HM Treasury is responsible for the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 (‘the Regulations’). The Regulations set out the high-level requirements on regulated firms to combat money laundering and ensure that key professionals identify their customers and understand the purpose behind transactions, including the source of funds. The Regulations are designed to combat illicit finance, while minimising the burden on legitimate customers.
The Regulations require firms in scope of the regulations to have in place appropriate risk-management systems and procedures to determine whether a customer (or their beneficial owner) is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP), family member of a PEP or close associate of a PEP.
PEPs are individuals entrusted with a prominent public function. This definition includes but is not limited to heads of state, heads of government, ministers and deputy or assistant ministers, members of parliament or of similar legislative bodies.
PEPs can pose a high money laundering risk because they may be able to abuse their position for private gain. Not all PEPs, however, pose the same money laundering risk; there is a hierarchy depending on country of origin and rank, from middle tier officials to individuals with significant or absolute control over the levers, patronage and resources in a given area. For example, the Financial Conduct Authority’s guidance states that UK PEPs should be considered as lower risk.
Where a firm has identified that a customer (or their beneficial owner) is a PEP, family member or close associate of a PEP, it must conduct an appropriate range of Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) measures. When carrying out EDD on PEPs, firms must take adequate measures to establish the source of wealth and source of funds which are involved in the proposed transaction or business relationship, get approval from senior management to establish or continue a relationship with that person and carry out enhanced monitoring of the business relationship.