NatWest showed ‘serious failings’ in Nigel Farage account closure, probe finds

An independent investigation found that NatWest's decision to shut down Nigel Farage's Coutts account showed "serious failings," ITV News' Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe

NatWest Group’s decision to shut down Nigel Farage’s Coutts account showed “serious failings” in its treatment of the politician, an independent probe has found.

Law firm Travers Smith was appointed to conduct a review in the wake of the debanking saga, which culminated in the resignation of chief executive Dame Alison Rose.

The investigation found failures in how it treated confidential information and how it communicated with Mr Farage.

Dame Alison made an “honest mistake” in disclosing details of the former Ukip leader’s bank account to a BBC journalist, the report read.

“She honestly, but incorrectly, believed that the client had publicly confirmed that he was a customer of Coutts.”

But the decision to shut down Mr Farage’s bank account was lawful, and predominately commercial, it reported.

“Coutts considered its relationship with Mr Farage to be commercially unviable because it was significantly loss-making,” it said.

Dame Alison Rose. Credit: PA

Mr Farage said earlier this year that Coutts had moved to shut down his account because his political beliefs did not align with the bank.

NatWest’s chairman Sir Howard Davies said: “This report sets out a number of serious failings in the treatment of Mr Farage.

“Although Travers Smith confirm the lawful basis for the exit decision, the findings set out clear shortcomings in how it was reached as well as failures in how we communicated with him and in relation to client confidentiality.

“We apologise once again to Mr Farage for how he has been treated.

“His experience fell short of the standards that any customer should expect.”

The report is the first stage of the probe which was commissioned by the NatWest board in July.

The City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said the report “has highlighted potential regulatory breaches and a number of areas for improvement”.

Dame Alison Rose’s spokesman has been contacted for comment.

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