Jeremy Hunt reveals he was refused Monzo bank account

Jeremy Hunt reveals he was refused Monzo bank account

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Jeremy Hunt was refused a bank account with Monzo last year, which the chancellor said was an example of the “barriers” faced by people wanting to work in public life.

Hunt said he believed he was denied the account – before he became chancellor – because he was a “politically exposed person” (PEP).

“If the price of going into public life is that you find it really hard to set up a bank account, then we need to make sure that we remove barriers where we can,” Hunt told the FT. “I think that’s why I was declined by Monzo for an account last year.”

Monzo, which has 7.5 million customers, is one of a series of “challenger banks” that have opened accounts that are accessible only via their website or apps, removing the need for costly branch networks. However, Monzo and other rivals do not offer mortgages, meaning they are more reliant on fees and interest on smaller loans such as overdrafts. Monzo only reached profitability for the first time in the first two months of 2023, after being founded in 2015.

The bank declined to say whether Hunt’s status as a PEP was behind the refusal to open an account. Monzo said:We don’t comment on anyone’s application for a Monzo product or eligibility decisions.”

A Treasury spokesperson declined to comment on a minister’s personal finances.

The issue of access to banking by politicians has come under government scrutiny, in particular after Nigel Farage complained that his account with Coutts had been closed.

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Banks are required to subject PEPs to extra checks because of a potentially increased risk of money laundering.

However, Farage’s complaint prompted the security minister, Tom Tugendhat, to warn that it should be “unacceptable” for banks to close accounts on “political grounds”, while the culture secretary, Lucy Frazer, said regulators should take action against banks if they had shut down accounts because of politicians’ views.

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The row also prompted the Treasury to say that “it would be a serious concern if financial services were being denied to those exercising the right to lawful free speech”.

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The government has since passed an amendment to the financial services and markets bill that will force the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, to review the way banks treat PEPs.

Farage claimed he was considering leaving the UK because of the closure of the Coutts account, which he believed was caused by his status as a politician. However, the bank is understood to have shut Nigel Farage’s bank account after he fell below the prestigious lender’s wealth requirements.

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Coutts, part of NatWest Group, was known as the bank of choice for the late Queen Elizabeth II.

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