There is no firm evidence of banks denying people access to accounts over the last year due to their political views, a review by the regulator has found.
In what it called “preliminary insights”, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said data submitted to it by banks and others “suggests that no firm closed an account between July 2022 and June 2023 primarily because of a customer’s political views”.
The inquiry was launched in August after Coutts Bank decided to end its relationship with former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
Mr Farage claimed the account was being shut down due to his political opinions. However, his case is not believed to be covered by the FCA’s probe as the account was not actually closed.
An internal document compiled by Coutts showed that, when deciding to close his account, it took into consideration the fact that Mr Farage’s mortgage would shortly be paid off and also discussed potential “reputational risk to the bank”.
In the wake of the decision, Coutts boss Peter Flavel and Alison Rose, chief executive of parent company NatWest Group, both left their posts.
Speaking before the report was released, Mr Farage called it “a total whitewash”, adding: “It’s a joke.”
He accused the FCA of being “overtly political” and called for an overhaul at the top of the regulator.
Needless to say, sympathy was in short supply on social media: