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Nigel Farage’s bank accounts were closed ‘because of a lack of money, not Brexit’

Brexiteer sparked free speech row after claiming accounts were shuttered by Coutts in revenge for Brexit

Archie Mitchell
Wednesday 05 July 2023 05:10 BST
Farage claims he's being 'pushed out of UK' as people are 'trying to close his bank accounts'

Nigel Farage’s bank accounts were closed because they did not contain enough money, not because of his political views, it has been claimed.

The former Brexit Party and Ukip leader sparked a free speech row after claiming his accounts were shuttered by upmarket lender Coutts in revenge for Brexit.

Mr Farage said he has since been rejected from several other banks, and claimed he was a victim of “the big corporate structures who did not want Brexit to happen”.

The extraordinary row saw the prime minister wade in, confirming there was “concern” at the top of government and ordering a Treasury probe into whether banks were being overzealous in closing certain accounts.

But sources at the bank said Mr Farage’s accounts were closed because he fell below the financial threshold Coutts requires.

They told the BBC he was even offered a regular account at NatWest – which owns Coutts – which Mr Farage confirmed to The Independent.

Coutts requires clients to maintain at least £1m in investments or borrowing, or hold £3m in savings, to be eligible for an account, the BBC reported.

Mr Farage, who says he has been with the bank since 1980, suggested another reason his accounts may have been cancelled was his status as a so-called politically exposed person (PEP), which carries extra costs for banks.

But sources familiar with the bank’s thinking told the BBC this was not the reason his accounts were closed and that it was a “commercial” move.

The bank, which acts on behalf of the royal family, said it can not comment on individual clients.

Mr Farage said he maintained a ‘healthy cash balance’ with Coutts (AFP/Getty)

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Farage said there is “a lot of spin” coming out of Coutts. He disputed that he was offered a NatWest account at the time his Coutts accounts were withdrawn and says the offer only came late last week.

He said: “Number one, the idea was that I was offered a bank account, that was not until 6.55pm on Thursday evening after they steadfastly refused to offer me any banking facilities within the group.

“The NatWest account was only offered after I had blown the gaff on the fact that nobody in the UK banking industry would have me.”

He added: “I still have not had any offers from them on business banking. The point is, nine other banks have said no. Coutts denied I was PEP status when the fact is every other bank said I was and I am beginning to get subject access requests back from international agencies confirming that.”

Mr Farage said he maintained a “healthy cash balance” with Coutts, and he had “no idea” about the bank’s thresholds for clients.

In a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Mr Farage confirmed Coutts was the bank he had complained about. He did not deny that he had failed to meet the financial threshold to keep an account with the bank, but said “they have never mentioned that before”.

The latest developments came after No 10 said on Monday that the Treasury was consulting on whether the current framework for banks “strikes the right balance between the rights of a bank customer to express themselves freely and the right of a bank to manage commercial risks”.

Rishi Sunak said banks should not be allowed to close customers’ accounts because of their views. Responding to the Farage row, the PM told broadcasters that the right to free speech had to be respected “and that should not be an excuse to close anyone’s account”.

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer said earlier on Monday that she was “concerned that people’s bank accounts might be closed for the wrong reasons” – warning that financial institutions should tread “very carefully” when it comes to people’s political views.

Mr Farage revealed last week that a major banking group he had been with for 43 years had phoned him two months previously, apparently to say: “We are closing your accounts.”

He alleged that it amounted to “serious political persecution”, claiming that British banks are “part of the big corporate structures who did not want Brexit to happen”.

Meanwhile, Church of England vicar Rev Richard Fothergill told The Times that his own bank account with the Yorkshire Building Society had been closed after he complained about its support for what he has termed the “transsexual agenda” during Pride month. He accused the company of “bullying” him.

A Yorkshire Building Society spokesperson said the company did not close accounts for particular views but only if a customer is “rude, abusive, violent or discriminates in any way”.

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