A bank boss has apologised to Nigel Farage after he complained about his accounts being closed over “politics”.
Dame Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest Group, which includes Coutts, has said sorry to Farage for “deeply inappropriate comments” made about him in official papers, adding she is “commissioning a full review of the Coutts processes” on bank account closures.
It comes amid concerns about banks blacklisting certain customers.
The former MEP, one-time UKIP leader, and ex-Brexit Party leader alleged that Coutts – a private bank linked to high net worth individuals – “exited” him because of his personal politics.
He said this claim was backed up by a 40-page “prejudiced and nasty” Coutts document created by the “metropolitan elite” to explain its decision.
Farage said the bank made the decision because they saw him as “xenophobic and racist” and a former “fascist”.
In a letter to the former leader, Rose insisted the assessment of Farage “does not reflect the views of the bank”.
She stressed that “freedom of expression” and access to banking were fundamental to society, saying she has ordered a review of Coutts’ processes.
She added: “To this end, I would also like to personally reiterate our offer to you of alternate banking arrangements at NatWest.
“I fully understand your and the public’s concern that the processes for bank account closure are not sufficiently transparent. Customers have a right to expert 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.”
Meanwhile, banks in Britain will be forced to explain and delay any decision to close an account under new rules announced by the Treasury on Thursday.
“The government has stepped in to address fears that banks are terminating accounts because they disagree with someone’s political beliefs,” it said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the Financial Conduct Authority said it was talking to NatWest about the handling of Farage’s accounts.
Under the new rules, banks will need to explain any closure and customers will be given more time – 90 days – to challenge a decision through the Financial Ombudsman Service, or find a replacement bank, the Treasury said.
“Banks occupy a privileged place in society, and it is right that we fairly balance the rights of banks to act in their commercial interest, with the right for everyone to express themselves freely,” economic secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffith, said.