Both freedom of expression and access to banking are fundamental to our society. It is not our policy to exit a customer on the basis of legally held political and personal views. Decisions to close an account are not taken lightly and involve a number of factors including commercial viability, reputational considerations, and legal and regulatory requirements.
I fully understand the public concern that the processes for bank account closure are not sufficiently transparent. Customers have a right to expect their bank to make consistent decisions against publicly available criteria. Those decisions should also be communicated clearly and openly with them, within the constraints imposed by the law.
To achieve this, wider change is required. But the experience of clients highlighted in recent days has shown we need act now to put our processes under scrutiny.
The deeply inappropriate comments made in the now published papers prepared for the Wealth Reputation Risk Committee, do not reflect the view of the bank. No individual should have to read such comments and I apologise to Mr Farage for this. I have written to him today to make that apology and reiterate our offer of alternative banking arrangements.
In addition, I am commissioning a full review of the Coutts processes for how these decisions are made and communicated to ensure we provide a better, more transparent experience for all our customers in the future.
The review will be reporting to me as NatWest Group CEO.
As previously stated, I welcome the FCA’s reviews of regulatory rules associated with Politically Exposed Persons, and we will implement the recommendations of our review alongside any changes that they or the Government makes to the overall regulatory framework.