British NatWest CEO Resign After Nigel Farage Account Saga Turns Into Massive Scandal

NatWest CEO Alison Rose resigned on July 26, 2023, after a debanking scandal involving Nigel Farage, the renowned former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). 

NatWest is one of the largest banks in the UK. Rose gained major attention after becoming the first woman to head up a major British bank.

The scandal started when Farage revealed that his account at Coutts, a private bank under NatWest’s control, had been shut down due to his political beliefs.

The bank later found itself in a public relations fiasco with the bank blatantly  lying to the BBC over what occurred. However, internal Coutts documents revealed that the reason why Farage’s account was closed was due to his retweeting of a Ricky Gervais joke and his friendship with tennis star Novak Djokovic. Coutts’ upper management pointed to these actions as evidence that Farage was being “xenophobic and racist.”

Since then, the bank sent multiple apologies to Farage, these included apologies from the BBC and from Rose, who admitted on July 25  that she had sent sensitive information to the BBC about Farage’s account. The BBC then reported that Farage “no longer met the financial requirements for Coutts,” when in reality it was his political views that got him debanked.

Rose’s apology and promise to look over the bank’s policies were not enough to allay concerns about Rose’s leadership.  The British government, which owns a 39% stake in the bank, was “significantly concerned” about Rose’s stewardship of the company, which ultimately led to her exit from the company. The board and Rose agreed “by mutual consent” that she resign from her position, per a statement released by Howard Davies, the bank’s chairman.

“It is a sad moment,” declared Davies, noting that “She has dedicated all her working life so far to NatWest and will leave many colleagues who respect and admire her.”

Rose was appointed CEO back in 2019, during a time when the bank was going through significant reforms.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak commented in light of this incident: “It’s not right for anyone to be denied financial services because they’re exercising their lawful right to free speech.”

The following day, the Treasury announced new regulations concerning the closure of accounts.

On July26, Member of Parliament Andrew Griffith, held a meeting with the heads of Britain’s six biggest lenders “to discuss the importance of protecting lawful freedom of expression for customers,” per the Treasury. The meeting participants conceded that recent events had sullied banks’ reputations among the public .

“It is right that the NatWest C.E.O. has resigned,” declared Griffith, continuing “This would never have happened if NatWest had not taken it upon itself to withdraw a bank account due to someone’s lawful political views. That was and is always unacceptable.”

It’s good to see some degree of corporate accountability take place when it comes to corporations who abuse their power by disassociating with right-wing clientele. 

Attacks on free speech by both the government and private sector should be equally condemned. The private sector should never be let off the hook for its anti-freedom behavior.

Private actors who violate the freedoms of right-wingers should face the full force of state power. That will get them in line.

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