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Transparency International UK welcomes Electoral Commission investigation into Better for the Country Ltd

1st November 2017, London – Transparency International UK (TI-UK) welcomes the Electoral Commission’s announcement that it has opened an investigation to establish whether or not Better for the Country Limited (BFTCL) and/or Mr Arron Banks breached campaign finance rules in relation to donations at the 2016 EU referendum.

Following the referendum, TI-UK published a report highlighting that Better for the Country Limited was able to contribute to five separate leave campaigns, without revealing the source of its funds.

Under UK law companies have to be ‘carrying on business’ in the UK to make large donations to referendum campaigners and political parties, and it is illegal for them to be used as an intermediary to hide the origin of a political contribution. TI-UK has argued that the rules on company donations are not currently strong enough to prevent them being used as conduits for money from overseas sources.

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy Transparency International UK, said:

“A year we ago we raised serious concerns about the provenance of millions of pounds in donations that were given to various campaigners before the EU referendum. In this particular case, a newly-formed company without any previous commercial activity was able to make millions in contributions, with the likely source of funds being obscured behind a corporate network largely of offshore companies. Unchecked, this makes a farce of electoral law, which is intended to provide transparency about the provenance of money in politics and controls to protect against foreign interference in our democratic process.”

“We warmly welcome today’s action. It is imperative that there is a full and thorough investigation into the source of these funds and action taken if there is found to be a breach of the rules. A failure to do so would damage the credibility of electoral law and confidence in those entrusted to enforce it.”

“Beyond this investigation there is an urgent need to reform how politics is funded. Under the current rules it is too easy for foreign donors to inject cash into the system and for big donors to exert undue influence over our political process. At a time when there is an ongoing investigation into foreign interference in the US Presidential elections, it’s more vital than ever that the UK addresses its own vulnerabilities to capture and manipulation by powerful interests at home and abroad.”

***ENDS***

Contact
Dominic Kavakeb
020 3096 7695
079 6456 0340
Dominic.kavakeb@transparency.org.uk

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Read 76 times Last modified on Wednesday, 1 November 2017 13:25

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