The Chancellor Expresses Concerns Over NatWest CEO’s Handling of Nigel Farage’s Termination as Coutts Customer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, has voiced “significant concerns” regarding the conduct of Dame Alison Rose, the Chief Executive Officer of NatWest, in relation to the fallout from Nigel Farage’s dismissal as a customer of Coutts, a private bank owned by NatWest. Downing Street has also questioned Dame Alison’s actions in discussing Farage’s banking arrangements with BBC journalist Simon Jack.
Despite making what the bank referred to as a “regrettable error of judgment,” Dame Alison received a vote of confidence from the NatWest board. However, her position may become untenable given the expressed concern of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Chancellor, who effectively control the taxpayer’s 39% stake in the bank.
Treasury Secretary Andrew Griffith is set to meet with 19 banks and building societies, including NatWest, to emphasize that customers should not be denied access to financial services based on political grounds. This additional pressure adds to the already acute scrutiny Dame Alison faces.
Dame Alison’s Apology and Admission of Error
Dame Alison publicly apologized to Nigel Farage for discussing his affairs with Simon Jack at a charity dinner. She admitted that her conversation with the BBC journalist was a “significant error of judgment.” The day after the conversation, Jack reported that Farage’s account had been closed due to not meeting the bank’s wealth threshold.
Following the report, Farage released a 40-page dossier compiled by Coutts, which cited his political views as a factor in the decision to terminate his account. The dossier described him as a “disingenuous grifter” and highlighted his perceived “xenophobic and racist” views, which contradicted the bank’s values.
Dame Alison claimed that her conversation with Jack gave the impression that the closure was solely a commercial decision. She stated that she did not disclose Farage’s personal financial details to the journalist and only answered a general question about the bank’s eligibility criteria. She also asserted that she was unaware of the Coutts dossier at the time of the conversation and had been informed in April that Farage’s account was closed for commercial reasons.
Future Challenges for Dame Alison
Dame Alison’s position as CEO of NatWest may face further challenges in the coming days. On Friday, she is scheduled to present NatWest’s financial results, which will serve as a crucial test of investor confidence. The outcome of this announcement could have a significant impact on her future at the bank.
NatWest’s reputation is also at stake, as the controversy surrounding Farage’s termination as a customer raises questions about the bank’s commitment to impartiality and fair treatment of clients. The meeting between Treasury Secretary Andrew Griffith and various banks and building societies, including NatWest, will further emphasize the importance of providing financial services without political bias.
As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen whether Dame Alison will be able to retain her position as CEO of NatWest or if her actions will ultimately lead to her departure.