A 92-year-old Windrush pensioner is amongst “hundreds” of Natwest checking account holders residing abroad to have their financial institution accounts axed, The Independent can reveal.
Philip Cato, who lived in Britain for 30 years however has since retired to Jamaica, was not capable of entry his UK state pension for seven months because of the closure in January this yr.
Mr Cato’s daughter Judy mentioned the “stressful” scenario had impacted him and his 82-year-old spouse and household, who discovered it unattainable to get assist from the financial institution to entry the 1000’s of kilos it had withheld.
But following intervention a solicitor, Natwest was compelled at hand over his backdated pension two weeks in the past.
It comes after former Brexit Party Nigel Farage mentioned his checking account was unfairly shut down by personal financial institution Coutts, owned by NatWest Group, as a result of it didn’t agree along with his political opinions. The row sparked outcry and led to the resignation of NatWest boss Dame Alison Rose.
Natwest mentioned it had pulled the plug on some abroad private accounts in favour of a “UK-centric” method to enterprise.
But clients advised The Independent they’d been left with out ample warning of the closures or insufficient help on the best way to entry their cash, with Mr Cato’s lawyer saying she believed a whole bunch of consumers had been affected.
A spokesperson for Natwest mentioned: “We have taken the decision to stop offering banking services to a number of personal customers in some countries of residence outside the UK. We’re doing so as we focus on investing in and providing great services for those customers in our core market.
“We will always get in touch directly with impacted customers if any changes are made to their account servicing arrangements. We will always treat customers fairly by giving them clear information and timelines about next steps.”
Having migrated from Jamaica to Britain within the Nineteen Sixties, Mr Cato lived and labored right here for 50 years previous to his retirement, holding a Natwest account all through that point.
Mr Cato got here to Britain together with greater than half 1,000,000 Caribbean migrants between 1948 and 1972 to rebuild the nation following World War II.
Natwest claimed to have given him six months’ discover of their intention to shut his account having written to his Jamaica handle in July 2022. However, as a consequence of varied delays, the pensioner didn’t obtain correspondence till December 2022 and the account was closed the next month.
The letter, seen by The Independent, says: “As a business we have taken the difficult decision to reduce the number of countries in which we service our customers.”
Natwest declined to say what number of clients had been affected, which international locations had been being focused and the way it made the selections however confirmed it didn’t apply to all international locations the place clients dwell overseas.
The Independent is conscious of a number of instances of abroad pensioners being affected by “abrupt” closures, together with in Jamaica and Barbados.
Pauline Campbell, the lawyer representing Mr Cato, mentioned his banking data would have clearly proven he was a 91 yr man after they threatened the closure, but “no consideration” was made for the way tough it will be for him to navigate the closure of an account into which his state and personal pension was paid.
“Although this has now been rectified the pain and suffering he and his elderly wife have faced over the past seven months starts with NatWest’s decision.”
Ms Campbell, a pro- bono lawyer for Windrush victims and creator of Rice & Peas & Fish & Chips, added: “In the past two weeks we have witnessed people in high positions resigning due to the Nigel Farage issue, yet no one has taken account of the unnamed ordinary men and women impacted by such a mammoth and inequitable decision. Jamaica is just one country affected, but the question that has to be asked is why Jamaica?
“Once again, as with the hostile environment, a number of those affected are of the Windrush Generation, making it clear that it is not the vulnerable that are heard it is the ones with political clout that Nat West have apologised to.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Council for Britain has known as for an neutral evaluate that not solely addresses the mechanisms behind checking account closures but additionally examines why British Muslims are disproportionately affected by the difficulty.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which regulates UK banks, mentioned monetary establishments ought to have due regard for the pursuits of their clients and deal with shoppers pretty.
An FCA spokesperson mentioned: “Banks may set their own requirements on country of residence for account holders and must comply with local law and regulation when serving customers outside the UK.
“Whether or not banks decide to extend services to customers outside of UK is a commercial decision for them, but we expect them to treat their customers fairly, comply with equalities legislation, and provide adequate notice to the customer if they decide to close their account.”
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