Former NatWest Group (LON: NWG ) CEO, Dame Alison Rose, is considering legal action against the bank following the cancellation of her unvested share awards, valued in millions. This development comes in the wake of controversy surrounding derogatory comments made by NatWest employees about Nigel Farage, former Ukip leader, and his finances. The comments were made following Coutts' decision to 'debank' Farage, triggering a comprehensive review of such practices across the UK banking sector.
Dame Alison resigned from her position after discussing Farage's private banking details with a BBC journalist. Since stepping down in July 2023, she has continued to receive her annual £2.4m package and holds approximately 2.5m unvested NatWest shares, valued at £5.19m according to Tuesday's closing price. However, due to her mid-year exit, she would only be eligible for just over half of her £2.9m annual variable pay.
The controversy escalated when it was revealed that Farage's political views influenced the decision to close his account at Coutts. A report by Travers Smith law firm was submitted to the NatWest board earlier this month investigating Farage's exit process and the disclosure to the BBC. This led to an emergency board meeting confirming Dame Alison's departure after Downing Street lost confidence in her leadership.
In response to the controversy, NatWest is conducting an independent review of the key findings and recommendations from the Travers Smith law firm report. The review will also assess the closure of Coutts accounts over the past two years, including Farage's debanking.
Amidst these developments, Paul Thwaite has assumed Dame Alison's role on an interim basis. Rick Haythornthwaite, current Chairman of Ocado (LON: OCDO ) Group, is set to replace Sir Howard next year as part of a leadership transition that comes 15 years after NatWest's £45.5bn taxpayer bailout.
Nigel Farage has demanded an investigation into the NatWest staff involved in the controversy and called for the termination of Dame Alison's multi-million-pound severance pay. Despite the negative comments made about him, Farage reassured GB News viewers that he remains unaffected by the situation.
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