Of BANKS and POLITICS: U.K. Energy Secretary Grant Shapps calls out banks for delving into politics, urges new legislation to prevent this
07/31/2023 // Belle Carter // Views

The Brexit Party leader and former leader of the U.K. Independence Party Nigel Farage recently revealed that he has seen a Stasi-style surveillance report justifying why Coutts's "debanked" him once his mortgage expired, was not due to reasons relating to his financial status.

In fact, he divulged that his account was closed because of his friendship with former President Donald J. Trump. His appearing on Alex Jones's InfoWars and expressing critical comments about Black Lives Matter also contributed to the bank's decision. The 59-year-old also disclosed that the 40-page dossier also bemoaned his stance on issues of equality, social and corporate governance, saying his views "do not align with Coutts values." (Related: DEBANKING: Brexit leader warns CBCDs will bring tyranny after his longtime bank closed his account.)

This did not sit well with top-tier British government officials, including Grant Shapps MP, the U.K. Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, who has clashed bitterly with Farage before. He suggested on Wednesday that new legislation may need to be introduced to combat banks acting above their station and delving into politics. "I think it is absolutely disgraceful. I don't have to agree with everything Nigel Farage says to recognize that free speech is a very important part of our domestic life," he said. "What has happened with some of these banks through this regime, which is known as politically exposed people (PEP), is really actually scandalous."

Banks should also not be refusing to open accounts on that basis as Farage also had difficulties opening bank accounts after what happened with Coutts. Members of his family have also been refused accounts by other banks, and one family member was told their account was being closed.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Griffith expressed concern that financial services are being denied to anyone exercising their right to lawful free speech. "Businesses have the right to protect against reputational risks – e.g. criminal activity – but the privilege of a banking license in a democracy should imply a duty not to 'de-bank' because you disagree with someone's views," he said.

Meanwhile, the conservative broadcaster appealed: "Contrary to the damaging briefings made to the BBC and the Financial Times this month about my holdings falling below the bank's threshold, the report states several times that my economic contribution is sound, and my funds are sufficient to retain on a commercial basis." He added that the report even acknowledged that he was a positive net financial contributor to the bank. "BBC needs to correct this immediately and Coutts need to explain themselves even sooner," Anthony Mangnall, Tory MO for Totnes and South Devon, agreed.

Farage was surveilled for months

Writing for the Telegraph, Farage also disclosed that monthly press checks were made on him as per the report he acquired via a subject access request. "My social media accounts were monitored. Anything considered 'problematic' was recorded. I was being watched,” he wrote. "This report is proof that any Coutts customer who holds even vaguely conservative views should be treated with disdain."

He also detailed that the piece included his friendship with Djokovic, who was publicly shunned after refusing to take the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, and his retweeting of a Ricky Gervais joke about leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), a position it should be noted that has been advocated by Home Secretary Suella Braverman on multiple occasions, albeit not as official government policy.

"The most extraordinary comments of all are the areas of the report talking about me 'not aligning with their views' and suggesting I must be barred because I do not support the diversity, policies and 'purpose' of Coutts, as though Britain is a political regime and I am a dissident," he added.

He further warned all Coutts customers: “You could be next. Refinitiv, which monitors creditworthiness, can examine social media posts made by any of us on Facebook or elsewhere. If this situation is left unchecked, we will sleepwalk towards a China-style social credit system in which only those with the ‘correct’ views are allowed to fully participate in society.

Good thing, he said, that in the 21st century, via fintech companies, there are other ways to receive and make payments. "It's still not a bank account, but I will survive," Farage expressed, looking at the brighter side.

Meanwhile, reports said that NatWest Group boss Dame Alison Rose has already apologized via a letter to Farage for the "deeply inappropriate" comments made about him in a document on his suitability as a Coutts customer. She also allegedly offered alternative banking arrangements and said she wanted to ensure they provide "a better, more transparent experience for all our customers in the future."

"I think what needs to happen is the Treasury select committee needs to reconvene, come out of recess, and let's give her the opportunity to tell us the truth," Farage told reporters when asked about the apology. He'd like to know her answers if "she breached his client confidentiality or broke GDPR rules."

Risk.news has more stories on collapsing banking systems and policies.

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