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LONDON — He always said the British establishment was out to get him. Now Nigel Farage has the receipts.
Britain’s most high-profile Brexiteer has produced a 12,000-word document from Coutts Bank which Farage claims reveals the truth behind the forced closure of his account there.
The former Brexit Party leader has been embroiled in the institution – so esteemed that it has served successive generations of the Royal Family – after Coutts canceled his account earlier this month. Farage said at the time that no reason was given – but subsequent media reports, including the BBC, cited a minimum wealth threshold that Farage no longer met.
Now an internal Coutts document, obtained by Farage through a subject access request he made to the bank and published in full by the Daily Mail newspaper, shows he wanted to drop him as client long before – and used his controversial public profile as justification.
A briefing presented to the bank’s ‘reputational risk committee’ said Farage is seen by many as a ‘dishonest crook’ with ‘xenophobic, chauvinistic and racist views’ and suggests he could dump him once he will have paid off his mortgage and will have fallen below his wealth. criteria.
The document cites his comments on Brexit, his friendship with former US President Donald Trump and controversial tennis star Novak Djokovic. He reports his views on the COVID vaccine and unproven links to Russia.
“The committee did not believe that continuing to bank NF was consistent with Coutts given his publicly stated views that were at odds with our position as an inclusive organization,” the report said. “It was not a political decision, but centered on inclusivity and purpose.”
In a section titled “key risks”, the Coutts committee states “there is a lot of unfavorable press regarding NF” and states that Farage is “very high profile and actively courts controversy”.
Referring to his support for Trump and his defense of the sexual harassment allegations against the ex-president, the document says his comments “are unpleasant and seem increasingly out of touch with mainstream society.”
Farage said Coutts had previously told him he was not treated as a “politically exposed person” – a banking term for clients deemed at risk because of their political importance.
The filing says Farage had already been demoted to low risk and could lose that designation entirely “as he is no longer associated with any political party.”
In a statement to The Telegraph, Coutts said its ability to respond is limited by “customer confidentiality obligations” and that decisions to close accounts “take into account a number of factors including commercial viability, reputational considerations and legal and regulatory requirements”.
To defend oneself
The case has already sparked a backlash in the UK, with ministers demanding answers and warning of serious free speech ramifications.
Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – no ideological companion to Farage – tweeted on Wednesday afternoon: “This is wrong. No one should be prevented from using basic services for their political views. Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of our democracy.”
City Minister Andrew Griffith said in a statement on Wednesday that “it would be of grave concern if financial services were denied to anyone exercising their right to lawful free speech.”
“Businesses have the right to protect themselves against real risks to their reputation – for example, from criminal activity – but the privilege of a banking license in a democracy should entail the duty not to ‘unbank’ just because you don’t don’t agree with someone’s opinions,” he added.
The row over his account being shut down by a top bank offers Farage – now a host on the right-wing GB News channel – another chance to blast political correctness and perceived censorship of right-wing views.
Attacks on ‘woke capitalism’ are not limited to the former Brexit Party leader and feature prominently in right-wing populist politics in the United States, where Republicans are waging war on Wall Street’s efforts to fight back. against climate change and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is publicly feuding with Disney.
“The Coutts scandal reveals the sinister nature of much of the diversity, equity and inclusion industry,” tweeted UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who is considered to be on the right of the mainstream. conservatives in power.
The dispute also raises wider questions about whether it’s just a one-man fight with his bank – or a wider issue of banks dropping uncomfortable customers.
Global dirty money rules force lenders to undertake more detailed checks on risky customers, in their role as gatekeepers to the financial system.
These checks cost money and make some customers – including diamond traders, refugees and diplomats – less attractive to banks.
But such controls are also in place for a reason. The Qatargate corruption scandal in Brussels – which literally featured bags of money recovered by police – shows how some politicians may deserve closer scrutiny.