epa03306371 A logo of Coutts bank, that wanted to close the account of Nigel Farage on political grounds. EPA/STEFFEN SCHMIDT


Farage ‘in talks to keep his Coutts account open’ but vows to fight ‘de-banking’


British private bank and wealth manager Coutts has extended an offer to former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage to restore his bank accounts.

Farage said there was “an exchange of letters” between him and the bank about “holding his account”. This would indicate a reversal of Coutts’ original decision to shut his facilities with the lender.

Initially, Coutts had made it appear it ditched Farage because he lacked the necessary funds to have an account with the lender. But when the ex-politician-turned-broadcaster obtained internal documents from the bank, it turned out it had in fact closed his account because of what it saw as his disagreeable “values”.

The scandal reflected poorly on the bank and two top figures, Dame Alison Rose – chief executive of the NatWest Group, which owns Coutts – and Peter Flavel, the Coutts chief executive, were forced to resign.

Negotiations are said to now be taking place between Farage and Coutts, with both parties accompanied by lawyers.

Farage said he is seeking an apology and compensation from the lender given it has apparently said he can keep his accounts. He also wants others involved in shutting his facilities to resign.

The NatWest Group chairman Sir Howards Davies has said he will not quit and instead appointed a law firm to conduct an independent inquiry.

Farage has criticised the investigation as “an absolute joke.” He emphasised remarks made by Chris Hale, the chair emeritus of legal firm Travers Smith that NatWest has appointed, who referred to Farage’s Brexit campaign as “racist, xenophobic, and nostalgic”.

Farage further asserted that there is “no chance” of a fair assessment or review taking place.

He is also demanding compensation, saying: “It has taken up a huge amount of my time, and it has cost me, so far, quite a lot of money in legal fees, so I have … sent a legal litigation letter to Coutts.”

Since the Coutts incident, Farage has become something of a crusader against so-called “de-banking”, or the mass shutting of accounts. He started http://AccountClosed.org, a “dedicated campaign” group committed to “advocating for consumer rights”. It strives for “fairness and transparency within the banking and financial services sector”.

De-banking seems to be a major issue in the UK, as lenders are closing more than 1,000 accounts every working day, according to new data from the Financial Conduct Authority.

When individuals or entities have their bank accounts closed, they frequently receive minimal or no explanation regarding the reasons, although lenders occasionally attribute it to concerns related to financial crime, such as money-laundering and fraud.

Farage said political motives also play a role and that in general those who have their accounts shut have little option to challenge a lender’s decision.

“Most of these people aren’t in my position, they haven’t got the platform, they haven’t got the opportunity to fight back,” Farage said.

The row between Farage and the banks prompted the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to state: “It wouldn’t be right if financial services were being denied to anyone exercising their right to lawful free speech.”