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Coutts & Co is private bank owned by The Royal Bank of Scotland.


The bank was set up in 1692 by John Campbell of Lundie in the Strand, London. In 1708 George Middleton became a partner of the bank, he married Campbell's daughter in 1712, and after Campbell passed away, ran the bank. The name Coutts first appeared in the title in 1755 when James Coutts married into the family and invited his brother to join him at the bank which became known as James & Thomas Coutts and then Thomas Coutts & Company. After Thomas died in 1822 the bank became Coutts & Co. In 1919 the decision was made for the bank to amalgamate with the National Provincial & Union Bank of England Ltd. In 1969 the merger of the Westminster Bank and the National Provincial in 1969 meant that Coutts was part of the larger NatWest Group. In 2000 NatWest Group was acquired by The Royal Bank of Scotland and Coutts was established as the private banking arm of the bank.[1]

In 2003 Coutts acquired Bank von Ernst.[1]

In 2008 Coutts international businesses were branded RBS Coutts and in 2015 the international branch was sold to Switzerland's Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) for between $600m and $800m.[2]



  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore[3]


  • UK - Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Dorset, Eton, Exeter, Guildford, Hampshire, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle upon Tyne, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading, Sheffield, Tunbridge Wells
  • Switzerland - Geneva, Zurich,
  • Channel Islands
  • Isle of Man
  • Monaco[3]

Middle East

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Dubai
  • Qatar[3]



Breach of money-laundering rules

In 2012 the British regulator the Financial Services Authority (now the Financial Conduct Authority) fined Coutts £8.75 million for '"serious, systemic" breaches of money-laundering rules that "were allowed to persist for almost three years."' This is despite the bank's rules saying 'they are supposed to make doubly sure that clients who are “politically exposed persons” — politically connected people from countries with corruption problems — are not depositing dodgy money.' £8.75 million is a relatively small amount of money for a bank with Coutts' wealth, there were no individual prosecutions and no bankers were struck off.[7]

Tax avoidance

In the bank's 2014 annual report, RBS told investors that the US Department of Justice was investigating Swiss banks over 'concealing the assets of US taxpayers in offshore accounts'. The report said that the bank are negotiating a financial settlement with US prosecutors and expect to come to an agreement in late 2015. In the same report it also says German authorities are investigating the Swiss arm of the bank and current and former employees for 'alleged aiding and abetting of tax evasion' by certain clients. Journalist Solomon Hughes points out comparisons between Coutts' actions and those exposed in the HSBC Swiss tax avoidance leaks.[7]

Douglas-Home's knighthood

Despite being in charge of the bank whilst it was fined by the FSA for money-laundering and still in charge of the arm being investigated by US and German authorities for aiding tax avoidance, David Douglas-Home was knighted in 2014. He was named in the Queen's 2014 'Order of Thistle' list - a list separate from the New Years honours list - and awarded to those who have 'contributed significantly to the nation'.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Coutts History, accessed 17 April 2015.
  2. BBC News RBS sells Coutts International to UBP, 27 March 2015, accessed 17 April 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Coutts Locations, accessed 17 April 2015.
  4. Coutts Lord Waldegrave, accessed 17 April 2015.
  5. Coutts Michael Morley, accessed 17 April 2015.
  6. Coutts Francesca Barnes, accessed 17 April 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Solomon Hughes 'Arise, Sir Hide-A-Lot' - Queen's Gong For Tax Evasion Bank Boss Morning Star, 17 April 2015, accessed 17 April 2015.