Politically exposed persons and heads of international organizations – Life insurance companies, brokers and agents

June 2017

A politically exposed person (PEP) or the head of an international organization (HIO) is a person entrusted with a prominent position that typically comes with the opportunity to influence decisions and the ability to control resources. The influence and control a PEP or HIO has puts them in a position to impact policy decisions, institutions and rules of procedure in the allocation of resources and finances, which can make them vulnerable to corruption.

Corruption is an international issue that impacts all countries, so the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has recommended that all countries consider domestic as well as foreign politically exposed persons and heads of international organizations as part of the approach to combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. The FATF references the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) which defines PEPs as "individuals who are, or have been, entrusted with prominent public functions and their family members and close associates".

Transparency International is an organization that operates internationally with a mandate to stop corruption and promote transparency. It can be a source of information to learn more about corruption and the potential vulnerability of persons who hold prominent positions.

Corruption can be defined simply as the misuse of public power for private benefit. Internationally, as well as within Canada's own anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing legislation, it is important to understand that the possibility for corruption exists, and that politically exposed persons or heads of international organizations can be vulnerable to carrying out, or being used for, money laundering or terrorist activity financing offences.

Part of knowing your clients is determining whether a person is a foreign PEP, a domestic PEP, a HIO, or a family member or close associate of one of these people.

The reporting entities with these obligations include financial entities, securities dealers, money services businesses and life insurance companies. This guidance is for life insurance companies, broker and agents who have to make a PEP or HIO determination in relation to lump-sum payments.

You must take reasonable measures to determine whether a person who makes a lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more towards an immediate or deferred annuity or life insurance policy, on their own behalf or at the instruction of someone else, is a foreign PEP, a domestic PEP, a HIO, or a family member or close associate of any of these.

While foreign PEPs, their family members and their close associates must automatically be treated as high-risk clients, you have an obligation to assess a domestic PEP, a HIO, or the family member or close associate of a domestic PEP or HIO to determine if the person poses a high risk for committing a money laundering or a terrorist activity financing offence. If you assess the risk to be high, then the person must be treated as a high-risk client.

All high-risk clients are subject to your policies and procedures for high-risk clients, outlined as a requirement of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA). For high-risk PEPs, HIOs, their family members and close associates, you have specific obligations to keep records, establish source of funds, and obtain senior management review of the transaction.

If you have already determined that a person is a foreign PEP or the family member of a foreign PEP, in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR), you are not required to make this determination again. This guidance and the additional obligations related to PEPs and HIOs will be in force as of June 17, 2017.

What reasonable measures should I use to make the determination?

You must take reasonable measures to determine if a person is a foreign PEP, a domestic PEP, a HIO, or the family member or close associate of one of these, if the person makes a lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more towards an immediate or deferred annuity or life insurance policy, on their own behalf or at the instruction of someone else. You must also take reasonable measures to establish the source of funds for the lump-sum transaction for these persons.

Reasonable measures include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following actions:

  1. asking the client;
  2. conducting an open source search; or
  3. consulting a source of commercially available information.

You may consider using more than one reasonable measure to make a determination.

A reasonable measure is a proactive effort because you are required to take a measure to make the determination. As such, you must have a process in place to make this determination. For example, your process might be that you ask every person, at the time of the transaction, and then act on the response you receive.

Who is a foreign PEP?

A foreign PEP is a person who holds or has held one of the following offices or positions in or on behalf of a foreign state:

These persons are foreign PEPs regardless of citizenship, residence status or birth place.

A person determined to be a foreign PEP, is forever a foreign PEP.

Who is a domestic PEP?

A domestic PEP is a person who holds — or has held within the last 5 years — a specific office or position in or on behalf of the Canadian federal government, a Canadian provincial government, or a Canadian municipal government:

* In line with legislation across Canada, municipal governments include cities, towns, villages and rural (county) or metropolitan municipalities. As such, a mayor is the head of a city, town, village, or rural or metropolitan municipality, regardless of the size of the population.

A person ceases to be a domestic PEP 5 years after they have left office.

Who is the head of an international organization?

