Hacked documents from a news website in the United Kingdom demonstrate just how close a race could get.
Britain’s The Sunday Times newspaper published more than 1,000 pages of emails from the account of the former American businessman Arthur Finkelstein, a member of the board of directors of Fidessa PLC, the official operating company of stock trading technology, data and services used by the financial industry worldwide.
The emails include documents showing a confidential meeting between British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and anti-Brexit campaign and Brexit champion Arron Banks — who spent more than $20 million funding his campaign — in December 2015. Banks is also the owner of failed investment company GoSkippy and the group that purchased the Leave.EU group, which had a major role in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
The emails from December 2015 were discovered in early 2016 as part of an investigation by BuzzFeed News, which first reported them in November 2017.
The emails appear to show a flurry of activity after Fidessa officials announced the sale to an unnamed party, though the newspaper didn’t say who. A month later, Banks says he received a phone call from Johnson, who mentioned a site that had nominated him for a government job. He wanted Banks to hire a British-based media agency to help promote the deal.
Banks stated in a tweet that he had done nothing wrong and called the United Kingdom “the mother of all democracies.”
The connection between Johnson and Banks stems from his brother, Jo, who owns the insurer Allied Irish Banks PLC. The Johnson family is also the biggest shareholder in Halifax Building Society, a mutual savings and loan organization.
That connection has also drawn the suspicion of some of his supporters. After the Brexit referendum results were announced, a prominent British news and political editor tweeted that the email communication with Johnson was “not a coincidence” because the Bank’s biggest shareholder was Fidessa’s biggest customer.
But according to Bloomberg, a HamiltonCox spokesman said, “claims the relevant contracts between Fidessa and Allied Irish Banks were signed on the day the ownership of AIB was transferred by the regulator are incorrect.”