The UK government is reportedly announcing measures that could see banks lose their licenses if they choose to cancel customers’ bank accounts because of their political views.
A July 20 report in The Times said the UK government is considering stricter conditions for banking licenses that would protect freedom of expression. A final decision has not yet been made, but the UK Treasury is expected to announce new rules next week.
The new provisions will reportedly force banks to give three months’ notice to customers before closing their accounts. In addition, banks will have to give clear reasons for closure of accounts and customers will have the right to appeal.
The move comes in the wake of a dispute between politically conservative former politician Nigel Farage and British private bank Coutts – whose clients are members of the British royal family.
Coutts closed Faraj’s bank accounts earlier this month, saying he had fallen below the limit, but leaked documents later revealed that this was because his conservative views “were not in line with”. [their] Value.”
Documents obtained by Faraz and shared by the Daily Mail include detailed accounts of Coutts’ meetings regarding their accounts.
At the meeting, Coutts executives called Faraz an “unscrupulous fraudster” and cited the “reputational risk” associated with his political views as reasons for shutting down his accounts.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said this was “wrong”. He added: “No one should be excluded from using basic services for their political views. Free expression is the cornerstone of our democracy.
This is wrong.
No one should be excluded from using basic services for their political views.
Free speech is a cornerstone of our democracy. https://t.co/8S8Rzyh9Si
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) 19 July 2023
Similarly, Interior Secretary Suella Braverman accused Coates of being a victim of “politically partisan dogma”.
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Alison Rose, CEO of Coutts’ parent company, NatWest Group, has apologized for the “grossly inappropriate” comments made about Faraj at the meeting and has agreed to reopen his account.
“It is absolutely not our policy to turn away a customer based on legitimate political and personal views,” the apology letter read.
Faraj, a former leader of the populist political parties Reform UK and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), is a vocal supporter of cryptocurrencies. On December 3, 2020, Faraz praised bitcoin (BTC) as the “ultimate anti-lockdown investment” and ridiculed the British pound as the government’s “funny money”.
Faraj appeared at the 2022 Bitcoin Amsterdam conference. In an interview with Cointelegraph, he praised bitcoin’s anti-inflationary properties and its immutability compared to traditional banking infrastructure.
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