The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the leading financial regulatory body in the UK, has initiated an inquiry into the correlation between banking services and freedom of speech.
This move follows a directive from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who urged the FCA to promptly determine the number of customers who have been "de-banked" due to their political perspectives.
Hunt emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating that the prospect of being de-banked constitutes a direct threat to one's right to express personal opinions. As part of the investigation, the FCA has called upon major banks and building societies to furnish details regarding customers whose accounts have been terminated, suspended, or denied services. Banks will also need to elucidate the reasons behind these decisions.
The FCA has imposed a deadline of August 25 for over 25 prominent financial institutions to provide their responses. The regulatory body intends to publish the results of its inquiry by mid-September.
In correspondence with the chancellor, Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the FCA, acknowledged the escalating public concern surrounding the abrupt closure of payment accounts without reasonable justification. Rathi revealed that the FCA had already been working on a comprehensive data assessment to gauge the extent of this issue.
Hunt further recommended that the FCA impose substantial fines on banks if the investigation reveals instances of customers being blacklisted based on their political beliefs. This inquiry signifies an effort to ensure that banking services remain impartial and do not curtail individuals' right to express their viewpoints freely.
By fLEXI tEAM