Politically Exposed Person (PEP)

What Is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP)?

PEPs or politically exposed persons meaning is high-risk clients with more opportunities than ordinary nationals to gain assets through illegal means like bribe-taking and money laundering. The PEP definition of a politically exposed person (PEP) is charged with an important public function. Pep status meaning is one who has been entrusted with a prominent public function.

Classifying a potential client as a PEP doesn't mean that a corporation can't work with them at all. Discovering a client is a PEP is just a part of the process allowing DNFBPs (Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions) and financial institutions to make a whole risk evaluation. With a PEP check is vital to be aware of the red flags. Sometimes matching just one of these politically exposed person indicators might be linked with financial abuse.

What is PEP Meaning?

The PEP definition according to FATF: Senior government official: executive bodies, diplomatic roles, legislative bodies, judiciary bodies Close family members: are individuals who are related to a PEP either directly (consanguinity) or through marriage or similar (civil) forms of partnership. Organizations and Institutions: a senior executive of a government-owned commercial enterprise. Close associates: are individuals who are closely connected to a PEP, either socially or professionally. A senior: official of a major political party.

Different PEP Types Defined By FATF

Politically exposed persons have different categories defined by FATF. These are;

Foreign PEPs:

Individuals who are or have been entrusted with prominent public functions by a foreign country, such as Heads of State or government, senior politicians, senior government, judicial or military officials, senior executives of state-owned corporations, and important political parties officials.

Domestic PEPs:

Individuals who are or have been entrusted domestically with prominent public functions, such as Heads of State or government, senior politicians, senior government, judicial or military officials, senior executives of state-owned corporations, and important political parties officials.

International organization PEPs:

Persons who are or have been entrusted with a prominent function by an international organization refer to members of senior management or individuals who have been entrusted with equivalent functions, i.e., directors, deputy directors, and members of the board or equivalent functions.

The difference between a foreign PEP and a domestic PEP:

It is the country that has entrusted the individual with the prominent public function. Under the PEP meaning, other factors, such as country of domicile or nationality, are not relevant in determining the type of PEP but may be relevant in determining the level of risk of a specific domestic PEP (foreign PEPs are always a high risk). It should also be noted that a domestic PEP is subject to the foreign PEPs requirements if that individual is also a foreign PEP through another prominent public function in another country.

PEP Risk Levels Based on FATF Guidelines of Red Flags

Every regulated corporation must fit the guidelines while working with a politically exposed person. After the client is uncovered as a PEP, corporations are responsible for ongoing due diligence fitting the PEP’s status. Financial Action Task Force is an intergovernmental AML/CFT institution regulating financial crimes. It is also a fundamental reference for any other regulatory action.

All of our PEP scans are performed by FATF rules, depending on their risk level. PEP risk categories:

  • Low-level risk includes supranational or international business officials and senior functionaries and mayors and members of local, state district, and urban assemblies.   
  • Medium/Low-level risk includes the governmental board and top-ranking officials of state-owned organizations and businesses.
  • Medium-level risk includes head officials of judiciaries, banks, military, law enforcement, senior members of state agencies, high-ranked civil servants and religious organizations, commissioners, consuls, and ambassadors.
  • High-level risk includes heads and government members, parliament members, head officials of judiciaries, banks, law enforcement, military and religious organizations, and prominent political party members.

Compliance software such as Sanction Scanner helps you to comply with regulations. Sanction Scanner AML screening complies with all global and local regulations such as FATF, FINMA, and FCA, minimizing false positives. 

PEP Red Flags to Watch Out for in FATF

Financial Action Task Force has introduced red flags of PEPs to help corporations detect illegal activities. Based on their information matching, several of these indicators should raise some suspicions. In some cases, it might even lead to PEP money laundering. A particular nation or state may also have its own PEP indicators for suspicion that must be considered crucial.

According to the FATF, the measures that will enable companies to detect and control PEPs:

Identity Shielding: As PEPs are aware of their status, sometimes they try and hide their identity or avoid being in the spotlight. For example:

  • Assigning legal ownership to somebody;
  • Abnormally or constantly interacting with intermediaries;
  • Using corporate vehicles without valid business reasons or for confusing involved ownership and industries.

Suspicious Behavior: PEPs' behavior may give them up.

  • Being secretive or uncomfortable about the source of funds and wealth.
  • Providing false, inaccurate, or insufficient information.
  • PEPs information doesn't match with publicly available data.
  • Eagerness to explain the reason behind their business in the country's DNFBP or financial institution.
  • PEP has been denied an entry visa.
  • Funds belonging to PEP moves from one country to another.
  • A steady flow of wire transfers or cash out or into the account of PEP.
  • No credible explanations or details for certain business relationships, transactions, or PEP account openings.
  • In PEP's country, it becomes prohibited to hold property or accounts in other countries.

Position in the Company: PEP's position can become a reason for concern.

  • Access, authority, and control over funds, operations, and policies of the corporation.
  • Informal/formal ability to control mechanisms against TF/ML.
  • Influence/control over government or corporate accounts.
  • Having control or owning over DNFBP for financial institutions. 

The Industry: Industries being considered high-risk depending on the place and varies from nation to nation. Instances of higher risk industries are;

  • Banking and finance.
  • Military and defense.
  • Businesses that work with the government or state agencies.
  • Construction; Mining and extraction.
  • Public goods provision.

Transactions: The way PEP receives or uses money might expose a lot about them:

  • PEPs account shows steady activity in a short period of time after a long period.
  • Private banking;
  • Wire transfers without economic explanation or lacking beneficiary information.
  • Anonymous payments or transactions received from an unknown third party.
  • Funds are moved constantly from one account to another or between financial institutions without a business rationale.
  • Steady cashflows, huge global funds transfers, or wire transfers.
  • Having and using multiple bank accounts without a clear reason

Services and Products: FATF deemed some of the products and services are prone to risk and vulnerable to being used by PEPs;

  • Businesses are catering to foreign clients.
  • Service and trust providers.
  • Concentration/correspondent accounts.
  • Real estate.
  • Dealers in high-value transport vehicles like ships, sports cars, planes, and helicopters.
  • Dealers invaluable stones, metals, and luxury goods.

Local Indicators: The FATF explains how some countries are considered high risk based on geographic risk factors. These indicators must also be taken into account when scanning a PEP.

  • Domestic or foreign high-risk country.
  • A country with a high risk of corruption.
  • Countries with mono-economies.
  • A country that did not sign a relevant anti-corruption convention like the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the UNCAC.

Why Is PEP Screening Important?

Financial crimes pose major threats all over the world. Anti-money laundering regulations include firms' obligations to combat financial crimes. According to PEP in AML regulations, PEPs can commit crimes such as corruption and bribery due to their power. Therefore, financial institutions have to detect PEP customers, and for this, they need PEP screening during customer account opening processes. AML regulators punish organizations that do not follow PEP screening procedures.

Sanction Scanner provides sanction, PEP, and Adverse Media Screening SoftwareSanction Scanner has a comprehensive global sanction, PEP, and adverse media database.

AML Name Screening Software for PEP Screening

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