On the night of the 15th of September 2016, following celebrations at his final party conference as leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage went skinny dipping in the sea off Bournemouth beach. Accompanying Farage were his press advisor Andy Wigmore and major UKIP donor, businessman Arron Banks.
As well as donating £1 million to UKIP, switching his (significantly smaller) donations from the Conservative party, Banks is the founder of the alternative campaign for Britain to leave the European Union. Although known publicly as Leave.EU, Banks' campaign was officially registered as a business under the name Better For The Country Limited, by STM Fidecs - a financial services provider operating primarily in Gibraltar. STM specialises in financial planning for "high-net-worth individuals making cross-border investments” and businesses "expanding into, or re-locating to, other, frequently lower, tax jurisdictions” and previously counted Banks as a significant shareholder.
STM Fidecs, alongside companies such as Fidecs Nominees Ltd. and Fidecs Trust Company Ltd, is registered in the Montagu Pavilion, Gibraltar, a seafront bathing pavilion that was opened in the 1930s but closed in the 1980s when the sea it opened onto was reclaimed as land to allow for expansion of Gibraltar’s port. From the pavilion STM Group and its subsidiaries has registered and managed numerous companies in Gibraltar and other secrecy jurisdictions around the world such as the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.
Banks was registered as a director of Better for the Country Ltd. in January 2016, under the name Mr Arron Fraser Andrew Banks. In the past, he has used a number of name variations to fill records for his companies - a classic tactic to hide the true links between businesses and those invested or investing in it: Aron Fraser Andrew Banks, Arron Andrew Fraser Banks and Arron Fraser Andrew Banks. Under the name Aaron Banks, a misspelling of his first name and an avoidance of his more unusual middle names, Banks is not connected to Leave.EU, but is named as a director of ICS Risk Holdings Limited which, through a subsidiary in the low-tax jurisdiction of the Isle of Man, appear to provide insurance services.
Having been registered through a financial services company with links to Mossack Fonseca (as a secretary of Parliament Lane Nominees Limited, in turn a director of PRI Holdings, set up by Mossack Fonseca), Better For the Country Limited undertakes a journey through addresses to bring it to its place as a UK company. First of all it moves to an address in Barry, South Wales, and from there, later on to Wimbledon, in London. Later, on the same day in June as the Wimbledon move the company is transferred to a Mayfair address and, then, back once again to Wimbledon. In October, an address change is made from Wimbledon to Bristol and later, in November it moves back to Wimbledon. In January 2016, the company moves back to Bristol.
Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum - in which 96% of the Gibraltar electorate voted to remain in Europe - Banks has indicated his intention to turn the support for Leave.EU into a right-wing pressure group to ensure there is no ‘backsliding’ on what has become known as Brexit. Discussing the success of the campaign, Banks stated that:
The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.Arron Banks
Nigel Farage became leader of UKIP (for the third time) after his successor, Diane James, left the post after less than a month. Following a leadership election he, yet again, stepped down. He was the first British politician contacted by US President Elect, Donald Trump after his election victory. During his campaign, Trump stated that he considered himself “smart” for not having paid federal income tax for some years.