A British businessman specialising in military gear who has supplied 100 military vehicles to war-torn Ukraine is in financial peril after bank Barclays closed his accounts.
Nick Meads, 61, runs driving experiences in old military vehicles such as tanks on his farm in Brackley, Northamptonshire, for military enthusiasts.
When war broke out in Ukraine a year ago he began focussing on shipping vital military vehicles across to the country.
He has legally sourced and supplied 100 military vehicles to help Ukrainians defend against Putin’s invasion, all in deals approved by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Sun reports.
He is being supported by peer Lord John Attlee after his business came under serious threat in recent days.
Mr Meads said his business has now been classed as ‘high risk’ by high street bank Barclays, and closed all of his accounts – both business and personal.
He reportedly received a letter from the nearby Leicester Branch informing him his accounts will be closed on February 20.
He had held the accounts for around 40 years, but has seen turnover in his business account increase 40-fold to £8 million since he began supplying vehicles to Ukraine.
He says he is unable to open an account with any other UK bank, leaving his business and livelihood, as well as potentially life-saving military supplies, in peril.
‘I’ve sent 100 vehicles to Ukraine over the past year, including tanks with guns, but I’m being driven out of business by a bank,’ Mr Mead told the Sun.
‘I’ve been banking with Barclays for 40 years and have never bounced a cheque but they haven’t even got the decency to explain their decision.’
He said he only wants to help Ukraine and given their armed forces ‘what they’re crying out for’.
He is even considering setting up accounts in another country such as Singapore so he can carry on supplying the vehicles.
Mr Meads added: ‘I’m told I’m on a Russian hit list for the work I’m doing and I’m prepared to accept the risk to help Ukraine defend itself.’
His business, which employs nine staff members and has a stock of 300 vehicles, has so far supplied a war fleet including 35 Spartan armoured personnel carriers.
He has also sent 25 armoured ‘snatch’ Land Rovers and Pinzgauer Vector six-wheeled utility vehicles.
Even his local community have got involved, crowdfunding to purchase some of the vehicles to take soldiers to the front lines – and evacuate wounded civilians.
On Thursday, British peer Lord Attlee raised Mr Meads’ case in the House of Lords.
He said: ‘Since there are so few [people] in the UK with the capability to supply these armoured vehicles to Ukraine, Barclays’ action will result in fewer Ukrainian soldiers benefitting from the protection.
‘It is quite likely that some Ukrainian soldiers will die as a result.
‘At the strategic level, Barclays’ actions must surely be entirely counter to the intent of HM government, which is to do whatever we can do to prevent Ukraine from being defeated.
‘It is not acceptable for a bank to withdraw banking services from a business which is helping the UK and Ukrainian Governments achieve their strategic objectives without giving any reason.’
Lord Attlee has himself been involved with vehicle repair and refurbishment since the 1980s.
A member of the Territorial Army, he served in Bosnia with an aid agency during the height of war from 1993 to 1994. He also served in the Gulf War.
Mr Mead purchases used British Army vehicles at auctions and refurbishes them before sale.
A further 15 Spartans, seven armoured personnel carriers and two tank recovery vehicles are due to be dispatched to the front line within days.
He will be unable to send further vehicles unless he is able to reopen his bank accounts.
A Barclays spokesperson said: ‘Decisions to close customer accounts are only made after very careful consideration and based on all the facts available to us at the time.
‘We apply higher levels of due diligence in order to manage and mitigate risk, especially where third parties are involved.’