The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has indicated that its ongoing review of bank account access and closures will encompass individuals associated with gambling who have had their accounts closed for anti-money laundering (AML) reasons.
The FCA's response came in an open letter addressing concerns raised by the Gamblers Consumer Forum (GCF) regarding individuals and businesses being "de-banked" due to gambling transactions or connections to the gambling industry. In its response, the FCA implied that it would investigate this issue as part of its broader review into access to and closures of UK payment accounts.
The FCA stated, "We are currently taking steps to understand the extent of denial, suspension, and termination of bank accounts and have asked for information from the largest account providers to assess the impact on a wide range of customers. This includes the reasons firms close or refuse accounts and the impacts of this on different groups of customers."
Historically, some banks have chosen to close accounts linked to gambling activities due to perceived higher AML risks and obligations.
The FCA's investigation into account closures was initiated in response to a controversy involving politician Nigel Farage, whose bank account with Coutts was closed in June. This incident drew attention to de-banking practices more broadly, with some members of parliament describing the impact of account closures on bookmakers as a "scandal."
Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the FCA, emphasized the need to strike a balance between access to bank accounts and the threat of financial crime, as well as firms' risk and commercial appetites. He also raised the question of whether all individuals, businesses, and organizations should have the right to access a bank account, a policy in place in some other countries.
By fLEXI tEAM