Call for review as ‘British Muslims disproportionately affected by de-banking'
An organisation representing British Muslims has called for a review into banking practices over concerns about the “arbitrary closure” of accounts.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has written to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and others urging the protection of universal banking rights, irrespective of someone’s religious or cultural background or political views.
The group said “many law-abiding Muslim individuals and Muslim-led organisations” have been “gravely impacted by the arbitrary withdrawal of banking services” and argued that it had “become par for the course over the past decade” with no action taken to address it.
Banks are facing the prospect of widespread reforms to account closures after the Nigel Farage de-banking row that last week led to the resignation of NatWest chief executive Dame Alison Rose.
Former MEP Mr Farage said his bank account was unfairly shut down by Coutts, owned by NatWest Group, because it did not agree with his political views.
NatWest has since announced an independent review, with lawyers probing the closure of Mr Farage’s account and other instances of de-banking by Coutts.
Mr Farage said Coutts has offered to reinstate his personal and business accounts, with the former Ukip leader also seeking compensation from the private bank.
But the MCB said British Muslims have been disproportionately affected by the issue of bank accounts being closed down for many years.
The organisation also sent its letter to leaders of opposition parties as well as the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury.
It stated: “Your decisive intervention calling for change at the NatWest group, following the recent denial of banking services to Nigel Farage, is of note. For British Muslims and Muslim-led organisations however, the arbitrary withdrawal of banking services by different UK banks has become par for the course over the past decade.
“The practice has continued unhindered, with limited transparency into the relevant banking systems and decision-making processes, little to no recourse for those impacted and no action taken by successive governments to address any of the aforementioned.”
It added that “significant cause for concern” remains “that many British Muslims and Muslim-led organisations have somehow been determined to be a potential risk” despite a lack of “validated evidence of any criminal activity”.
Zara Mohammed, MCB secretary general, said: “We urge for an impartial review that not only addresses the mechanisms behind bank account closures but also examines why British Muslims are disproportionately affected by this issue.
“Our affiliates are ready to share their experiences and recommendations to ensure fair treatment for all.
“We call for the protection of universal banking rights, irrespective of religious or cultural backgrounds and political views, ensuring equitable access to financial services for all.”