Arron Banks met Russian ambassador a couple of times. So what?

Former UKIP donor Arron Banks who has announced he will not stand in general election

The founder of Leave.EU, Arron Banks, has confirmed he will appear before MPs this week to answer new allegations about his links with Russian Federation.

Reports on Sunday said the pair met three times, including lunching days after Mr Banks, Mr Wigmore and Mr Farage visited USA president elect Donald Trump in NY in November 2016.

Yakovenko proposed a business deal that would see Banks and Wigmore involved in the consolidation of six Russian goldmines into one company.

Banks gave around £9 million to the Leave.EU campaign and Grassroots Out Brexit campaign, and used to fund the UK Independence Party under the leadership of his friend, Nigel Farage.

Banks has also reportedly admitted that he handed over phone numbers for members of Donald Trump's transition team to Russian officials, after meeting with the United States president-elect in November 2016 in NY. The group operated separately from the official Vote Leave campaign.

Asked about the report at the G7 summit in Quebec on Saturday, Theresa May said: "I am sure that if there are any allegations that need investigation the proper authorities will do that".

His comments come as allegations that one of the financial backers of Brexit held meetings with the Russian ambassador to Britain, raising questions about Moscow's influence on the referendum.

In late may, Russian President Vladimir Putin called nonsense the assertion that Russia could intervene in adoption in the United Kingdom of the decision to withdraw this country from the European Union.

Defiant Mr Banks told reporters: "I had two boozy lunches with the Russian ambassador and another cup of tea with him".

The Observer claimed the emails suggested Mr Banks visited Moscow in February 2016 to meet key partners and financiers behind a gold project, including a Russian bank.

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They were said to have been introduced to Yakovenko by Alexander Udod - one of 23 suspected Russian intelligence officers subsequently ejected from the United Kingdom after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury.

Mr Yakovenko, who was allegedly invited to Mr Banks' referendum day and results parties, is said to have proposed a business deal concerning goldmines in Russian Federation.

The details were passed to The Sunday Times by the journalist Isabel Oakeshott, Banks's ghostwriter on The Bad Boys of Brexit, who is now writing a book with the Tory peer Lord Ashcroft on Russia's use of "hybrid warfare" to influence British politics.

"It's a convenient witch-hunt, both over Brexit and Trump", he added, referring to allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Banks and his ally, Wigmore, made repeated contact with Russian officials before the referendum to discuss business opportunities.

He told the paper nothing came of their discussions over the gold mine deal.

"We didn't profit from any business deals because I never pursued anything", he said.

The Russian embassy has said it has not intervened in United Kingdom domestic politics.

The paper quoted Andy Wigmore, a close associate of Banks who was present at the meeting, as saying that they did not offer "any information to (the ambassador) or any Russian any details of our campaign".

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