Super wealthy pocket Brexit millions

Super wealthy pocket Brexit millions

   June 29, 2018  
 
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Super wealthy pocket Brexit millions

An extraordinarily detailed report from Bloomberg earlier this week shed more light on the manipulation of the sterling exchange rate in the hours before and after the EU referendum results started to trickle through in the early hours of 24th June 2016.

A central figure in the manipulation was one Nigel Farage. He denies personally profiting adding ruefully that he wished he had. Whether he did or not is beside the point. Farage worked as a commodities trader from the time he left school in 1982 and continued with various trading companies well into the early years of the 21st century including a later period as a currency trader, overlapping with his part-time role as an MEP. Farage knows how markets work and how information moves market prices up or down.

What is clear from public record is Farage conceded Leave had lost the referendum when his concession speech was broadcast by Sky just after 10.00pm when the polls had closed. Politicians never concede until the trend is clearly established. So why did Farage indicate Remain had won before results began to come through several hours later and were actually indicative of a likely Leave win? A question we will answer as we sift through the new information from Bloomberg.

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No public exit polls were conducted so the broadcasters – Sky, ITV and the BBC who jointly finance these for general elections did not have exit poll data to share with viewers. Enter Farage to fill the vacuum in an interview recorded at 9.40p.m. – before the polls had closed, assuring him of immediate coverage come 10.00p.m.

Farage according to the Bloomberg investigation continued to indicate he thought Remain had won. “he twice told the world on election night that Leave had likely lost, when he had information suggesting his side had actually won. He also changed his story about who told him what regarding that very valuable information.”

Professor John Curtice ‘was involved’

Professor John Curtice, the media’s ‘go to polls man’ for analysis and interpretation explained that his predictive model relied on past comparable votes and for Brexit there was none. So, as for the Scottish independence referendum, there was no Brexit exit poll for the broadcasters as a basis for early discussion until results began to come through and some sort of pattern might be discerned. Enter Nigel Farage into a favourite place in the media spotlight when there was no contradictory evidence in the public domain.

Every known polling company had been working for weeks on methodologies then throughout polling day collected data as people left the polling stations, rather undermining Curtice’s claim that a publically available exit poll could not be provided as soon as polls closed.

It is illegal under electoral law to publish exit-polling information while people are still voting. Yet all the major polling companies were working round the clock crunching the data every hour of polling day and passing it on to their currency trader and hedge fund clients and ‘Curtice was involved’ according to Bloomberg.

The law on exit polling lacks clarity on a full interpretation of what ‘’publish” means and has never been tested. It seems parts of the private sector can have access to this information but the wider public cannot. Polling companies interpreted the law differently. Some thought they could take on multiple clients. YouGov decided, after legal advice, they should only take on exit polling work for a single client as that was less likely to be interpreted as ‘a section of the public’ as set out in the legislation.

For YouGov it was a big money earner because the value of their work to the client could be worth hundreds of millions. They multiplied their normal fee by 10 and charged their client £1 million. The exit polling data was reported on an hourly timescale with three YouGov personnel working in the client’s data crunching centre according to Bloomberg.

Curtice told Bloomberg, “polling company ICM paid him for his work on behalf of a hedge fund called Rokos Capital Management.” Curtice said he was not involved in the polling or any analysis. His client was ICM and he helped them build the model that enabled Rokos to predict the likely outcome of the vote. Rokos Capital Management is reported by Bloomberg to have made $100milion on their sterling trades.

Bloomberg also reported “according to two sources” that Steve Fisher associate professor at Oxford University and a member of Curtice’s media polling team “helped Survation design the syndicated exit poll it conducted for multiple hedge funds.” Survation is Farage’s favourite polling company and it has been alleged, in two published accounts, Survation was the source of Farage’s polling information that Leave was ahead. This was known to Farage ‘at some point’ on the evening of 23rd June.

As long as these two academics did not know the predictions of the work they had helped design they could turn up in TV studios to contribute to analysis as results came in whilst knowing predictive work had been undertaken which could have a significant impact on the value of sterling.

Harold Wilson was the last UK Prime Minister who tried to take on the currency speculators – even introducing capital controls. Those days are gone as are UK imports and exports being in balance as they were in Wilson’s time.

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Russell Bruce
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