‘Debanked’ political leaders Nigel Farage and Richard Tice react with anger, calling the report a ‘cover-up stitch-up by the Establishment.’
A review by the financial regulator said that no banks reported that they had closed accounts primarily due to someone’s political views.
It said that “by far” the most common reasons providers gave for closing, suspending, or declining an account were “because it was inactive/dormant or because there were concerns about financial crime.”
The probe was launched in July after former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had his account closed by down by the prestigious bank Coutts.
Mr. Farage had been with them for over 40 years and said his bank closed his account with “no explanation.”
Both Mr. Farage and Reform Party leader Richard Tice, who also said that he was “debanked” because of his political views, reacted with anger at the report.
Mr. Farage called the recent report a “whitewash and a joke,” with Mr Tice calling it “a disgrace.”
“While no bank, building society, or payment firm reported to us that they had closed accounts primarily due to someone’s political views, further work is needed for us to be sure,” FCA chief executive Nikhil Rathi said.
“As we undertake that work, the time is also right for a debate on how we balance access to bank accounts with the threat of financial crime, as well as firms’ reasonable risk and commercial appetites,” Mr. Rathi said.
“An important question for policymakers is whether all individuals, businesses, and organisations should have the right to an account, as is the case in some other countries,” he said.
“What’s more, international comparisons suggest robust digital identities could play an important role not only in countering financial crime but also in aiding financial inclusion,” he added.
The FCA said that it will be doing further work with firms to verify the data and to better understand the reasons behind, for example, the closure of accounts due to reputational risk.
When Mr. Farage said he was “debanked,” he said he had been persecuted for his views.
It was later revealed in a 40-page memo by a Wealth Reputational Risk Committee that support for former President Donald Trump as well as his views on immigration, net zero, and the COVID-19 vaccine are listed as reasons to exit him.
“If we don’t have a regulator that is fit for purpose, what hope is there for our banking industry?” he added.
“By the way, the same Financial Times that wrote I had been debanked through lack of funds, which was wrong,” he added.
Mr. Farage said “Haven’t they seen the other Ukip members, Conservative members, and Brexit Party MEPs who’ve been debanked? It’s a list as long as your arm.”
Mr. Farage added that he believes the FCA “are overtly political.”
“They have been putting huge pressure on the banks and financial institutions to follow the diversity and inclusion agenda, yes of course that matters far more than protecting customers’ money,” he said.
This was after he was risk-assessed by the reinsurance company Swiss Re.