Channel 4 News investigation reveals how millionaire Arron Banks spent approximately £450,000 on Nigel Farage to fund lavish lifestyle the year following the EU referendum in summer 2016.
Millionaire insurance tycoon Arron Banks spent close to half a million pounds funding Nigel Farage, who is now the Brexit Party leader.
Mr Banks is currently under investigation by the National Crime Agency over the source of his funding for the Brexit campaign.
However, Nigel Farage claims Mr Banks has never funded The Brexit Party, which was founded in February this year.
An investigation by Channel 4 News reveals:
A company owned by Mr Banks, called Rock Services Ltd, leased a £4.4m three-bedroom Chelsea home with a garage for Mr Farage at an estimated rent of £13,000 a month in summer 2016.
Mr Banks also bought furniture and fittings for the house, including crockery, chairs and bathroom accessories and even even a shower curtain.
Mr Farage was also provided with a Land Rover Discovery, valued at £32,300, for his use.
Mr Banks paid £20,000 for a close protection driver and sought to raise a further £130,000 from unnamed supporters to cover Mr Farage’s security detail.
The revelations are contained in invoices, emails and other documents seen by Channel 4 News which lay bare Mr Farage’s financial reliance on Arron Banks to fund his lavish lifestyle after he announced he was standing down as UKIP leader following the referendum.
They further reveal that Mr Banks funded a private office space for Mr Farage at 40 Great Smith Street in Westminster, and paid the salary of a personal assistant.
Mr Farage continued to serve as a member of the European Parliament on a salary of €100,000 a year plus expenses.
The documents reveal that Mr Banks, through his companies, organised and funded multiple visits to the United States in the year following the Brexit vote.
In July 2016, Mr Banks flew Mr Farage business class to Cleveland, Ohio to attend the Republican National Convention.
Mr Banks, through Southern Rock, paid an American lobbying firm Goddard Gunster £64,064 for a “Nigel Farage Brexit Policy Luncheon”.
Mr Banks paid an American strategist, Gerry Gunster, through his company Goddard Gunster, to organise the event.
This included paying Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson £11,305.41 to interview Mr Farage at the event.
At the RNC, Mr 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.
The following month Mr Farage, Mr Banks and his associate Andy Wigmore flew to Jackson, Mississippi where they were hosted by the Governor Phil Bryant and first introduced to Donald Trump.
Mr Farage also addressed a Trump rally, the first British politician to do so.
In Autumn 2016, Rock Services arranged for Mr Farage and Mr Wigmore to travel to America on multiple occasions, including visits to St Louis, Missouri. The pair also flew to Las Vegas for the presidential debates, and stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Mr Banks, Mr Wigmore and Mr Farage also travelled to New York for election night in November 2016 and stayed at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Mr Farage was the first British politician to meet the president elect where he was photographed in front of a gold lift at Trump Tower.
At Donald Trump’s inauguration, emails suggest Mr Banks paid more than £15,000 to fly Nigel Farage to and from Washington, approximately £1000 on a room at the plush Mayflower Hotel.
Invoices show Goddard Gunster billed £108,684 for a lavish party in Farage’s honour at the Hay-Adams Hotel.
Channel 4 News can exclusively reveal that, the day before Mr Farage was photographed with President Trump in Trump Tower, American strategist Gerry Gunster, of Goddard Gunster, proposed capitalising on Farage’s celebrity to establish a new international political consultancy.
Goddard Gunster International would be an “international political powerhouse” which was “uniquely positioned with key executive staff that are closely aligned with the new US administration”.
The organisation would cover “strategy, lobbying, creative services and paid advocacy,” with “counsel provided by Mr Nigel Farage”.
The proposal suggested a 50/50 “division of profits” between Gerry Gunster and Arron Banks, with a “separate agreement with Nigel Farage”.
Mr Gunster and Mr Banks discussed a number of business opportunities and held meetings with prospective clients.
The emails suggest that in December 2016, flights to New York for Nigel Farage costing £10,987 were billed to political strategy firm Goddard Gunster, who arranged meetings between Mr Farage and executives from The Coca-Cola Company.
Emails also shows a Senior Vice President at the company offered to fund a further trip by Mr Farage to Atlanta, Georgia in March 2017 where he attended a “series of engagements”.
The Coca-Cola Company declined to comment.
Mr 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 Mr Farage been a Westminster MP, he would have had to declare the costs.
Mr Farage denies any wrongdoing.
Mr 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.
Mr Farage has repeatedly denied Mr 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 Mr Banks, claiming that the allegations surrounding his business deals, his campaign and his relationship with Russia are “unfounded”.
Channel 4 News made repeated requests to Mr Farage for an interview to answer these questions raised by our investigation.
At an event in Merthyr Tydfil on Wednesday, Mr Farage again refused to answer questions saying: “No comment.”
Mr Gunster declined to provide a statement but claimed our information was “not credible”.
In a statement Mr Banks told us: “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.”