Children now being denied bank accounts because of their parents’ political involvement
07/27/2023 // Ethan Huff // Views

Controversial European Union (EU) rules on "politically exposed persons" have made it next to impossible for the children of politicians to open bank accounts in the United Kingdom.

What The Telegraph describes as "draconian money-laundering rules" require that politicians and their families agree to highly invasive "enhanced" checks by banks in order to qualify as customers.

The rule is up for debate with ministers calling on it to be scrapped. Members of Parliament like Lord Sharkey, a Liberal Democrat peer, say the rule is being used against he and his family with banks demanding personal financial information from his three children.

A former adviser to Nick Clegg, Sharkey says he ran into trouble with NS&I, a state-owned savings bank, ever since the rule was introduced in 2016.

"I was very surprised when it wrote to me demanding very much more detail about my finances and sources of funds," Sharkey said. "My three children were even more surprised to get the same letter. They did not even have NS&I accounts, which showed overzealousness on the part of the organization."

When Sharkey complained to the bank about the rule, he was told that he must provide the required information "or we will close your account."

Only after getting the Treasury to intervene was Sharkey and his family able to maintain their accounts at NS&I, to which he commented that he is "lucky" in the sense that he was dealing with a state-owned bank rather than a private bank.

(Related: Failing banks, rising inflation, and the escalating recession-depression has created a "doom loop," warned top economist Nouriel Roubini.)

Lord Sharkey calls on British government to stop abuses of the EU rule

Sharkey is urging the government of his country to take tougher action to ensure the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), a watchdog group, stops these types of abuses from occurring in the future.

"The existing guidelines are perfectly all right," he commented. "The problem is the financial institutions are not following them and the FCA is not enforcing them."

A Tory peer by the name of Lord Forsyth says his daughter was likewise approach by Coutts, the bank where her family does business. The young woman was asked if she would like to move her account as a result of being related to Lord Forsyth.

A former Cabinet minister under Sir John Major, Forsyth says both he and his daughter were Coutts customers at the time, this being the same bank that recently cancelled the account of Nigel Farage.

Forsyth recalled when a manager at the bank asked his daughter: "Is there any chance that you could move to another bank because you are such a pain to look after because your dad is a politically-exposed person?"

"In my view, that is an absolute disgrace," Forsyth responded to the incident. "Our children find it difficult to get mortgages. People find it difficult on probate."

Then there is Lord Kirkhope, another Tory peer who says one of his sons was denied a bank account after he revealed that Kirkhope is his father.

"Everything was going swimmingly until someone contacted him and said 'are you by any chance related to a Lord Kirkhope?' He said yes," Kirkhope said.

"He then received a communication some two weeks later telling him that his application for an account had been declined. It was obvious why."

Baroness Kramer says she was asked for proof of her dead husband's income when attempting to open a savings account with Chase UK.

"My husband died 17 years ago and I do not know how many people still have their pay slips from 17 years ago, never mind those of a dead spouse," she commented.

"It just seemed so intrusive and so silly. I told them, frankly, forget it, withdraw my application."

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