In a Wednesday press release, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) stated there is no evidence to date that any bank in Britain closed an account based on a person’s political views or beliefs. This investigation followed a request by Jeremy Hunt, the British Finance Minister, after rumours in this regard surfaced.
Nigel Farage’s claims that his account was ‘debanked’ by Coutts, which is part of NatWest Bank, based on his political views as leader of the Brexit Party, partly motivated this investigation. The politician presented a document that showed the decision to close his account was partially due to his political opinions.
However, this internal bank document also noted commercial issues. This matter snowballed and eventually ended in the bombshell departures of Alison Rose, the NatWest Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Peter Flavel, the Coutts CEO.
In its statement, the FCA indicated it examined data from 34 banks and building societies and focused on the period between July 2022 and June 2023. It conceded that due to the urgency of the request, there were limits and gaps in the information provided. The FCA said it was not possible to put forth a reliable report in view of this, but it maintained:
Consequently, the information we have received so far does not suggest that accounts have been closed because of the political beliefs or views lawfully expressed by account holders. By far the most common reasons providers gave for declining, suspending or terminating an account were because it was inactive/dormant or because there were concerns about financial crime.