Millionaire insurance tycoon Arron Banks spent close to half a million pounds funding Nigel Farage’s lavish lifestyle, according to the findings of a Channel 4 News investigation.
The investigation to be broadcast tonight reports that Rock Services Ltd, a company owned by Mr Banks, leased a £4.4m 3-bedroom Chelsea home with garage for Mr Farage at an estimated rent of £13,000 a month in the summer of 2016.
It is claimed Mr Banks also fitted and furnished the house, buying crockery, chairs and bathroom accessories and even a shower curtain for Mr Farage.
Former UKIP leader Farage – who now fronts the Brexit Party – was also said to have been handed a Land Rover Discovery, valued at £32,300, for his personal use.
Millionaire Arron Banks (left) with current Brexit party leader Nigel Farage. Mr Banks has reportedly been funding Mr Farage’s lavish lifestyle since 2016 – providing him with a £4.4m Chelsea home over the summer and a £32,000 Land Rover Discovery with close protection driver (pictured together in 2014 after Mr Banks donated £1 million to UKIP, Mr Farage’s former party)
Mr Farage’s bolthole was this three-bedroom Georgian house, worth an estimated £4.4 million, in a quiet Chelsea side street
Mr Banks, 53, 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, it is claimed.
Channel 4 News reports that it has seen invoices, emails and other documents which lay bare the extent of Nigel Farage’s financial reliance on Arron Banks after he announced he was standing down as UKIP leader following the referendum in 2016. Mr Banks dismissed the claims as ‘smears’.
The investigation also reported 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, 55, continued to serve as a member of the European Parliament representing South East England on a salary of €100,000 a year plus expenses.
The documents are said to reveal that Mr Banks, through his companies, organised and funded multiple visits to the United States in the year following the Brexit vote.
Channel 4 News claims that for the year after the EU referendum Mr Banks, through his companies, organised and funded multiple visits to the United States for Mr Farage (pictured in June 2016)
In July 2016, Mr Banks reportedly flew Mr Farage business class to Cleveland, Ohio to attend the Republican National Convention.
Mr Banks, through Southern Rock, is also said to have paid American lobbying firm Goddard Gunster £64,064 for a ‘Nigel Farage Brexit Policy Luncheon’.
Mr Banks paid 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, the investigation reports.
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.
Mr Banks, through Southern Rock, paid American lobbying firm Goddard Gunster £64,064 for a ‘Nigel Farage Brexit Policy Luncheon’ and paid Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson (pictured) £11,305.41 to interview Mr Farage at the event
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, Channel 4 News reports that Rock Services arranged for Farage and Wigmore to travel to America on multiple occasions, including visits to St Louis, Missouri. Farage and Wigmore also flew to Las Vegas for the Presidential debates, and stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Banks, Wigmore and 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 seen by Channel 4 News 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.
The investigation also cites invoices that reportedly show Goddard Gunster billed £108,684 for a lavish party in Farage’s honour at the Hay-Adams Hotel.
(Left to right) Gerry Gunster, Arron Banks, Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Andy Wigmore, Raheem Kassam. Nigel Farage was the first British politician to meet President Elect Donald Trump at the Trump Tower in front of the gold lift in 2016
The Channel 4 News investigation claims that, the day before Mr Farage was photographed with President Trump in Trump Tower, 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 reportedly suggested a 50/50 ‘division of profits’ between Gerry Gunster and Arron Banks, with a ‘separate agreement with Nigel Farage.’
Gunster and Banks are said to have discussed a number of business opportunities and held meetings with prospective clients.
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.
Mr Farage (right) was the first British politician to meet Donald Trump (left) when he was president elect
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.’
In a statement Mr Banks said that Channel 4 was attempting to ‘smear myself and Nigel’ before the European elections this months
Channel 4 News said it 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, it was reported that Mr Farage again refused to answer questions saying ‘no comment’.
A video from the campaign trail, Channel 4 News’ Matt Frei can be heard asking the Brexit Party leader: ‘You pride yourself on being an ordinary man in touch with the people but are you in fact a kept man?’
After Mr Farage offers no real response, Mr Frei can be heard saying: ‘It’s a legitimate question about the money you were paid by Arron Banks between 2016 and 2017 funding your lifestyle and your political operation to the tune of almost half a million pounds.’
To which Mr Farage responds: ‘Oh three or four times that i’d have thought.’
Mr Farage is then shown repeatedly refusing to answer Mr Frei’s questions – repeating ‘no comment’ and ‘not really’ when asked to respond to the figures being quoted to him regarding Mr Banks’ spending.
‘You rail against the elite… and yet you’re living the lifestyle of the elite… financed by very rich friends,’ Mr Frei can be heard saying.
‘Terrible isn’t it?,’ Mr Farage replies.
In a statement Mr Banks said: ‘Channel 4 attempts to smear myself and Nigel… at a time when the Brexit Party is riding high in the polls, so it should come as no surprise to anyone.’
Channel 4 News said Mr Gunster declined to provide a statement but claimed the programme’s information was ‘not credible’.
The full investigation will be broadcast today on Channel 4 News at 7pm.