Madrid, July 24. (European Press) –
The British government will call a meeting with the heads of the UK's main banking entities to find out how the sector will address customer bankruptcies as a result of exercising freedom of expression, following Nigel Farage, the former leader of the Labor Party. UK Independence Party (UKIP) has accused NatWest's private bank, Coutts, of closing its accounts due to its political views.
In a letter to be sent on Monday to 19 financial services entities and businesses, including traditional banks and fintechs, Treasury and Financial Services Secretary Andrew Griffiths expressed concerns raised in the Houses of Parliament due to recent claims about the “de-banking of consumers” that the measures taken will be taken. The government takes all necessary measures to protect the right to freedom of expression, according to the BBC.
The Minister will also indicate his intention to hold discussions on the matter with those responsible for the authorities “at the first opportunity.”
Last week, the UK Treasury introduced a range of measures to prevent the “unfair” closure of bank accounts in order to strengthen the tools available to customers who deem it necessary to oppose the entities’ decision.
The Treasury explained that “the government has intervened to address concerns about banks closing their accounts because they do not agree with someone’s political views,” which will force entities to explain and delay any account closures, thus protecting freedom of expression.
The changes will therefore increase the notice period from 30 to 90 days, giving customers more time to appeal the decision through the Financial Ombudsman Service or find an alternative bank.
Banks will also be required to explain why they are terminating the bank account, which will increase transparency for customers and assist them in their efforts to overturn the decisions.
Andrew Griffiths, who believes that banks occupy a privileged position in society, and that it is fair to balance the rights of entities to act in their commercial interests, defended that “freedom of expression is one of the pillars of our democracy and must be respected by all institutions.” With everyone's right to express themselves freely.
The Treasury Department's proposed changes follow an investigation that began in January, following the temporary suspension of several accounts by PayPal last year, which identified a need for changes to ensure the right balance between customer protection and suppliers' rights to manage. Business risks.
It also coincides with the scandal that opened after Nigel Farage's complaint that Coutts Private Bank, a subsidiary of NatWest, the name of the former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), had closed its accounts in the entity due to its ideological positions and opinions. In various cases, and not for purely financial reasons as mentioned at the beginning.
Following Farage's request for documents in this regard, which were published by the British media, the entity would have considered that keeping Farage as a client of the bank was inconsistent with Coutts' “position as an umbrella organisation” given his “publicly stated views” with the auditor. For comments about trans women, Black Lives Matter protesters, or his friendship with tennis player Novak Djokovic, who opposes Covid vaccines.
Last week, NatWest chief executive Alison Rose was forced to apologize to Nigel Farage for “grossly inappropriate” comments made about him in a document regarding his suitability as a client of Coutts.
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