Friday, 24 February 2017

Investigations launched into EU referendum spending



Investigations have been launched into the spending of Stronger In and Vote Leave, the lead campaigns in the EU referendum.
 
The Electoral Commission announced the probes as it revealed new figures showing a total of more than £32m was spent on the campaign, making it the most expensive referendum in British political history.


The Leave side received £16.4m in donations, while Remain got £15.1m.


After an initial inspection of spending returns from both sides, the Commission found that neither Stronger In nor Vote Leave had submitted all of the necessary invoices and receipts to back up their accounts.


Details of suppliers were missing for some payments, the watchdog said.


An probe has also been launched into missing details of suppliers, invoices and receipts in the Liberal Democrats' return.


Individual campaigner Peter Harris is also facing an investigation, after delivered his spending report late and without the required audit form.


The Commission is also undertaking further examination of apparent discrepancies in returns submitted by the European Movement, UKIP, Labour Leave, Grassroots Out and Conservatives In, before deciding whether to begin investigations.


Its director of political finance, Bob Posner, said: "It is disappointing that some campaigners, including both lead campaigners, appear to have not fully reported all their spending as they should have.
 
 
"Missing spending details undermines transparency and makes the returns harder for the public to understand.


"Where it appears campaigners have not fulfilled their legal obligations, we have begun and will continue to take action to deal with this."


A Vote Leave spokesman said: "Vote Leave's accounts were approved by external auditors and we believe we have fully complied with all the spending regulations for the EU referendum.


"Vote Leave will fully co-operate with the Electoral Commission's investigation.


"When we handed in our return on 23 December, we realised that we had submitted it with excess spending that did not need to be reported so it was therefore amended.


"We were also missing a handful of invoices from suppliers but these have since been provided."





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