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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 25th October 2018

The Brexit-South African connection

Blue Lines

Few of the estimated 700,000 people who marched through central London last Saturday urging a 'People's Vote' – another referendum – on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union can have been aware of the potential impact on their cause of a pending law suit in Kimberley, capital of South Africa's diamond-mining area.

The financier Arron Banks, who donated £9 million – the UK's biggest ever political donation – to the Brexit campaign is in dispute with a former partner in a diamond mine enterprise in South Africa, Christopher Kimber. The 'Hawks' investigative unit is probing Kimber's claims about criminal activity by Banks, who is also accused of setting up a training camp where unlicensed firearms may have been kept. Banks denies any wrongdoing across the board.

One of Kimber's allegations is that Banks was offered lucrative connections with a Russian diamond company, Alrosa, and opportunities in gold-mining in Russia. Kimber says that Banks diverted investment money raised for mining in South Africa and Lesotho to the pro-Brexit website Leave.EU and other anti-EU campaigns, all of which Banks also denies.

Did any of Banks's political donations originate in Moscow? He insists not, but some British 'remainers' are salivating at the possibility of the June 2016 referendum being declared null and void, should it be proved that Moscow gold swung the British electorate against the EU.