Arron Banks, a British financier who bankrolled the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, has long bragged about his “boozy six-hour lunch” with the Russian ambassador eight months before the vote.
Some also wondered about Mr. Banks’s Russian-born wife and their custom license plate, X MI5 SPY, after the British intelligence agency, MI5. But Mr. Banks always laughed off questions about his ties to the Kremlin.
Now, a leaked record of some of Mr. Banks’s emails suggest that he and his closest adviser had a more engaged relationship with Russian diplomats than he has disclosed.
While Mr. Banks was spending more than eight million British pounds to promote a break with the European Union — an outcome the Russians eagerly hoped for — his contacts at the Russian Embassy in London were opening the door to at least three potentially lucrative investment opportunities in Russian-owned gold or diamond mines.
One of Mr. Banks’s business partners, and a fellow backer of Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, took the Russians up on at least one of the deals.
The extent of these business discussions, which have not been previously reported, raise new questions about whether the Kremlin sought to reward critical figures in the Brexit campaign. Much as in Washington, where investigations are underway into the possibility that Donald J. Trump’s campaign may have cooperated with the Russians, Britain is now grappling with whether Moscow tried to use its close ties with any British citizens to promote Brexit.
In Washington, the investigators for the special prosecutor, Robert S. Mueller III, and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have also obtained records of Mr. Banks’s communications, including some with Russian diplomats and about Russian business deals.
And they have taken a special interest in close ties Mr. Banks and other Brexit leaders built to the Trump campaign.
On Nov. 12, 2016, Mr. Banks met President-elect Trump in Trump Tower. Upon his return to London, Mr. Banks had another lunch with the Russian ambassador where they discussed the Trump visit.
I deplore these McCarthyist accusations, and even more I deplore the idea of anybody discussing any factor that affected the result of an election but the actions of the losing candidate, the sole variable that affects the outcome of any election. Of course, I support a full investigation…into how the DNC RIGGED the primaries by having some guy send an email proposing a dumb idea everyone thought was dumb and then nothing happened.