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  1. ITV Report

Arron Banks tells ITV News probed Brexit campaign cash is legitimate - while quoting Taylor Swift lyrics

Arron Banks insisted he has done nothing wrong amid a criminal probe. Credit: ITV News

Leave campaigner Arron Banks has told ITV News he and his firm are the source of £8 million of campaign funding for the Brexit referendum that is being criminally investigated.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) probe was launched into “suspected criminal offences” after the elections watchdog said it had reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Banks was not the true source of the cash.

It also said Mr Banks's firm Rock Holdings, which is based on the Isle of Man, was impermissible under finance rules amid claims of outside funding.

Mr Banks, who co-founded the Leave.EU campaign, said bank statements showed "no money has gone into Rock Holdings from Russians or anyone else" as he invited the NCA to look at his books "any time they want".

He told ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan the money was generated by "insurance" and insisted it was a UK-registered company.

"We employ nearly 1,000 people," he said. "We have almost (500,000) customers and we generate revenues at a premium of over (£250 million) a year ... in the UK."

Speaking outside the BBC Broadcasting House amid a crowd of pro-EU protesters and reporters, Mr Banks insisted the allegations against him were stoked up by pro-Remainers.

He even quoted Taylor Swift lyrics to emphasise what he saw as a tribal division over Brexit.

"The haters are going to hate, the lovers are going to love, in the words of Taylor Swift," he said.

The Electoral Commission’s review of referendum finances focused on £2 million reported to have been loaned to Better for the Country by Mr Banks and his insurance companies and a £6 million donation which he made alone.

Leave campaigner Arron Banks is facing an investigation. Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

The commission also referred Leave.EU, its chief executive, Elizabeth Bilney, and the organisation that ran it, Better for the Country, to the NCA last week after carrying out a review.

Bob Posner, the commission’s director of political finance, said: “We have reasonable grounds to suspect money given to Better for the Country came from impermissible sources and that Mr Banks and Ms Bilney, the responsible person for Leave.EU, knowingly concealed the true circumstances under which this money was provided.

“This is significant because at least £2.9 million of this money was used to fund referendum spending and donations during the regulated period of the EU referendum.”

Ms Bilney also denies any wrongdoing.