The millionaire businessman Arron Banks, who spent £8m on the Brexit campaign, has put a controversial South African diamond mine on the market.
Mr Banks confirmed to Channel 4 News that the Newlands mine in Barkly West, Northern Cape province is up for sale for ZAR10m – just over £500,000.
In a statement Mr Banks told Channel 4 News:
“Newlands diamond mine was placed in care and maintenance 12 months ago and is up for sale for R10 million (approx. £540k).”
Mr Banks has consistently claimed that the mines were productive and profitable.
A 2014 valuation report commissioned by Mr Banks for investors valued his diamond mines at $79m.
The report also claimed that the Newlands mine could generate “an annual average net profit of $7m over the mine’s 13 year life.” Mr Banks told Channel 4 News in 2018 that his South African mines were worth a combined $100m.
In April 2015 a Diamond Bond offering investors the chance to pump money into the Newlands mine said it would yield diamonds for more than 20 years.
Mr Banks confirmed the mine was for sale after an advertisement for the Newlands mine was posted on Facebook on Tuesday.
“Newlands Diamond mine for sale in Barkly West. 400HA farm with Hartsriver front. 5 blows and river exploration yield quality diamonds. Price on request.”
Channel 4 News contacted the agent listed in the advertisement. He confirmed the mine was for sale, but refused to give further details without a signed non-disclosure agreement.
Mr Banks told Channel 4 News that he was continuing mining operations at Blaauwbosch mine, which is also owned by Mr Banks.
Mr Banks’s diamond mines have been the focus of questions about their profitability and claims they were used to seek funds from Russia, something Mr Banks has consistently denied.
In 2018 Channel 4 News reported that the mines were at the centre of a fierce legal battle between Mr Banks and his former business partner, Chris Kimber.
Court papers filed by Mr Kimber and obtained by Channel 4 News claimed the mines were struggling to meet costs, and that Mr Banks had sought investment from Russia.
Mr Kimber also alleged that money Mr Banks had promised for investment in the mines had been used to fund the Brexit campaign instead.
In March 2019 Channel 4 News obtained new evidence about the battle over the diamond mines.
The programme revealed emails and testimony showing Mr Banks and his South African associates had courted a top police general, who they urged to open a criminal investigation into Mr Kimber.
Emails revealed General Kholekile Galawe, the head of the crack Hawks police unit in Kimberley, was offered flights to London, and assistance in obtaining a UK visa.
General Galawe told the programme Mr Banks and his associates had also offered him a stake in a call centre business in Durban owned by Mr Banks.
At the time of broadcast, Arron Banks denied having had any business dealings with the police chief and claimed the story was a smear.
Mr Banks is currently under investigation by the National Crime Agency. They have confirmed that their probe into the source of the money he used to pay for his Brexit campaign remains “live”.
In a statement to Channel 4 News Mr Banks added:
“We have consistently denied any Russian involvement in any of our business interests , Brexit related or otherwise.”
“The South African police have confirmed there is no investigation into myself over any matter” he added.