The head of an international organization is a person who is either:

  1. the head of an international organization established by the governments of states; or
  2. the head of an institution established by an international organization.

When we refer to the head of an international organization or the head of an institution established by an international organization we are referring to the primary person who leads that organization, for example a president or CEO.

There is no requirement for an institution established by an international organization to operate internationally. It is possible that an institution that has been established by an international organization only operates domestically, or in one jurisdiction.

You need to use reasonable measures to determine if the person is the head of an international organization or the head of an institution set up by an international organization.

Once a person is no longer the head of an international organization, or the head of an institution established by an international organization, that person is no longer a HIO.

What is an international organization?

An international organization is an organization set up by the governments of more than one country. The key to determining whether you are dealing with a HIO is to determine how the organization was established. If the organization was established by means of a formally signed agreement between the governments of more than one country, then the head of that organization is a HIO. The existence of these organizations is recognized by law in their member countries but the organizations are not seen to be resident organizations of any one member country.

Certain organizations clearly meet this definition, but others may take more research before coming to a determination. Examples of international organizations, and institutions established by international organizations, can be found in Annex A of this guidance.

Why is it important to consider the family member or close associate of a PEP or HIO?

It is critical to consider family members or close associates of PEPs and HIOs as part of your PCMLTFA obligations. It is an established trend that criminals carrying out, or directing, criminal activity will distance themselves from the proceeds of that crime as much as possible until they have laundered the money. FINTRAC has observed that many criminals rely on family members or other personal relationships to conduct transactions on their behalf in order to create this distance until they can establish a safe way to spend these assets.

You may, therefore, not see financial transactions or joint policies between the PEP or HIO and their family members or close associates. This is because the purpose of laundering funds is to protect the identity of the criminals and they may avoid a direct link with the individuals involved in conducting any transaction on their behalf. This is why FINTRAC's guidance references other types of associations to consider, beyond a transaction or joint policy, when making a close associate or family member determination.

Who is considered to be the family member of a PEP or a HIO?

If a person is a foreign PEP, domestic PEP or HIO, then certain family members must also be regarded as PEPs or HIOs. These family members are:

Is the niece of a PEP considered a family member?

No. A person is a PEP or HIO because of the position that they hold or have held. The family members of the PEP or HIO that are specifically listed in this guideline are also regarded as PEPs or HIOs. If John is a PEP, then John's brother, Sam, is considered a PEP. But Sam's daughter (John's niece) is not determined to be a PEP under the PCMLTFA.

Is the step-child of a PEP or the step-child of a PEP's mother or father considered a family member?

A step-family relationship does not fall under the definition of a family member unless they were legally adopted. For example, if Helen is a domestic PEP, and she has legally adopted Sarah, her step-daughter through marriage, then Sarah is the child of a domestic PEP.

Similarly, if a marriage includes step-siblings the siblings are not considered family members if they were not legally adopted by the step-parent. For example, Angela marries a foreign PEP, and each has a daughter from a previous marriage. Neither Angela, nor the foreign PEP, adopts the other's daughter, so the two daughters are not considered as siblings to each other. Only Angela (legal spouse) and the foreign PEP's biological daughter need to be considered as family members of a foreign PEP.

Who is considered to be a close associate of a PEP or a HIO?

You must take reasonable measures to determine whether a person who makes the lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more is a close associate of a foreign PEP, a domestic PEP or a HIO.

A close associate can be an individual who is closely connected to a PEP or HIO for personal or business reasons. The term "close associate" is not intended to capture every person who has been associated with a PEP or HIO.

A person determined to be a close associate of a foreign PEP must be treated as a high-risk client.

However if you determine that a person is a close associate of a domestic PEP or HIO, you must conduct a risk assessment of that close associate. If you determine that a close associate is a high risk for a money laundering or terrorist activity financing offence, then you must treat that person as a high-risk client.

Some examples of a close association for personal or business reasons include a person who is:

The examples provided are only a sample of considerations to assist you in identifying close associates. Because a close associate is not meant to be every person associated to a PEP or HIO, you will need to have a means to determine if this is a close association you need to identify and treat as such.

