Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Leave.EU fined £70000 over EU referendum funding and spending

Leave.EU fined £70000 over EU referendum funding and spending

Brexit campaign group Leave.EU has been fined £70,000 for breaking spending rules during the EU referendum.

The Electoral Commission handed down the penalty - the maximum fine it's able to issue - after announcing the findings of their investigation on Friday.

The Eletoral Commission has referred an individual on the campaign to the Metropolitan Police.

Several inquiries are underway into spending and advertising during the referendum, amid allegations about the use of Facebook users' data to influence US and British campaigns.

The Electoral Commission concluded last month that there were reasonable grounds to suspect Liz Bilney had delivered an incomplete and incorrect spending return for the Brexit campaign group after the referendum.

The group, co-founded by former Ukip backer Arron Banks, overspent by at least £77,380 - 10% over the limit for non-party registered groups - an investigation found.

Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica had previously denied working together on the Brexit campaign.

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The commission also found that Leave.EU inaccurately reported three loans it had received. The dates the transactions were entered into, the repayment date, the interest rate and the provider of the transactions were all incorrectly reported.

- Leave.EU failed to provide the required invoice or receipt for 97 payments of over 200 pounds, cumulatively totaling 80,224 pounds.

"The rules we enforce were put in place by Parliament to ensure transparency and public confidence in our democratic processes", Bob Posner, Electoral Commission Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel, said. Leave.EU was not the officially designated "leave" campaign group during the referendum. "The level of fine we have imposed has been constrained by the cap on the Commission's fines".

It said the Electoral Commission was "unable to produce a shred of evidence relating to the original allegations" about Cambridge Analytica, reiterating that it did not work with the consultancy.

Banks attacked the decision and threatened to take legal action.

He added: "The EC went big game fishing and found a few "aged" dead sardines on the beach".

"I can tell you one thing: we will not be letting matters rest here, we will be going to court to challenge this. So much for the big conspiracy", Banks said.

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