Falling Below Coutts’ Financial Threshold
Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party, had his bank account at Coutts closed after falling below the financial threshold required by the prestigious private bank. The bank, which caters to wealthy clients, has specific criteria that customers must meet to maintain an account.
Commercial Decisions or Political Motives
While Nigel Farage claims that his account closure is politically motivated, individuals familiar with Coutts’ decision assert that it was a “commercial” move. The bank’s requirements for holding an account, outlined on their website, stipulate a minimum borrowing or investment of £1 million or savings of £3 million.
Farage’s Response and Account Closure
Farage acknowledges that he did not meet Coutts’ threshold but argues that his account was not an issue for the past decade. He asserts that Coutts did not provide him with a minimum threshold and questions the timing of the account closure despite having significant cash balances going through it.
Impact on Farage’s Future
The closure of his bank account has significant implications for Farage’s future. He compares losing his account to being a “non-person” and expresses concerns about the effect on his career and ability to reside in the country. Farage believes he is facing “serious political persecution” from the anti-Brexit banking industry.
NatWest’s Offer and Disputes
NatWest, which owns Coutts, reportedly offered Farage a standard account following the closure of his Coutts accounts. However, Farage disputes this claim and argues that the offer came only after he made his story public. He asserts that he needs a business account rather than a personal one, as his income flows through his business.
Denial from Other Banks
Farage alleges that other banks have refused to accept him as a customer, citing his status as a “politically exposed person” (PEP). He questions the discrepancy between banks’ explanations, suggesting that Coutts did not use the PEP justification.
The Treasury has expressed concerns about the denial of financial services based on lawful free speech and is investigating the matter.