HSBC CEO on Farage-Coutts spat: ‘We do not exit clients based on their lawful personal views’

by | Aug 2, 2023 | Financial

HSBC’s U.K. headquarters are seen at the Canary Wharf financial district of London on July 31, 2018.Tolga Akmen | AFP | Getty ImagesLONDON — HSBC CEO Noel Quinn said Tuesday that the lender would not “exit a client based on their lawful personal views,” after Coutts’ termination of Brexit figurehead Nigel Farage’s account sparked a banking scandal in the U.K.Internal documents obtained by Trump ally Farage revealed that Coutts — a high-end private bank and wealth manager requiring clients to hold a minimum of £1 million ($1.29 million) in investments or borrowing, or £3 million in savings — had opted to cut ties with him once his mortgage was paid off in July, as his account was “below commercial criteria.”But the dossier also extensively cited Farage’s history of controversial views as part of the reason why he was deemed too commercially risky to remain a client, with the bank’s client analysis noting that he is “considered by many to be a disingenuous grifter,” and that “at worst, he is seen as xenophobic and racist.”At the time that he was given notice of the bank’s “exit plan” for his account, Farage was offered an alternative account with high street bank and Coutts’ parent company NatWest Group — but he declined.Although refusing to discuss details of other banks and their clients, HSBC boss Quinn told CNBC on Tuesday that “our policy is not to de-bank or exit a client based on their lawful personal views.””Our primary responsibility is to try to help customers get access to banking and to open up an opportunity for them, whether that’s the homeless in the U.K. where we’ve taken on a significant number of new bank accounts for the homeless in the U.K. and for those that have suffered from human rights abuses,” Quinn said.”We also have a responsibility as an institution to look at any areas of financial crime compliance or we have an obligation to collect information on KYC (Know Your Customer …

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