump’s inauguration, emails suggest Banks paid more than £15,000 to fly Farage to and from Washington, approximately £1,000 on a room at the plush Mayflower Hotel, Channel 4 News says.
Farage does not appear to have declared any of the visits funded by third parties to the European Parliament.
It is not clear whether he was obliged to declare these costs under EU rules governing members of the European Parliament. Had he been a Westminster MP, he would have had to declare the costs. Farage denies any wrongdoing.
Banks is currently under investigation by the National Crime Agency over the source of money used to fund his Leave.EU referendum campaign.
His companies are also subject to an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Leave.EU has been found to have breached electoral rules and was fined by the Electoral Commission.
Farage has repeatedly denied Banks has made any donations to the Brexit Party, or has any involvement with it.
He has previously refused to name a donor to the party claiming he would be “hounded” if his identity was revealed.
Another donor, Jeremy Hosking, has revealed he donated £200,000 to the group.
Farage has consistently defended Banks, claiming that the allegations surrounding his business deals, his campaign and his relationship with Russia are “unfounded”.
Farage refused to be interviewed by Channel 4 News over the revelations at an event in Merthyr Tydfil on Wednesday.
Gunster declined to provide a statement but claimed the broadcaster’s information was “not credible”.
Banks told Channel 4 News in a statement: “Channel 4 attempts to smear myself and Nigel, come at a time when the Brexit Party is riding high in the polls, so it should come as no surprise to anyone.”