Britain's Electoral Commission has announced that it is investigating whether or not the Leave campaigner Arron Banks was the true source of loans reported in his name during the Brexit referendum.
The investigation will particularly focus on whether or not the BFTCL was a real source of donations or it was acting as an agent, whether recipients of the donations were given proper information about the donor, which steps were taken by recipients to verify the identity and permissibility of the BFTCL, whether Banks was the true source of loans, whether individuals and entities involved in the BFTCL were acting in accordance with the law and whether any individual facilitated a transaction with a non-qualifying person.
"Questions over the legitimacy of funding provided to campaigners at the referendum risks causing harm to voters' confidence," Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel at the Commission Bob Posner has stated.
In his turn, Arron Banks, a British businessman and political donor, has responded to the probe, saying: "Gosh I'm terrified."
Banks made donations amounting to 2.3 million pounds (over $3 million) and also gave three loans to another campaigner Leave.EU totaling 6 million pounds during the referendum's campaign.
Commenting his contribution to the referendum, Banks said that "Brexit was a war. We won. There's no turning back now."
The development comes just days after the British press reported that UKIP whistleblowers informed the Electoral Commission that some individuals, remunerated by US-based right-wing news outlet Breitbart, had been working as unpaid UKIP volunteers, which could be interpreted as an indirect political donation. Nevertheless, Gawain Towler, the spokesman for the UKIP, has denounced the media claims as "ridiculous," in a comment to Sputnik.
In a separate inquiry, Labour Member of Parliament Ben Bradshaw asked the government earlier in October to examine the origin of some of the funds used in the Brexit campaign amid general concern about foreign influence on it.
The UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee made a request to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking information on the use of Facebook advertising and pages by Russia-linked accounts ahead of the Brexit referendum, prompting Moscow's response. According to Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko, the allegations of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum are unconvincing and are "insulting" UK citizens.
The newly launched probe comes in the wake of tough negotiations on the terms for Britain's exit from the European Union, with the deadline set for March 2019. While Britain's parliament should vote on Brexit by the end of 2017, UK Brexit Secretary David Davis has suggested that due to differences, the vote may take place after the deadline for the country to leave the EU.