Mueller Probe Examines Brexit Backer’s Ties With Russia
Special prosecutor Robert S Mueller III and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have obtained records that show Russia offered business deals to a major backer of Britain’s Brexit campaign.
A report from Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office alleged that an insurance company owned by Arron Banks broke British law when it shared private email addresses to a pro-Brexit group before the 2016 referendum vote, according to the New York Times.
Banks was the single largest donor to the Brexit campaign and the Russian Embassy in London was reportedly helping Banks to engage in “lucrative investment opportunities” before the referendum vote. Banks’ involvement in Brexit and contacts with Russian diplomats have reportedly “raised questions about whether the Kremlin sought to reward important backers” of Brexit.
The Mueller probe is investigating whether Russia unduly influenced the U.S. 2016 presidential elections and Banks’s emails indicate a connection between Russia and Trump via Banks.
On Nov. 12, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump met with Mr. Banks in Trump Tower. When Mr. Banks returned to London, he had a meeting with the Russian ambassador in which they discussed Banks’s visit with Trump.
“From what we’ve seen, the parallels between the Russian intervention in Brexit and the Russian intervention in the Trump campaign appear to be extraordinary,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff from California, who is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Banks spent more than eight million British pounds to support the UK’s exit from the European Union, an outcome also supported by Russia.
Banks has been well-known for his strong ties to the Russian Embassy in London and has bragged about his “boozy six-hour lunch” with the Russian ambassador six months before the Brexit vote.
Leaked emails of Banks’s correspondence with Russian diplomats suggest that the embassy helped him with three potentially lucrative investment opportunities in Russian-owned diamond or gold mines. One of Banks’s business partners took the Russian diplomats up on at least one of the opportunities.
Banks has denied any wrongdoing, citing his pro-Brexit stance existed long before he met with the Russian ambassador.