The Muslim Council of Britain said there must be universal banking rights, irrespective of religious or cultural backgrounds and political views.
Concerned about the “arbitrary closure” of accounts, a group that advocates for British Muslims has requested a review of banking policies.
No matter a person’s political views, cultural background, or religion, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has written to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, and other officials supporting the maintenance of universal banking rights.
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.
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
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.
The arbitrary withdrawal of banking services by different UK banks has become par for the course over the past decade… (it) has continued unhindered with limited transparency into the relevant banking systems and decision making processes
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.”
Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak said people should not be denied financial services simply because others do not agree with their different, but lawfully-held, views.
The Prime Minister said his “primary concern” was the wider impact of the de-banking issue and how it affects others when asked about Mr Farage’s case.
He refused to be drawn when asked whether current NatWest chairman Sir Howard Davies should consider his position.
Mr Sunak told GB News: “I think it’s good that Nigel Farage and Coutts are in dialogue resolving the issue there, but Nigel Farage also spoke about the broader issue of this impacting other people, and that’s my primary concern, because ultimately this isn’t about any one individual, this is about values.
“Values that are important to me and important to our country… Rather than the individuals, to focus on the values that are at stake. Values of freedom of expression and privacy. I believe in those values very strongly.
“People need to be able to have lawfully held views that we might not agree with, but they shouldn’t be denied financial services because of them. And they’re entitled for their financial affairs to be kept private.”