Nigel Farage de-banking scandal had already hit all foreign embassies

Nigel Farage talking to Camilla Tominey about bank account closures

A former senior diplomat to the UK has revealed that almost every foreign embassy and Commonwealth High Commission based in London were told by British banks that their accounts would be closed almost a decade ago.

The revelation shows that the scandal unveiled by Nigel Farage after Coutts tried to shut his accounts for political reasons has been going on since at least 2014.

According to the diplomat, who led his country’s mission to the UK at the time, the de-banking scandal hit every embassy and High Commission in the UK from small Caribbean nations to even the US embassy.

They took their concerns to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) but at the time the Government led by David Cameron with George Osborne in the Treasury and Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary covered up the crisis and asked the diplomats to stay quiet.

But according to the senior former diplomat the issue “is still a problem for the smaller nations to this day.”

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The former diplomat explained that the reason embassies and High Commissions were hit “because of money laundering rules introduced by both the UK and EU.”

They said: “It affected every embassy and High Commission at the Court of St James and threatened to mean that the diplomatic network could not function.

“We smaller countries were particularly badly affected because we do not all have out own clearing banks at home and need local banking to pay the bills.

“The issue is that your country gives you a chunk of money to pay for services and staff, which means you need a British account here to operate.”

A number of diplomats ended up having to pay for embassy staff and expenses through their own private accounts to cope until the mess was resolved.

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Issues like the Panama Papers scandal had led to a tightening of the rules both in the UK and EU and meant that embassies had come under suspicion as a means of money laundering for criminal activities.

The scandal is even understood to have hit the US embassy which in the end managed to get an account with Metro Bank after its founder Vernon Hill stepped in.

For a time there was a Metro Bank branch within the embassy.

The former diplomat said: “We lost our account with HSBC and I spent a lot of time trying to find a new bank but they all said ‘no’.

“In the end, we and a number of other countries went to the Egypt Bank on the corner of Edgeware Road because no British bank would give us an account.”

Smaller Commonwealth countries like Jamaica and Belize are said to have made the loudest fuss about it.

But, the diplomat noted: “The Government was keen to cover it up and we were all asked to stay quiet about it until it could be resolved.”

In the end, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHoGM) in Malta in 2015 saw a showdown with Mr Cameron and different Governments on the issue.

The source said: “Baroness Patricia Scotland had just been installed as the Secretary General of the Commonwealth and she told Cameron in no uncertain terms that this needed to be sorted out.

“She has been very good in all her time at protecting the interests of the smaller countries because the big players like the UK, Australia and Canada really do not understand the difficulties smaller countries have.”

The ex-diplomat added: “Despite this, there are a number of smaller countries in the UK who cannot get British banks to give them accounts for their embassies.” has asked the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for a response but has not received one.

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