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Farage row: no evidence of politicians being debanked, watchdog to find

The UK’s financial regulator is expected to say it found no evidence that UK politicians are being denied bank accounts or other financial services, after launching a review in the wake of the Nigel Farage debanking row.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is due to release the results of its review by the end of the week, after contacting both banks and politically exposed persons (PEPs) – who include MPs, peers, leaders of UK political parties and senior ranking military officers – last month.

The review is expected to say there is no evidence to show that PEPs are being denied services primarily on the basis of their status, which requires banks to more closely monitor their accounts and transactions, since they are considered to be at a higher risk of bribery or corruption.

The preliminary findings were first reported by the Financial Times. The FCA declined to comment.

The government had instructed the FCA to launch the review earlier this year, arguing that domestic PEPs should face less scrutiny than their foreign counterparts.

However, the subject gained further attention in July after Farage launched a campaign against Coutts, the private lender for the ultra-wealthy, which had planned to shut his accounts.

The former Ukip leader originally claimed the decision to shut his accounts had been linked to his status as a PEP. While it was later revealed to have been linked to commercial considerations as well as alleged reputational risks related to his political views, the saga poured fuel on the debate about the use of discretion relating to PEPs.

The scandal eventually erupted into a freedom of speech row, and snowballed after it emerged that Alison Rose, the chief executive of Coutts’s owner, NatWest, had discussed the matter of Farage’s accounts with a BBC journalist.

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Rose eventually resigned amid government pressure at the end of July, and the chief executive of Coutts, Peter Flavel, was asked to leave days later over the mishandling of the situation.

NatWest has hired lawyers for a widespread investigation, due at the end of October.

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