Thursday, October 5, 2023
HomeEconomyUK banks should not close accounts over client politics, minister says

UK banks should not close accounts over client politics, minister says

Hugh Jones and David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) – British banks should serve customers even if they disagree with their legitimate political views and should act Andrew Griffith, the anti-monetary policy financial services secretary, said on Tuesday he was laundering checks on a proportional basis.

Earlier on Tuesday, former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he had been told by British private bank Coutts that it would close his account and offered to close his account.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee asked Griffiths for his opinion on the recent issue of banking politicians and other “politically exposed figures”, the firm did not name Farage directly.

“If executives within organizations see themselves as ‘appropriate,’ they will not seek to suppress legitimate expressions of democratic views,” Griffiths said, referring to bank executives Standards of conduct that must be met.

“As far as legitimate free speech is concerned, it is not right and unacceptable for anyone to be stripped of a bank account on these grounds,” he added

PEP regime is part of global anti-money laundering rules that require banks to conduct checks on individuals with prominent political functions.

Griffith said the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) now had the power to review the rules under new financial services laws approved last week.

“The Chancellor and I have asked the FCA to do this, to review the application of these rules. When you place a duty of care on individual institutions, unintended consequences can always happen. Sometimes this can go too far ,” Griffith said.

The rules should be applied proportionally, not in a blanket manner, he added.

“The second thing we ask is that the FCA consider creating a domestic politically exposed person (category) to reflect a lower category of risk associated with those who are solely in domestic affairs,” Griffith said.



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