Photo: Jean Francois Badias. Farage celebrates the success of the Brexit referendum.

By Editor-July 4th, 2023.

Nigel Farage, the British former politician-turned-broadcaster considered mainly responsible for Brexit, recently posted a six-minute video on Twitter blaming “serious political persecution” from an anti-Brexit banking industry. He claimed that his bank, believed to be Coutts, thad closed his accounts “for no reason”.

This caused a furore in Britain, with many people worrying they might lose their bank accounts for no reason.

Mr Farage said that closing his account was a  “serious political persecution” from an anti-Brexit banking industry.

He said that losing his bank account was the equivalent of being a “non-person” and that the decision may “fundamentally affect my future career and whether I can even go on staying living here in this country”.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s World at One on Tuesday, he said he had received a letter from Coutts giving “no reason whatsoever” for why they were shutting his accounts, and telling him he had two months to do it.

Now it appears that his bank, Coutts, a prestigious private bank for  wealthy customers is hitting back.

Farage simply didn’t have enough money to make it worthwhile for the bank to maintain his account, and he  fell below the minimum financial threshold required to hold an account at Coutts, the prestigious private bank for the wealthy, according to a BBC source.

It is understood that he was subsequently offered a standard account at NatWest which owns Coutts.

Mr Farage says he believes his account is being shut for political reasons and he has been turned down by nine other banks after trying to open accounts elsewhere.

But people familiar with Coutts’ move said it was a “commercial” decision.

Coutts requires its customers to borrow or invest at least £1m with the bank or hold £3m in savings.

Speaking to the BBC from France, Mr Farage did not dispute the fact that he did not meet Coutts’ threshold, but added: “They didn’t have a problem with it for the last 10 years.”

The former leader of the UK Independence Party and Brexiteer also said that his business account was being closed despite the fact that last year he had “large significant positive cash balances” going through his business account.

Coutts said it did not comment on individuals’ accounts.

Mr Farage recently posted a six-minute video on Twitter blaming “serious political persecution” from an anti-Brexit banking industry.

He said that losing his bank account was the equivalent of being a “non-person” and that the decision may “fundamentally affect my future career and whether I can even go on staying living here in this country”.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s World at One on Tuesday, he said he had received a letter from Coutts giving “no reason whatsoever” for why they were shutting his accounts, and telling him he had two months to do it.

Mr Farage also disputed the fact that he was offered a NatWest account at the time his Coutts accounts were withdrawn. He says the offer of a NatWest account came late last week.

The former politician said the bank only did his when he “went public” with his story, and that it only offered him a personal account, not a business account.

“Well what use to me is that?” he told the BBC. “I operate through a business, that’s how I live. Any income that comes to me personally comes through my business.”

The BBC understands that the offer of a NatWest account still stands.

Mr Farage claims other banks have refused to take him on as a customer on the grounds that he is a “politically exposed person” (PEP).

Sources close to Mr Farage, 59, also believe MI5 may have intervened after Labour MP Chris Bryant wrongly alleged in the House of Commons that he received more than half a million pounds from pro-Kremlin broadcaster Russia Today in 2018. The claim has been categorically denied by Mr Farage.

Friends of Mr Farage also believe he may also have been targeted because of his friendship with former President Donald Trump.

A PEP generally presents a higher risk for financial institutions as regulators consider such people to be more exposed to the risk of potential involvement in bribery and corruption by virtue of their position and the influence they may hold.

Mr Farage told the BBC: “Are you telling me that all the other banks say it was a PEP thing and Coutts wasn’t – draw your own conclusions.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “It would be a serious concern if financial services were being denied to those exercising the right to lawful free speech.

“We are already looking into this issue and have passed a law that requires the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to review how banks treat politically exposed persons – so we can strike the right balance between the customer’s right to free speech and the bank’s right to manage commercial risk.”

Sources: BBC, Daily Mail.