ICO apologizes to former NatWest CEO for misleading implications

Published 11/06/2023, 07:19 AM
Updated 11/06/2023, 08:21 AM
© Reuters.

In a recent development, the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has issued an apology to Dame Alison Rose, the former chief executive of NatWest Group Plc. The ICO had initially suggested that a NatWest employee had inappropriately disseminated confidential information, leading to two privacy breaches. These statements indirectly implied that Dame Alison was under investigation following her resignation after discussing Nigel Farage's banking status with a journalist.

The ICO clarified that the probe was directed at NatWest as the data controller and not Dame Alison. The office expressed regret for any misunderstandings caused by its initial statements and confirmed that there was no evidence of Dame Alison breaching UK GDPR laws. Furthermore, the ICO expressed regret for not giving Rose a chance to respond to these findings.

The ICO's October ruling identified two privacy infringements involving Simon Jack, BBC News business editor. These breaches enabled Jack to disclose on-air that Farage no longer met the financial requirements to maintain an account with Coutts, a subsidiary of the NatWest Group. The ICO emphasized that its investigation targeted NatWest for these breaches, not Dame Alison.

This clarification by the ICO provides a significant update in the ongoing controversy around the disclosure of Farage's sensitive banking details and underscores the importance of clear communication in matters related to data protection and privacy.

The miscommunication stemmed from an investigation into NatWest's management of confidential information, not Rose herself. Initially, the ICO was probing whether NatWest had breached Farage's data rights after Rose's conversation with the BBC journalist. Recognizing "serious failings" in its handling of Farage's confidential information, NatWest committed to overhauling its policies and procedures related to the closure of clients’ accounts.

In addition to this, it has come to light that Rose is currently embroiled in a fight to retain a £2.4 million pay-off. This new context adds another layer to the ongoing saga surrounding Rose's departure from NatWest and the ICO's investigation. The ICO's apology and clarification have marked a significant turn in the narrative, shifting the focus of the investigation away from Rose and squarely onto NatWest's handling of confidential client data.

InvestingPro Insights

In light of the recent developments surrounding NatWest Group (NWG), it's worth noting some key financial metrics and insights from InvestingPro. Firstly, the company has seen a significant revenue growth of 18.07% over the last twelve months as of Q3 2023, suggesting a strong business performance despite recent controversies. Furthermore, the company's P/E ratio stands at a low 4.01, indicating that the stock could be undervalued.

However, investors should be aware of a few challenges. According to InvestingPro Tips, NatWest is quickly burning through cash and suffers from weak gross profit margins. Additionally, the stock has fared poorly over the last month, with a significant drop in price over the last three months.

Despite these challenges, the company has consistently increased its earnings per share and pays a significant dividend to shareholders, with a yield of 5.77% as of the end of 2023. These factors, combined with the prediction from analysts that the company will be profitable this year, suggest potential upsides for investors.

Remember, these are just a couple of tips from InvestingPro. The platform offers a multitude of other insights and tips that can help investors make informed decisions.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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