You need to use reasonable measures to determine if a person is a close associate of a PEP or HIO. However, if you have actual knowledge of a close association, you must act on this, even if such association is not otherwise widely or publicly known.

The reasonable measures you take to identify a close association may include processes you have in place for other purposes such as media monitoring; the ongoing monitoring of your business relationships; questions you ask of your clients; access to a database that outlines associations; or a third party credible source that identifies these connections between a PEP or HIO and your client.

When do I make the determination?

As a life insurance company, broker or agent, the requirement for you to determine if a person is a PEP, a HIO, or their family member or close associate is triggered by that person making a lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more towards an immediate or deferred annuity or life insurance policy on their own behalf or at the instruction of someone else.

What do I do once the determination is made?

  1. If you determine that the person is a foreign PEP, or a family member or close associate of a foreign PEP, you must also take reasonable measures to determine the source of the funds for the transaction and have a member of senior management review the transaction.

    Within 30 days after the day of the transaction, you must take the reasonable measures to determine whether the person is a foreign PEP, or a family member or close associate of a foreign PEP, establish the source of the funds for the transaction and have a member of senior management review the transaction.

  2. If you determine that the person is a domestic PEP, a HIO, or their family member or close associate, you must then perform a risk assessment of the person. If you determine that the person is a high risk for a money laundering or a terrorist financing offence, you must also take reasonable measures to determine the source of the funds for the transaction and have a member of senior management review the transaction.

    Within 30 days after the day of the transaction, you must take the reasonable measures to determine whether the person is a domestic PEP, a HIO, or a family member or close associate of a domestic PEP or HIO, conduct the risk assessment, and, if applicable, establish the source of the funds for the transaction and have a member of senior management review the transaction.

Risk assessment of a PEP, HIO, family member, or close associate

If you determine that the person who makes the lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more is a foreign PEP, or a family member of, or person closely associated with a foreign PEP, you must consider that person as high-risk. As a high-risk client, you must proceed to establish the source of funds for the transaction, and have a member of senior management review the transaction.

If you determine that the person is a domestic PEP, a HIO, or a family member or close associate of a domestic PEP or HIO, your risk assessment must determine if this person is a high-risk for a money laundering or a terrorist activity financing offence. Should you determine that a domestic PEP, a HIO, or a family member or close associate of a domestic PEP or HIO is high risk, you must take reasonable measures to establish the source of the funds for the transaction and have senior management review the transaction.

You must consider that:

What could make a domestic PEP, a HIO, their family member, or close associates high-risk?

To determine the level of risk for a domestic PEP or HIO, or the family member or close associate of a domestic PEP or HIO, you should consider the same indicators you already use to assess all of your clients. However, additional indicators may include:

Should you determine that a domestic PEP, a HIO, their family member or close associate is not a high risk, FINTRAC's expectation is that you will document this assessment as it supports how you will consider that person going forward, as per your compliance program's risk-based approach.

The documenting of an assessment can be done on a case-by-case basis or you could bucket or group your clients into categories of risk and treat these clients accordingly. In the course of a FINTRAC examination, you may be asked to demonstrate why a person meets the criteria of a particular risk category, so as to explain the way you are treating that person.

How do I establish the source of funds?

You must use reasonable measures to establish the source of funds used for the transaction as part of your high-risk PEP and HIO obligations. For example, you could ask the person or refer to information available about the transaction. If you determine that the transaction activity is not in line with the information you have about the source of funds, one of the measures you may use is to follow up with the person to determine if there are reasons for that. If the information remains inconsistent with what you may know about the person or you are not satisfied with the person's response, and have reasonable grounds to suspect that the transaction is related to the commission or the attempted commission of a money laundering offence or of a terrorist activity offence, you must file a suspicious transaction report.

Who can review the transaction?

A member of senior management can review the transaction. A member of senior management means an individual who has:

If you are a sole proprietor with no employees, agents or other individuals authorized to act on your behalf, you are considered the senior manager.

Do I need to keep a record about the PEP, HIO, family member, or close associate?

