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Natwest to appoint new chairman after Farage fiasco and Rose resignation

by: Emma Lunn
  • 06/09/2023
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Rick Haythornthwaite is to succeed Sir Howard Davies as chair of Natwest, according to reports on Sky News.

Haythornthwaite previously chaired Centrica and Network Rail and also headed up Mastercard International. He currently chairs Ocado and the AA.

Haythornthwaite’s appointment is expected to be made official this week. He will join the Government-backed bank after a chaotic few weeks following the closure of Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage’s accounts at Coutts.

NatWest Group CEO Alison Rose stepped down in July after admitting she was the source behind the BBC’s inaccurate story over Farage’s bank account closure.

Rose told the BBC that Farage’s accounts at the private bank were closed because he wasn’t wealthy enough, but it later transpired that the bank noted a “reputational risk” in having Farage as a client, and flagged concerns over his political views.

Debanking scandal

The closure of Farage’s accounts prompted the financial watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority to ask the biggest banks and building societies to provide information on account closures.

It also spawned various investigations into how many consumers have been “debanked” by UK banks. The Government plans to introduce new rules to give customers up to 90 days (from 60 days now) to challenge closures. The new legislation will give customers more time to challenge a decision through the Financial Ombudsman Service, or find a replacement bank.

Natwest chairman Howard Davies said he would not quit after initially backing Rose in the saga. But he had always planned to step down before the bank’s annual meeting in 2024, and it is not thought that his departure will be accelerated significantly.

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