NatWest CEO Dame Alison Rose resigns amid controversy over Nigel Farage’s account

NatWest’s chief executive, Dame Alison Rose, will step down following pressure amid the Nigel Farage bank account controversy.

Dame Alison Rose faced substantial criticism for allegedly being the source of an inaccurate BBC report concerning Nigel Farage’s account at Coutts, a subsidiary of NatWest Group.

NatWest chairman Howard Davies and Dame Alison have reached a mutual decision for her departure, following her acknowledgment of a “serious error of judgment.”

NatWest Group chairman, Sir Howard Davies, issued a statement in the early hours of Wednesday, announcing that he and Alison Rose have reached a mutual agreement for her to step down as CEO of the NatWest Group. He expressed his sadness about the decision.

Throughout her entire professional career, she has devoted herself to NatWest, leaving behind numerous colleagues who hold her in high regard and admiration.

The board of directors at NatWest disclosed that Paul Thwaite, the present chief executive of the company’s Commercial and Institutional division, will assume Dame Alison’s duties for an initial duration of 12 months, subject to regulatory approval.

In a distinct statement, Dame Alison expressed gratitude to her colleagues for their efforts, stating, “I appreciate all that they have done.” She emphasized her immense pride in the bank’s advancements in aiding individuals, families, and businesses throughout the UK, while also establishing the groundwork for sustainable growth.

Previously, she issued an apology for engaging in a conversation with a BBC journalist about the closure of Nigel Farage’s account at NatWest’s private banking arm, Coutts.

Subsequently, her apology followed a previous apology from the BBC for an inaccurate report earlier in the month. The report stated that Mr. Farage’s account was being closed at Coutts due to him no longer meeting the wealth threshold, based on information from a source familiar with the matter.

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On Tuesday evening, Downing Street and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt conveyed their “significant concerns” regarding her conduct, as reported by BBC News.

In early July, Mr. Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party, initially reported the closure of his account.

In her initial acknowledgment of her involvement, Dame Alison stated that during her conversations with BBC business editor Simon Jack, she confirmed that Mr. Farage was a Coutts customer and had been presented with a NatWest bank account. She expressed her belief that this information was already publicly known.

The NatWest CEO clarified that she did not disclose any personal financial details about Mr. Farage.

“In response to a broad question about the eligibility criteria for banking with Coutts and NatWest, I mentioned that guidance on both was readily accessible on their respective websites.”

“I recognize that in doing so, I might have conveyed to Mr. Jack the impression that the decision to close Mr. Farage’s accounts was solely based on commercial considerations,” she stated.

She also conceded, “I made an error by responding to any inquiries posed by the BBC concerning this matter.”

I sincerely apologize to Mr. Farage for any personal distress this may have caused him, and I have written a letter to him today.”

Mr. Farage stated that Coutts did not provide him with a specific reason for closing his account. However, he had obtained a document that detailed his suitability as a Coutts client.

The document expressed concerns about his perceived “xenophobic and racist” views and also evaluated the potential reputational risk associated with having Mr. Farage as a customer.

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Dame Alison stated that Coutts had informed her that the account closure was attributed to commercial reasons.

She clarified that she had not been aware of the dossier obtained by Mr. Farage when she spoke to the BBC’s Simon Jack.

On another note, NatWest is set to disclose financial results for the first six months of the year on Friday, along with a management presentation.

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