NatWest boss Dame Alison Rose has admitted she made a “serious error of judgement” when she discussed Nigel Farage’s Coutts bank accounts with the BBC business editor Simon Jack.
Last week, Dame Alison apologised to the former UKIP leader for the closure of his accounts and ordered an immediate review of the processes followed by its Coutts subsidiary.
The NatWest board has said it retains full confidence in Ms Rose as chief executive of the bank but the events will be taken into account when deciding her remuneration.
The chairman of NatWest, Howard Davies, said there have been “serious consequences” for the bank as a result of the “unsatisfactory” handling of the closure of Mr Farage’s account.
The story first came to light when the BBC inaccurately reported Mr Farage’s account was closed as he did not meet Coutts’s financial thresholds.
Documents obtained by Mr Farage subsequently showed his political beliefs and connections formed part of the rationale.
The BBC, on Monday, apologised for the report.
Dame Alison said she believed it was public knowledge that Mr Farage was a Coutts customer and had been offered a NatWest account, and so confirmed these details to Jack.
“I would like to emphasise that in responding to Mr Jack’s questions I did not reveal any personal financial information about Mr Farage,” she added.
“In response to a general question about eligibility criteria required to bank with Coutts and NatWest I said that guidance on both was publicly available on their websites.
“In doing so, I recognise that I left Mr Jack with the impression that the decision to close Mr Farage’s accounts was solely a commercial one.”
Dame Alison said at the time of her conversation with Jack she had not seen the material behind Coutts’s decision to close the accounts and was not part of the decision making process to close the accounts.
Instead, she said, Coutts told her in April Mr Farage’s account was being closed for commercial reasons.
“Put simply, I was wrong to respond to any question raised by the BBC about this case.”
The NatWest board said it believed it was “clearly in the interest of all the bank’s shareholders and customers” that Dame Alison continued in the role.
“She has proved, over the last 4 years to be an outstanding leader of the institution, as demonstrated by our results,” Mr Davies said.
Findings of the NatWest review into the closing of Mr Farage’s accounts will be made public and the terms of reference will be announced shortly, the NatWest announcement said.
The banking regulator said it had raised concerns with the NatWest Group about the breach of customer confidentiality.
“We made clear our expectation that these issues should be independently reviewed and note today’s statement from the NatWest group board confirming this will happen,” the Financial Conduct Authority said.
“It is vital that the review is well resourced and those conducting it have access to all the necessary information and people in order to investigate what happened swiftly and fully.”
NatWest is 38.6% taxpayer-owned after state bailouts during the global financial crash.
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