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Review Finds Closure of Nigel Farage’s Bank Accounts Primarily Driven by Business Factors



Mr. Farage’s political views were evaluated solely for reputational risks and were not the primary factor in the decision, although Mr. Farage disagrees. According to an external review conducted by Travers Smith (TS), the closure of Nigel Farage’s accounts by private bank Coutts was primarily a commercial decision. The review, which was ordered by Coutts owner NatWest Group, found that Coutts considered its relationship with Farage to be commercially unviable. While evidence was not entirely consistent, the review concluded that the decision to close Farage’s accounts was predominantly commercial, although there is no universally agreed definition of the terms “commercial” and “political.”

The report’s credibility was disputed by Mr. Farage, who claimed that it had whitewashed the decision to close his bank accounts. Previously obtained documents revealed that Coutts’ Wealth Reputational Risk Committee deemed Farage’s views incompatible with the bank’s position as an inclusive organization. According to the documents, the committee recommended Coutts exit from the relationship when Farage’s mortgage expired in July or earlier if adverse press checks revealed additional reputational risks. The committee also highlighted the additional costs associated with managing the accounts of high-profile individuals like Farage. However, TS clarified that this document was not a record of the final decision but rather a submission made prior to the meeting.

TS stated that Coutts assessed the commercial viability of maintaining Farage’s account using general metrics applicable to all politically exposed persons (PEPs) or high-risk clients. It concluded that the income generated from Farage’s account was significantly lower than the costs incurred in maintaining the accounts. While reputational risks were considered, TS emphasized that they were not the determining factor. If the relationship were deemed commercially viable, Coutts would likely have kept Farage’s accounts despite the perceived reputational risks. TS also found no evidence that Farage’s pro-Brexit stance or party-political affiliations influenced the decision to exit him.

Regarding the extensive references to Farage’s public-stated views, TS stated that these issues only played a role in the decision when considered in the context of reputational risk to Coutts and non-alignment with the bank’s purpose. TS also acknowledged potential shortcomings in the communication of the decision to Farage, stating that the bank’s description of it as a “commercial exit” was not conveyed in the exit letters.

NatWest Group Chairman Sir Howard Davies acknowledged the serious failings in the treatment of Farage and apologized for the experience falling short of expected standards. The bank is committed to implementing all the recommendations in the report and making substantive changes to its policies and procedures to prevent a recurrence. Farage expressed his distrust of TS due to its Chair Emeritus Chris Hale’s opposition to Brexit. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recently ruled that the former CEO of NatWest breached rules by sharing information she should not have, infringing on Farage’s data protection rights.

In response to the ICO’s decision, Farage criticized the possibility of rewarding the former CEO with a significant severance package, considering the serious failings. NatWest has committed to disclosing the relevant outcomes regarding the remuneration as soon as possible.



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