Source: EU Today

Farage backer Aaron Banks faces allegations of “diamond smuggling”

Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) is reportedly examining fresh allegations concerning Arron Banks and his South African mines, amid allegations of diamond smuggling.

Banks, who owns diamond mines in South Africa, has faced claims by a former business partner that he tried to get hold of black-market diamonds originating from Zimbabwe in order to supplement his South African diamond exports with the illegal supply, pretending they were all from his mines.

The diamond trade in Zimbabwe is strictly controlled because of corruption and human rights abuses. Russia also exerts a significant influence over the country’s illegal diamond industry, according to western intelligence sources.

The allegations by Mr Banks’s former business partner also included the claim that he had been ‘dealing with Russians’ in the diamond scheme.

Banks has been suspected of using Russian contacts to further his interests in the past. In August of last year, The Guardian reported that he had been offered the chance of making potentially enormous profits in a deal featuring a Russian gold company.

Alexander Yakovenko Nigel Farage 2

The offer was reportedly made through Alexander Yakovenko, Russia’s ambassador in London (pictured left with Nigel Farage), who was reported by the Mail on Sunday in March of this year to be a former Soviet spy who was expelled from the United States in the 1980s. Yakovenko and the Russian government denied the allegation.

In his early years, he attended the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations, which is generally seen as an academic training ground for fast-track KGB agents. He is also reported to have been awarded a military medal “For Merits to the Fatherland” in 1996, an accolade often given to spies, including Andrey Lugovoi, one of the two men wanted by the British police for the murder of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006

Banks was also reported in 2018 as having met with Alexander Udod, a Russian diplomat who introduced him to the Ambassador. Udod was later expelled from the UK for suspected spying.

Banks is already under investigation by the NCA over his donation to pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.EU three years ago.

The Electoral Commission had referred the case after investigating whether Mr Banks was the ‘true source’ of the funding.

Banks has also been widely reported for his ‘generous’ sponsorship of Nigel Farage, and both men have been under suspicion of receiving Russian funds.

Both men have denied this.