A US financial giant and two British banks are reportedly being investigated over accusations that they debanked clients because of their political views.
The banking arm of American Express, as well as Metro Bank and Yorkshire Building of the UK are being investigated by Her Majesty’s (HM) Treasury amid increasing concern regarding politically motivated unbanking practices, reports The Telegraph.
The investigation centers on whether customers had their accounts wrongfully suspended and terminated, and The Telegraph cites several specific allegations that may be related to the investigation.
Metro Bank is accused of shuttering bank accounts linked to the political party Reform UK in 2021, and UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s claims that the Brexit Party’s Metro accounts were closed in 2020.
Farage’s accounts at Coutts Bank were also recently closed after staff members declared his views “do not align with our values”.
In addition, Reform UK leader Richard Tice says his American Express account was cut off after the firm demanded that he hand over certain documents, which he refused to do.
And Yorkshire Building recently closed the account of Richard Fothergill, a reverend, after he inquired about the bank’s support of trans people and its celebration of Pride month, although the bank has not specified the exact reasoning behind halting his account.
Andrew Griffith, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, is also reportedly calling in executives from top banks, financial institutions and payment providers to discuss their treatment of prominent clients who express controversial political views.
Says Griffith in a letter,
“The Government is unequivocal that banks and other payment service providers – which occupy a privileged place in society – should not be terminating contracts of payment account facilities on grounds relating to users’ exercising of their right to lawful freedom of expression.
The Government strongly supports this fundamental right afforded to all people in British society and will take the action necessary to protect it.”Don't Miss a Beat – Subscribe to get email alerts delivered directly to your inbox
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