BBC 🔵 Bank accounts not being closed over views – watchdog – Shango Media

BBC 🔵 Bank accounts not being closed over views – watchdog

Nigel FarageGetty Images

The City watchdog has found no proof that politicians’ bank accounts are being closed primarily because of their views, the BBC understands.

The findings by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), due to be published later today, follow a row over the closure of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s account at Coutts.

Mr Farage, who claimed his account was shut over his views, told the BBC the findings were “total nonsense”.

The FCA declined to comment.

According to the Financial Times, which first reported the news, the FCA’s investigation looked at data from 34 banks and payment companies covering the period from June 2022 to June 2023.

Out of the information it examined, there were no cases where political views were the main reason for personal accounts being shut.

Mr Farage called the findings “absolutely farcical”.

“To suggest no one gets debanked for their political views is total nonsense,” he said, adding that there were “dozens” of examples of where this had happened.

“It’s very difficult to believe the FCA can say this and I can only conclude that they’re part of the problem, rather than part of the solution,” he said.

The FCA had already been preparing to look into the issue of “debanking” prior to the row between Mr Farage and NatWest, which owns the private bank Coutts.

Last month, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt called on the regulator to speed up its probe in the wake of the row.

In a letter to the FCA, he asked it to “urgently investigate” whether account closures for political reasons are widespread.

The Treasury has also announced plans to subject UK banks to stricter rules over closing customer accounts.

  • Hunt asks regulator to examine extent of debanking
  • Treasury to meet bank bosses over Farage row
  • Farage gets apology from banking boss in Coutts row

When Coutts decided to close Mr Farage’s account, he said it did not give him a reason.

Mr Farage subsequently obtained a document looking at his suitability as a Coutts customer, which included minutes from a meeting in November last year reviewing his account.

It confirmed that Mr Farage had fallen below their publicly available commercial criteria to be a customer.

However, the 40-page document also flagged concerns that he was “xenophobic and racist”, and raised concerns about the reputational risk of having Mr Farage as a client.

It said that to have Mr Farage as a customer was not consistent with Coutts’ “position as an inclusive organisation” given his “publicly stated views”.

NatWest has since announced an independent review, with lawyers looking at the closure of Mr Farage’s account and other instances of customers losing Coutts accounts.

Dame Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest Group, quit after saying she had made a “serious error of judgment” in speaking to a BBC journalist about Mr Farage’s Coutts account.

The boss of Coutts, Peter Flavel, also quit due to the row.

In August, Mr Farage said Coutts had offered to reinstate his personal and business accounts.

The BBC had initially reported the ex-MEP’s account was closed because he no longer met the wealth threshold for Coutts, citing a source familiar with the matter.

The BBC has since apologised to Mr Farage for the inaccurate story.

Related Topics

  • UK banking
  • Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • Nigel Farage
  • NatWest Group
  • Banking
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