The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) which owns NatWest appears to have backtracked on its earlier decision to block Russia Today (RT) bank accounts in the UK.
Russia Today (RT) news channel had their bank accounts blocked pending closure by the National Westminster Bank earlier today.
The sudden move by the bank which came without any explanation or justification, raised suspicion that it was a
political move by the UK government against Russia and to stifle freedom of speech.
The bank had earlier said that the closure of the accounts was not up for discussion.
RBS has now contacted RT saying that the situation is now under review.
The e-mailed response began with apologies for the delay in the reply.
“These decisions are not taken lightly. We are reviewing the situation and are contacting the customer to discuss this further. The bank accounts remain open and are still operative,” Sarah Hinton-Smith, Head of Corporate & Institutional, Commercial & Private Media at RBS Communications, wrote.
However, the response by Hinton-Smith contradicted an earlier statement by RBS Group, which said that the decision to suspend banking services to RT was final and not up for discussion.
The broadcaster addressed the Royal Bank of Scotland representative over the contradiction, pointing out that “your statement seems to suggest that the bank will contact RT and that there will be a review and further discussion.”
“There’s not much more of a steer I can give other than what is in the statement,” Hinton-Smith replied via email.
Earlier Monday, the National Westminster Bank (NatWest), which is part of RBS Group, informed RT UK’s office in London that it will no longer have the broadcaster among its customers, without providing any explanation for the decision.
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group has the UK government as a significant shareholder, but UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s office has denied any involvement by the British state in the matter.
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