A review conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK has found no evidence to support claims that politicians are being denied bank accounts because of their views. The investigation was launched after former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage claimed that his accounts with Coutts, a private bank, were about to be closed due to a misalignment of views.
The probe prompted complaints from other politicians, leading the government to order the FCA review. However, sources familiar with the situation have stated that the forthcoming findings will show that political views have not been the “primary” reason for account closures across the 34 banks and payment companies included in the investigation.
Nigel Farage expressed his dissatisfaction with the findings, stating that there were numerous examples of prominent Brexiteers experiencing account closures. However, the FCA declined to comment on the matter.
The review examined data from June 2022 to June 2023. Although Farage made public statements regarding the impending closure of his accounts in late June, his accounts with Coutts remained active until the end of July. Farage also published extracts from a dossier compiled by Coutts, which stated that serving him would be incompatible with the bank’s position as an inclusive organization.
The FCA acknowledges that the data used in its review was compiled hastily and that not all banks have effective systems for monitoring and recording reasons for account closures. As a result, the regulator plans to conduct further work to ensure fair access to banking services. There has been some concern within the government about the FCA’s ability to provide detailed data on the widespread nature of account closures due to political views.
Politicians from various parties, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have condemned banks for closing accounts based on political views. The FCA is also conducting a separate review on the treatment of politically exposed persons by financial services companies, which is set to be completed next year.
Sources: Financial Times