Yes. You must keep a record after you determine that a person is a foreign PEP, a high-risk domestic PEP, a high-risk HIO, or the high-risk family member or high-risk close associate of any of these AND senior management has reviewed the transaction. The information you have to record includes:

You may also want to include in the record, the nature of the relationship between your client and the PEP or HIO, as applicable.

Retention: You must keep PEP and HIO account records for at least five years from the day the account to which they relate is closed.

Reasonable measures record

The regulations have been revised so that any time you are required to take reasonable measure you must keep a record if the reasonable measure was unsuccessful. A reasonable measure is unsuccessful when you do not obtain a response, such as a yes or no, so you are unable to make a conclusive determination. The record you need to keep for an unsuccessful reasonable measure must include:

Because the reasonable measures your organization takes must be outlined in your policies and procedures, this can form part of your unsuccessful reasonable measures record, or you could document, on a case-by-case basis, the measure taken in each record for unsuccessful reasonable measures.

For example you may document that you have an automated approach to run the names of persons who make a lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more against a commercial database that lists PEPs, HIOs, their family members and their associations. Similarly, your policies and procedures may indicate that you ask questions of any person who makes such a lump-sum payment. Since the reasonable measures your entity takes must be documented in your policies and procedures, this can form part of the record of unsuccessful reasonable measures. You then must document the reason why any reasonable measure was unsuccessful, and the date the reasonable measure was taken.

Should you take a measure that is not included in your policies and procedures, you would have to include details of that measure taken in your record of unsuccessful reasonable measures.

This obligation to document unsuccessful reasonable measures, however, applies to other obligations as well, such as establishing the source of funds.

Examples of documenting unsuccessful reasonable measures:

  1. If, when a lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more is made, to determine if the person was a PEP or HIO, you called the person who made the payment and the person did not call you back, then your record would need to indicate the measure you took, the date you did this and the fact that the client did not respond.
  2. If you ask a high-risk domestic PEP, who makes the lump-sum payment, to tell you the source of the funds for the transaction and the person does not want to specify the source, your record must indicate that you asked the person for the source of funds information, the date you did this and that the person refused to provide the information.

You have 30 days from the day of the transaction to take and document your reasonable measures.

There are two scenarios where you may want to consider an approach that allows you to clearly demonstrate that you are considering persons appropriately and in line with your compliance program's risk-based approach.

  1. The record-keeping obligations apply to unsuccessful reasonable measures. There is no requirement to keep a record if you determine that a person is a domestic PEP, HIO, their family member or close associate, and assess that person as low risk. However, during a FINTRAC examination, you may be asked to demonstrate that you conducted the risk assessment for a domestic PEP and HIO in accordance with your risk-based approach.
  2. If you receive a negative response to a reasonable measure taken to determine if a person is a PEP or HIO, or their family member or close associate, recording this response would show that a determination was carried out. During a FINTRAC examination, FINTRAC may ask you to demonstrate how you applied your policies and procedures for PEP or HIO obligations.

Examples of records you may consider keeping:

  1. If you asked the person making the lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more if they were a domestic PEP or HIO, or a family member or close associate of one, and the person answered "yes", but you assessed the person as a low risk, then your record could indicate that you asked the person, and that you assessed the person is a low risk.

  2. If you conducted an open source internet search and did not find any information to suggest that a person who made a lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more is a PEP or HIO, or a family member or close associate of one, then you could record the measure taken, and that the results did not suggest a PEP or HIO status for the person.

Risk-based approach considerations

You are already required to assess any potential threats and vulnerabilities to money laundering and terrorist financing to which your business is exposed.

As part of the overall assessment of client-risk you may want to consider offices or positions that are not prescribed to be those of a foreign or domestic PEP because you may deem these other offices or positions to also be vulnerable to being used for money laundering or the financing of terrorist activities.

You may also want to consider other international organizations, for example, organizations operating across multiple jurisdictions but not necessarily created by governments, if you think they could also be vulnerable to being used for money laundering or the financing of terrorist activities. Similarly, you are required to determine the head of an international organization, the primary person who leads that organization, but part of your risk assessment may indicate there are additional senior positions that you may want to consider because they also have the ability to make financial or contractual decisions for the entity.

