There was a lot of fuss in the news yesterday about Russia Today – the Kremlin’s English language propaganda arm – having their banking services withdrawn by NatWest bank in the UK. Leaving aside the point that NatWest is free to do business with whomever it chooses and is under no obligation to provide banking services to RT if they don’t wish to; and also leaving aside the fact that it would be monumentally stupid for any member of the British government or authorities to put pressure on NatWest to withdraw their services; take a look at the letter that was sent:
I think at this point I ought to say to Russia Today: welcome to British banking! What, you thought you were a customer and ought to be treated with respect and in a manner of transparency laced with helpful dialogue?
As the kidz say on FaceTwit: lolz!
No, this is simply British banking as they treat all their customers: arbitrary decisions which tick some regulatory box or other sent out of the blue via curt letter and of maximum the inconvenience to the customer. Usually there is no name appended and customers are simply informed of what has happened or invited to call a helpline where somebody on two rupees a day wearing (probably) an adult diaper will tell you there’s nothing they can do.
Not that I have any sympathy with Russia Today. Not because of their output – which is abominable – but because banks in Russia are no different. I’ve had a bank in Sakhalin ordering me to get my bank – based in Geneva – to write them a letter (in Russian of course) in order to address a “problem” with a single letter of a person’s name that was not transliterated properly between Latin and Cyrillic. I was also told I couldn’t open a local bank account as a foreign resident: only my employer could open one on my behalf. And forget about trying to get foreign currency transferred into a ruble-denominated account in a straightforward, sensible manner. Vrach, heal thyself!
Apparently NatWest has now backed down, making their statement that the “decision is final” to be a complete falsehood. RT has quickly learned what I did with British banks: make enough fuss and they’ll back down, every time. The difference is us ordinary folk can’t threaten them with a nuclear strike.