UK tightens bank account closure rules after criticism of demonetisation

New rules announced by the Treasury on Thursday require banks in Britain to explain and delay any decision to close an account.

The government has looked into concerns that banks are blacklisting some customers for their political views after individuals, including leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage, said their access to funding was restricted.

“The government has moved to allay fears that banks are closing accounts because they disagree with someone’s political beliefs,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

The Financial Conduct Authority said on Wednesday it was in talks with NatWest over the handling of Farage’s accounts.

Under the new rules, banks must explain any closure and customers will be given more time – 90 days – to challenge a decision through the Financial Ombudsman Service or find an alternative bank, the Treasury Department said.

“Banks occupy a privileged place in society and it is right to strike a fair balance between the right of banks to act in their commercial interests and the right of everyone to express themselves freely,” said Andrew Griffiths, economic secretary to the Treasury.

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