UK's banking chief apologizes to Nigel Farage after bank apparently boots account over political beliefs

A UK banking chief has apologized to populist politician Nigel Farage after his account with the prestigious bank Coutts was closed because of his political beliefs.

UK's banking chief apologizes to Nigel Farage after bank apparently boots account over political beliefs

U.K. banking chief Dame Alison Rose on Thursday apologized to Nigel Farage after the former Brexit leader accused Coutts of closing his bank account over his political beliefs. 

Farage took to Twitter on Tuesday, reading from a 40-page internal memo he had obtained from the bank. The documents, he alleged, showed internal correspondence between bank officials who said retaining him as a customer would be incompatible with the bank’s position as an "inclusive organization."

Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest Group, which owns Coutts, wrote to Farage to apologize for "deeply inappropriate comments" made about him in the documents and said the bank has offered him alternative banking arrangements.

"It is not our policy to exit a customer on the basis of legally held political and personal views," she said in a statement. "I fully understand the public concern that the processes for bank account closure are not sufficiently transparent ... the experience of clients highlighted in recent days has shown we need to act now to put our processes under scrutiny."

Her statement came after Britain's Treasury announced Thursday that U.K. banks will be subject to stricter rules over closing customers' accounts under changes designed to protect freedom of expression. 

Banks will have to explain why they are shutting down someone's account under the new rules and give 90 days' notice for such account closures. They previously have not had to provide a rationale for doing so.

The changes are intended to boost transparency for customers, but will not take away a banking firm's right to close accounts of people deemed to be a reputational or political risk.

Farage responded to Rose's apology during a Thursday-night broadcast of his program on GB News. 

"Well, of course in life, it's always good to get an apology. So thank you, Dame Alison Rose for apologizing. But I can't help feeling that the Treasury statement that preceded what you put out and what I've actually been told, quietly privately, is that you were forced into doing this by the Treasury. But at least you've done it, I suppose," Farage said. "But the whole letter smacks of ‘not me gov!’" 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.