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24 March 2022, 11:24


Politically Exposed Person (PEP) is a person who serves in a high-ranking political position. Continue reading to understand more about a PEP and why it matters.

If you often find yourself reading about anti-money laundering (AML), you have likely come across the term PEP before.

A PEP (politically exposed person) is an individual who is at higher risk of being involved in financial crime. These individuals typically hold a prominent position or function in an organization, institution, or government, making them more likely to be offered bribes or have the opportunity to illegally obtain assets.

In this article, you can learn more about what is a PEP, and why they have are at higher risk of money laundering and other financial crimes.

What is a Politically Exposed Person?

A politically exposed person (PEP) is an individual who has public prominence through their position or function.

These individuals can fall into one of five general categories:

  • Domestic PEPs
  • Foreign PEPs
  • International PEPs
  • Family members
  • Close associates

The main difference between domestic, foreign, and international PEPs is how far the prominence of their position or function extends.

A domestic PEP is an individual that holds a prominent public position or function in their own country, while a foreign PEP holds such a position or function in a foreign country. An international PEP holds this prominence by way of an international organization.

Family members of a politically exposed person may also be considered PEPs. This is also true of close associates of a PEP.

Risks of a Politically Exposed Person

While not all PEPs engage in corrupt practices, they all have the opportunity to do so. There is a higher risk of PEPs being involved in bribery, corruption, and money laundering offences.

This is especially true of PEPs that serve a public function, such as PEPs that have access to state assets and funds or have authority over a region’s policies and operations. These PEPs, especially if they fall under the foreign category, are considered a higher risk of not following AML obligations.

How to Check if Someone is a Politically Exposed Person

PEPs are typically high-ranking individuals in a government or specific organizations, including:

  • Heads of State or government
  • Senior politicians
  • Senior government, judicial, or military officials
  • Prominent political party officials
  • Senior executives of state-owned corporations
  • Directors, deputy directors, members of the board, or persons with equivalent relevance and function in international organizations

If a person meets at least one of these basic criteria, they are likely to be a PEP. Depending on a person’s country and region, the titles a PEP falls under can change, as well as their AML obligations.

Those who are close associates of a PEP, whether socially or professionally, are also considered PEPs. Close associates include those who:

  • Are in a close business relationship with a PEP
  • Have joint ownership of a legal entity with a PEP
  • Have legal arrangements with a PEP
  • Have sole ownership of a legal entity set up for the benefit of the PEP

Immediate family members count as PEPs, whether they are direct relatives or relatives through marriage. This means that alongside parents, children, and siblings, uncles, aunts, spouses, and even in-laws are also considered PEPs.

Using AML to Prevent Money Laundering From PEPs

With the higher risk PEPs pose in regards to financial crime, companies must take the appropriate precautions when handling one as a customer.

DX Compliance uses combined technologies to ensure companies all over the globe achieve AML compliance. Our full-solution transaction monitoring software detects, investigates, and reports suspicious transactions to reduce the risk of money laundering.

For more information about transaction monitoring and AML compliance, reach out to DX Compliance.

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