Coutts CEO departs as Farage claims another victim

NatWest Group Plc said on Thursday the head of its Coutts private bank subsidiary, Peter Flavel, will depart with immediate effect.

On Wednesday, the UK government forced the ousting of NatWest group CEO Alison Rose following her “regrettable error of judgement” in discussing with BBC journalist Simon Jack the relationship of Coutts with former Brexit party leader Nigel Farage.

Internal documents at Coutts showed that staff discussed Farage’s reputation as “xenophobic and racist” and a “grifter” as it decided to sever its ties with him, according to documents that Farage later made public.

“In the handling of Mr Farage’s case we have fallen below the bank’s high standards of personal service,” Flavel said in a statement.

“As CEO of Coutts it is right that I bear ultimate responsibility for this, which is why I am stepping down.”

Flavel will be replaced by Mohammad Kamal Syed on an interim basis.

NatWest is still 38.6% owned by the UK government and taxpayer following its £45.5 billion bailout during the last financial crisis.

NatWest’s announcement on Rose’s departure came after the firm’s board reconvened late on Tuesday to discuss Rose’s position with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt, with both politicians indicating that Rose’s position was untenable.

Flavel stepped down “by mutual consent with immediate effect,” said NatWest Group’s acting chief executive Paul Thwaite.

“While I will be personally sorry to lose Peter as a colleague, I believe this is the right decision for Coutts and the wider group,” said Thwaite.

“I have asked Mohammad Kamal Syed to step into the role of interim CEO of Coutts and our wealth businesses.

“Mo has extensive wealth management experience and is the ideal person to lead Coutts through this difficult time as we begin the search for Peter’s replacement.”