UK’s electoral watchdog probing Vote Leave

The U.K.'s Electoral Commission has launched an investigation into Vote Leave, the officially designated Brexit campaign during the June 2016 referendum that triggered the end of Britain's 44-year EU membership.

The investigation will look into whether Vote Leave broke campaign finance rules, particularly in certain extraordinary expenses by the campaign as it paid Pound 625,000 ($827,000) to clear bills with a digital agency and Pound 100,000 ($132,285) to a Eurosceptic group named Veterans for Britain.

The commission said it has reasonable grounds to suspect an offense has been committed. Bob Posner, the watchdog's director of political finance and regulation, said there were legitimate questions over the funding of campaigners which risks causing harm to voters' confidence in the referendum.

"There is significant public interest in being satisfied that the facts are known about Vote Leave's spending on the campaign, particularly as it was a lead campaigner with a greater spending limit than any other campaigners on the 'leave' side, Posner said.

The Electoral Commission launched a separate investigation into spending by Leave.EU, a campaign backed by Nigel Farage, then-leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and donor Arron Banks.

Another investigation by the commission on spending by an anti-Brexit campaign, Britain Stronger in Europe, also continues.

The controversial referendum last June saw the British electorate voting to leave the European Union. The U.K. is continuing its negotiations to exit the bloc and is expected to leave in March 2019.

Source: Anadolu Agency