LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's competition watchdog has blocked Virgin Money from forcing small business owners without a business account to open one to access emergency COVID-19 loans.
The Competition and Markets Authority said it had stopped Virgin Money's Clydesdale Bank arm from 'bundling' business accounts with loans for personal account customers.
Clydesdale has voluntarily written to all 167 affected customers, including some Yorkshire Bank customers, informing them they are not required to retain their business accounts, the CMA said.
Last year rival Lloyds was stopped by the CMA for similar treatment of customers.
The CMA said Virgin Money customers affected may have incurred unnecessary charges once initial fee-free periods on their accounts were over.
A Virgin Money spokesman said for the 167 applicants "their business was set up so recently that we were unable to process the usual fraud and money laundering checks.
"To help make sure they swiftly received the loan funds, we asked them to open a business current account to let us progress their application."
(Reporting by Iain Withers; editing by Jason Neely)