Politically Exposed Persons Checks – What a Waste of Time and Money – Veriphy Home

Politically Exposed Persons Checks – What a Waste of Time and Money

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Quite a few of our users reading this will know of my frustration with the Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) register. When I deal with queries on possible matches to the register I do not hold back in my condemnation of having to check against data that is simply not fit for purpose – the majority of entries in the register do not have dates of birth included leading to a ridiculously high number of false positives just because someone, somewhere shares a client’s name.

Back in 2007 when the 3rd Anti-Money Laundering Directive came into force the stipulation was that our checks had to access a file of foreign nationals to see if there were possible matches. There was a quick way of discounting the matches as a simple check on the nationality of the person being checked and the PEP on the register was a handy way of discounting the false positive (which is a polite euphemism for a mistake).

This situation is now far worse with the inclusion of domestic PEPs. Not only that, the registers are great for adding to the lists but notoriously bad at removing that data. We recently had a name match against a councillor who had been dead for several years. I would argue that person is not involved in much in the way of bribery and corruption and was certainly not buying a new flat.

And I did say ‘councillor’ – the bar is consistently being lowered by over cautious organisations. This is in spite stipulation from the Financial Action Task Force that a PEP ‘is an individual who is or has been entrusted with a prominent public function.’

This deeply flawed system is costing businesses real money. A recent survey by LexisNexis found that ‘71% of financial services professionals indicated business is lost due to customer friction caused by false positives.’

There seems to be only two ways to go now: scrap the stipulation that these registers should be accessed at all, or force those maintaining them to have a massive data cull of outdated and incomplete data.

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