As part of your risk assessment processes, you may determine that some individuals not prescribed as family members could be considered as a close associate of a PEP or HIO.

All of these considerations may impact the risk assessment of your client and serve to elevate the level of risk associated to that client.

Enhanced measures for high-risk clients

For high-risk clients, your compliance program must include enhanced measures to keep client identification information up to date and mitigate against the risks these high-risk clients may pose.

You could consider the following measures to monitor high-risk clients:

There are additional measures you can take to mitigate the risk of all high-risk clients, which can include:

Table 1 – Summary of PEP and HIO obligations
Triggering Activity Determination How a determination is made Obligations Record Keeping

Lump-sum payment of $100,000 or more

Foreign PEP

Take reasonable measures to determine if the person is a foreign PEP, or a family member or close associate of a foreign PEP.

If the determination is yes, you must carry out the associated obligations.

Action to take if a determination is made:

Take reasonable measures to establish the source of funds for the transaction.

Ensure that a member of senior management reviews the transaction.

You must record:

  • the office or position of the PEP or HIO;
  • the name of the organization or institution of the PEP or HIO;
  • the source of the funds, if known, that were used for the transaction;
  • the date you determined the individual to be a PEP, HIO, their family member or close associate;
  • the name of the member of senior management who reviewed the transaction; and
  • the date the transaction was reviewed.

You may also want to include the nature of the relationship between your client and the PEP or HIO, as applicable.

Domestic PEP or HIO

Take reasonable measures to determine if the person is a domestic PEP, a HIO, or their family member or close associate.

If the determination is yes, AND you assess the client as a high risk for a money laundering or terrorist financing offence, you must carry out the associated obligations.

Note: If you have made a successful determination for a PEP, HIO or their family member or close associate, you must complete the associated obligations within 30 days after the day of the transaction.

Note: A person determined to be a foreign PEP is forever a foreign PEP. A person ceases to be a domestic PEP 5 years after they have left the office. Once a person is no longer the head of an international organization, that person is no longer a HIO.

Annex A: Examples of international organizations and institutions established by international organizations

African Development Bank Group (Established by the Agreement Establishing the African Development Bank)

Arctic Council (Established by the Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council)

Asian Development Bank (Established by the Agreement Establishing the Asian Development Bank – ADB Charter)

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Established by the Asean Declaration)

Bank for International Settlements (Established by the Constituent Charter of the Bank for International Settlements)

Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (Established by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision Charter)

Caribbean Development Bank (Established by the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Development Bank)

Commonwealth (Established by the Balfour Declaration, Statute of Westminster and London Declaration)

Community of Democracies (Warsaw Declaration)

Council of Europe (Established by the European Convention on Human Rights)

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (Established by the Agreement Establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)

European Free Trade Association Secretariat (Established by the European Free Trade Agreement Convention)

European Space Agency (Established by the Convention for the establishment of a European Space Agency)

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) (Established by the Agreement Establishing the Inter-American Development Bank)

International Criminal Court (Established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court)

International Commission of Missing Persons (Established by the Agreement on the status and functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons)

International Criminal Police Organization (Established by the Constitution of the ICPO-INTERPOL)

International Energy Agency (Established by the Agreement on an International Energy Program)

International Energy Forum (Established by the International Energy Forum Charter)

International Joint Commission (Established by the Boundary Waters Treaty)

International Mobile Satellite Organization (Established by the Convention on the International Maritime Satellite Organization)

International Organization for Migration (Established by the Constitution of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration)

International Seabed Authority (Established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)

International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Established by the Agreement relating to the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (Established by the formal act of 1948 constituting the International Union for Protection of Nature)

La Francophonie (Established by the l'Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique (ACCT) Convention)

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (Established by the North Atlantic Treaty)

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (Established by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Convention)

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (Established by the Helsinki Final Act)

Organization of American States (Established by the Charter of the Organization of American States)

Permanent Court of Arbitration (Established under Article 20 of the 1899 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes)

World Customs Organization (Established by the Convention establishing a Customs Co-operation Council)

Examples of institutions established by international organizations

United Nations (Established by the Charter of the United Nations)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) established the:

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) established the:

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