Nigel Farage bank account shut for falling below wealth limit

3 min read
Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage fell below the financial threshold required to hold an account at Coutts, the prestigious private bank for the wealthy, the BBC has been told.

It is understood that he was afterward offered a standard account at NatWest which owns Coutts.

Mr Farage says he believes his account is being shut down for political reasons and he has been turned down by nine other lenders after trying elsewhere.

But people familiar with Coutts’ move said it was a “commercial” decision.

“The criteria for holding a Coutts account are clear from the bank’s website,” they told the BBC.

Coutts requires its customers to borrow or invest at least £1m with the bank or hold £3m in savings.

Speaking to the BBC from France, Mr Farage did not dispute the fact that he did not meet Coutts’ threshold, but added: “They didn’t have a problem with it for the last 10 years.”

The former leader of the UK Independence Party and Brexiteer also said that his business account was being closed despite the fact that last year he had “large significant positive cash balances” going through his business account.

Coutts said it did not comment on individuals’ accounts.

Mr Farage recently posted a six-minute video on Twitter blaming “serious political persecution” from an anti-Brexit banking industry.

He said that losing his bank account was the equivalent of being a “non-person” and that the decision may “fundamentally affect my future career and whether I can even go on staying living here in this country”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s the World at One on Tuesday, Mr Farage said that Coutts had given him “no reason whatsoever” when they wrote to say that his accounts would be closed, and he was given two months to find a new bank.

Mr Farage also disputed the fact that he was offered a NatWest account at the time his Coutts accounts were withdrawn. He says the offer of a NatWest account came late last week.

The former politician said the bank only did it when he “went public” with his story, and that it only offered him a personal account, not a business account.

“Well what use to me is that?” he told the BBC. “I operate through a business, that’s how I live. Any income that comes to me personally comes through my business.”

The BBC understands that the offer of a NatWest account still stands.

Mr Farage claims other banks have refused to take him on as a customer on the grounds that he is a “politically exposed person” (PEP).

A PEP generally presents a higher risk for financial institutions as regulators consider such people to be more exposed to the risk of potential involvement in bribery and corruption by virtue of their position and the influence they may hold.

Mr Farage told the BBC: “Are you telling me that all the other banks said it was a PEP thing and Coutts wasn’t – draw your own conclusions.”

A Treasury spokesman said it would be a “serious concern” if financial services were being denied to those exercising their right to lawful free speech.

“We are already looking into this issue and have passed a law that requires the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to review how banks treat politically exposed persons – so we can strike the right balance between the customer’s right to free speech and the bank’s right to manage commercial risk.”

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