UK Finance, the trade association for the UK banking and financial services sector, has responded to the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) report on account access and closure. In a statement, UK Finance emphasized the importance of freedom of expression and clarified that accounts are not being closed due to political beliefs or other lawful views. The association stated that account closures or application rejections are primarily driven by concerns related to financial crime, as the industry is committed to tackling this issue.
UK Finance also highlighted that account closures only occur after thorough reviews and fair treatment of customers. Moreover, the government has announced plans to introduce an increased notice period and provide more information regarding account closures. UK Finance expressed its support for these changes and stated that it is collaborating with the government and regulatory bodies to implement them.
The FCA recently published its initial report on potential discrimination in UK banks. This report addresses the case of Nigel Farage, a prominent political figure and former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), who had his account closed at Coutts due to diverging values with the bank’s management. However, the FCA has found limited evidence to suggest that other account closures are based on legal political beliefs.
Commenting on the report, Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the FCA, stated that further analysis and engagement with industry stakeholders will be required to fully understand the issue. The FCA intends to continue its investigation into potential discrimination and ensure that banks are treating customers fairly and in compliance with regulatory requirements.
Overall, UK Finance’s response underscores the sector’s commitment to addressing financial crime concerns and implementing fair processes for account access and closure. The FCA’s report serves as an initial step in exploring potential discrimination issues at UK banks, with the regulator pledging to delve deeper into the matter in collaboration with industry stakeholders.
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