Nigel Farage, a British broadcaster and former leader of the UK Independence Party, has claimed that his bank accounts have been shut down. The broadcaster tweeted that the “establishment [is] trying to force me out of the UK by closing my bank accounts.”
“I've been living with something for the last couple of months that may well fundamentally affect my future career going on from here,” Farage said, “and whether I can even stay living in this country. I have been with the same banking group since 1980. I've had my personal accounts with them since that date, and my business accounts right from the 1990s onward, in the city of London, and in recent years, too.”
“I'm with one of the subsidiaries of this big banking group, one with a very prestigious name, but I won't name them just yet. I got a phone call a couple of months ago to say we are closing your accounts. I asked, ‘Why?’ No reason was given. I was told a letter would come, which will explain everything. The letter came through and simply said, ‘We are closing your accounts. We want to finish it all by a date,' which is around about now. I didn't quite know what to make of it. I complained. I emailed the chairman. A lackey phoned me to say that it was a commercial decision, which I have to say, I don't believe for a single moment.”
“So I thought, well there we are, I'd have to go and find a different bank. I'd been to six, no seven banks actually, asked them all could I have a personal and a business account? And the answer has been no. In every single case. There is nothing irregular or unusual about what I do. The payments that go in and come out every month are pretty much the same. I maintain in my business account quite a big positive cash balance, which I guess with interest rates where they are, is pretty good for the bank, too.”
“So why is this happening to me? Well, one explanation is this: A few years ago, the European Union came up with a definition of somebody called a PEP, a Politically Exposed Person, that could range from anybody from a prime minister down to a local councilor. I think the reason for it was, you know, ‘Were people in politics open to bribery? Could foreign governments, from Ukraine or China or wherever else, be pumping money into the accounts of corrupt politicians?’”
“So I kind of understand that and get that. But it's all about interpretation, isn't it? And what the bank’s argue is that to maintain an account with the exposed person, gives them increased costs of compliance. Now I have spoken to the city minister in this country, and there is some hope that this EU definition, which came into British law, may be moderated in some way, we'll have to see. But of course, any bank, any organization can choose to interpret a PEP or whether they want the account, in any way they choose.”
“To my knowledge. I don't think anybody has been treated like me in the world of politics. But then the banks, you see, themselves are part of the big corporate structures in this country. These are the organizations who did not want Brexit to happen.
"And I think in my case, probably the corporate world will never ever forgive me. Because they know if I hadn't done what I did, with the help of thousands of people in our people's army, there never would have been a referendum, let alone victory. I'm the one that has to carry the blame. So that's the second possible reason why I can't get a bank account, prejudice that comes from our institutions. But I think there's a third reason. A few months ago, in the House of Commons, Sir Chris Bryant, chairman of the Privileges Committee, said, using parliamentary privilege, that I had received large sums of money directly from the Russian government. And he named the calendar year in which it would have happened. The truth is, I didn't receive a penny from any source with even any link to Russia.”
“And yet, because he said it, it stands. I wrote to the speaker, I demanded an apology. Nothing has been forthcoming from Sir Chris Briant. I wonder whether that is what's given me part of the problem. I have employed top London lawyers. I'm going through a series of subject access requests to find out what is held on me by the international agencies and by the bank that wants to close me down. But think about it.
"Without a bank account, you effectively become a non-person, you don't actually exist. It's like the worst regimes of the mid 20th century, be they in Russia or Germany. You literally become a non-person. And you don't anymore, you did in the past, you don't anymore, actually have a right to be entitled to a bank account.”
“Now there is a possibility, through a FinTech company, that I could find some means of receiving and paying money, which could be a little bit of a lifeline, but it's not a bank account. Because I won't be able to earn any interest on positive cash balances. I won't be able to borrow money if I need to, at any point, or take out a mortgage should I so desire. That will be completely denied to me. I won't be able to have a debit card linked directly to my account. I won't really be able to exist and function in a modern 21st century Britain.”