Britain’s financial watchdog has stepped into a row over the closure of former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage’s bank accounts, after Farage claimed NatWest’s (NWG.L) private bank Coutts had sought to cut him off on political grounds. NatWest was bailed out during the 2008 financial collapse and is still 39% owned by the people/government.
British banks are in the spotlight as the UK government has begun looking into concerns some have allegedly blacklisted certain customers over their politics.
Farage said on Tuesday that he had obtained a 40-page document from Coutts after filing a “subject access request” with the bank, to learn more about its rationale for proposing to shut the accounts. Reuters
The chief executive of the banking group that owns Coutts has apologised to Nigel Farage for “deeply inappropriate” comments about him as his account was closed.
"Disgraceful" Coutts 'De-Banked' Nigel Farage Because Of His Conservative Views, Internal Dossier Reveals https://t.co/00R3zVSSEa— zerohedge (@zerohedge) July 20, 2023
The former UKIP and Brexit Party leader claimed the bank took the action to close his account because his views did not align with the firm’s “values”.
Reports had suggested it was down to his finances not reaching the companies threshold.
Earlier this week, Mr Farage claimed to have a 40-page document that proved Coutts “exited” him because he was regarded as “xenophobic and racist” and a former “fascist”.
Coutts hit back claiming it did not close accounts “solely on the basis of legally held political and personal views”.
But the chief executive of the Natwest Group, Alison Rose has now apologised to him for “deeply inappropriate comments” made about him in documents prepared for the company’s wealth committee. Yahoo
Excellent breakdown at the Spectator .
Dame Alison Rose, the chief executive of NatWest, has apologised to Nigel Farage over the mishandling of his account closure.
Dame Alison Rose said it was not the policy of the bank to ‘exit a customer on the basis of legally held political and personal views’. Her apology in full:
Dear Mr Farage,
I am writing to apologise for the deeply inappropriate comments about yourself made in the now published papers prepared for the Wealth Committee. I would like to make it clear that they do not reflect the view of the bank.
I believe very strongly that freedom of expression and access to banking are fundamental to our society and it is absolutely not our policy to exit a customer on the basis of legally held political and personal views. To this end, I would also like to personally reiterate our offer to you of alternative banking arrangements at NatWest.
I fully understand yours and the public’s concern that the processes for bank account closure are not sufficiently transparent. Customers have a right to expect their bank to make consistent decisions against publicly available criteria and those decisions should be communicated clearly and openly with them, within the constraints imposed by the law.
To achieve this, sector wide change is required, but your experience, highlighted in recent days, has shown we also need to put our own processes under scrutiny too. As a result I am commissioning a full review of the Coutts processes for how these decisions are made and communicated, to ensure we provide better, clearer and more consistent experience for customers in the future.
The review will be reporting to me as NatWest Group CEO.
I welcome the FCA’s reviews of regulatory rules associated with Politically Exposed Persons, and we will implement the recommendations of our review alongside any changes that they or the Government makes to the overall regulatory framework.