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De-banking: UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt warns bank fines could be “very large sums of money”

Hunt says the issue of debanking is under an urgent review with firms potentially liable for fines

Jeremy Hunt

HM Treasury

Banks and other financial services companies falling foul of new rules prohibiting ‘de-banking’ will face fines amounting to very large sums of money,” Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt said this week.

Debanking - the process of denying or removing financial services to people owing to their political views - has morphed into a political issue in recent weeks. 

This came about after the former Brexit party leader Nigel Farage made a subject access request to private bank Coutts, which is owned by NatWest, after his account was set to be closed by the bank.

Speaking to journalists, Hunt said access to banking services was tantamount to a fundamental right. 

“Free speech is a fundamental human right. You can agree or disagree with Nigel Farage, but everyone must be able to express their opinions,” Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, said.

“In today’s society, you need a bank account function and so a threat to be de-banked is a threat to your right to express your opinions. We have regulations – Regulation 18 of the Payments Accounts Regulations – that ban this so called de-banking of people for their political views,” he said.

Hunt - who said he himself was denied a Monzo account recently - has asked the UK’s financial watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority to undergo an urgent review. 

“I’ve written to the regulator – the Financial Conduct Authority – they have the right to fine banks very large sums of money if they find this practice is widespread. I want to know if it is, and I want to know what they are doing about it,” he added.

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