The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced the scope of its review into the treatment of U.K.-based politically exposed persons (PEPs), the latest development in response to the Nigel Farage “debanking” scandal.
The review “will look carefully at firms’ arrangements for dealing with PEPs based in the U.K.,” said the FCA in a press release Tuesday. The regulator on Aug. 15 issued a statement requesting PEPs share their experiences dealing with financial services firms.
Debanking has been a hot topic in the United Kingdom following the controversial decision by NatWest to close the accounts of Farage, a politician who said the move was made because his right-wing political views. The bank’s handling of the matter—which included its chief executive officer admitting to discussing details regarding Farage with a BBC reporter—earned it significant criticism among lawmakers. The CEO stepped down in July.
The FCA’s review will focus on how firms:
- Apply the definition of PEP to individuals;
- Conduct risk assessments of PEPs and their family members and associates;
- Apply enhanced due diligence and ongoing monitoring to PEPs;
- Decide to reject or close accounts for PEPs;
- Communicate with PEP customers; and
- Ensure their PEP controls remain appropriate.
The FCA acknowledged it can’t change the laws regarding PEPs but it will “take prompt action if any significant deficiencies are identified in the arrangements of any firm assessed.”
The review is set to be completed by June 2024.
“These (PEP) rules follow international standards and are designed to keep the financial system clean, free from corruption, and guard against financial crime,” said Sarah Pritchard, executive director of markets at the FCA, in the release. “It’s important that they are implemented proportionately and don’t create unnecessary barriers for public servants and their families. We have already persuaded some firms to improve their approach, and we will use this review to identify if we need to provide further guidance to firms.”