Farage could face investigation over EU funds
by Keith Perry
15 April 2014
Nigel Farage could face an expenses inquiry into allegations concerning £60,000 of “missing” European Union funds paid into his personal bank account.
The Ukip leader has received £15,500 a year from the EU since at least 2009 to pay for the upkeep of his constituency office, a small converted grain store near Bognor Regis, West Sussex, according to transparency reports filed on the party’s website.
However, the building was given rent-free to Mr Farage by Ukip supporters 15 years ago, The Times reported.
Utilities and other non-rental costs amount to no more than £3,000 a year, according to the former office manager, leaving about £12,000 a year unexplained.
Mr Farage, whose poll ratings rose sharply after he condemned the former culture secretary, Maria Miller, over her expenses, confirmed that he received his office rent free.
However, he insisted that he legitimately spent more than £1,000 a month to run the 620 sq ft property.
A former senior Ukip official has filed a formal complaint about Mr Farage to the EU anti-fraud office OLAF. The complainant wishes to remain anonymous because of “physical threats” allegedly made by other Ukip officials against members who raised questions about the party’s finances.
An EU spokesman confirmed: “It is on the MEP’s honour [!] that the assumption is made that the money is spent properly.”
A Ukip official said: “Nigel Farage is confident that he has abided by European parliamentary rules at all times when spending allowances.”
The spokesman said the allegations “lack substance”, adding: “The Lyminster office is not the sole address that incurs expenditure in the pursuance of Mr Farage’s job as an MEP, though it is the most important one.”
All MEPs receive a general expenditure allowance of about £3,800 a month to rent and run an office.
No MEP is required to file receipts to show how this money is spent, opening the system to potential abuse.
Mr Farage accepted that MEPs “don’t need any receipts or any justification” to receive EU allowances. He said he used his allowance to run the grain store as well as a smaller office at his home.
He said: “I don’t pay rent on the office but I obviously pay for everything else.