NatWest CEO Alison Rose resigns over Nigel Farage Coutts account row

Alison Rose, the chief executive of NatWest, resigned after she acknowledged talking to a top BBC journalist about Nigel Farage’s ties with the bank.

The board of the corporation said they had “full confidence” in Rose, who had maintained her position despite admitting to making a “serious error of judgment” in speaking with Simon Jack regarding the former head of the Brexit party and his locked accounts.

However, Howard Davies, the NatWest board chairman, revealed Rose had decided to resign “by mutual consent” in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Due to the increased political and public scrutiny surrounding Coutts, a private bank owned by NatWest, choosing to cancel Farage’s accounts, her position had become unsustainable. Taxpayers support NatWest, and the state owns just under 40% of the company.

Farage claimed that the “exit” decision was “political” after learning from an internal document that part of the reason for the “de-banking” was that his opinions were not “aligned” with the bank’s. The former MEP is described as “xenophobic and racist” and a “fascist” in the 40-page report.

It called into question a claim made by Jack, the business editor of the broadcaster, that Farage lost his account because he lacked the money to maintain it.

The material on which Jack’s article was based “turned out to be incomplete and inaccurate,” he apologized to Farage on Monday. Rose’s admission on Tuesday and her eventual resignation came after that.

Before leaving, Farage responded to NatWest’s statement on his GB News program, branding Rose “unfit” to lead a bank and criticizing CEOs Peter Flavel of Coutts and Davies.

Government should make it clear that we don’t have faith in this leadership. Farage added after claiming Rose had violated a “fundamental confidence” that “honestly, I think they should all go.

When asked about Farage’s “relationship with the bank” with Jack, Rose said in the statement that she had.

Rose acknowledged making a major mistake of judgment in her chats with BBC reporter Simon Jack, but she said that she had only responded to a general inquiry regarding eligibility and had not divulged any specific financial information about Farage.

According to the Coutts website, clients must be able to borrow or make investments of at least £1 million with the bank or have savings of $3 million.

Rose added that Coutts made the decision to terminate Farage’s accounts and that she was not involved in that process.

The UK Government Investments (UKGI) department oversees the government’s ownership of NatWest “at arm’s length” and on a business-oriented basis. Not the bank itself, but the shareholding, is what UKGI’s job is all about.

In advance of reforms requiring banks to justify and postpone these decisions, Treasury Minister Andrew Griffith is scheduled to meet with lenders on Wednesday to examine concerns that banks have terminated consumer accounts due to their political views.

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