Fraser Nelson: ignorance and paranoia, in one simple package


As part of our implementation of FSA guidelines around Anti-Money Laundering activities, we introduced questions on Politically Exposed Persons as part of our account opening procedures.

Genius financial columnist Nelson:

what on earth is a Politically Exposed Person?

The FSA anti-money-laundering guidelines, which have been in force for three years:

customers who, by virtue of their position in public life, are vulnerable to corruption

This isn’t earth-shattering stuff; any professional or financial services firm has to ask those questions of its clients, and RBS would be remiss for not doing so. Taking UK political party membership as an indication of PEP status was technically incorrect, but fair enough I reckon – if you’re a member of a UK political party, you’re either corrupt, stupid or massively over-optimistic…

Nelson then goes off into an insanely paranoid rant about banks asking people whether they occupy any political offices. Oh noes! A majority-government-owned institution is asking me whether I’m a political party member. The gulags surely do beckon…

If you’re worried about this, you’re a moron.

13 thoughts on “Fraser Nelson: ignorance and paranoia, in one simple package

  1. Desperately trying not to be moronic, but why exactly does the bank want to know if borrowers are a member of a political party?

    Are Lib Dem'rs more or less likely to service their loans, or maybe the average Tory is likely to skip the country and live it up in Brazil?

    Just askin'…

  2. It needs to know if you're, legally, a Politically Exposed Person. Someone cocked up and thought that this meant active political party members, rather than the fairly narrow 'third world dictators' category it actually involves.

  3. From what I remember of PEPs from the training I had to do at one of the Big Four, the basic definition was effectively 'would we look like mercenary money-grabbing pricks if it came up in Private Eye?'

  4. No implication or sub-text is to be read into the above comment as to whether the Big Four are mercenary money-grabbing pricks or not.

  5. It possibly indicates my own obsession when I assumed Big Four meant the GWR, SR, LMS and LNER.

    I'm glad they're still around and grounding people in avoiding corruption, mind you.

  6. Oddly enough, modern accountancy was invented, and the big firms were created, to deal with the accounts of the Victorian railway companies: see William Deloitte, the first ever statutory auditor of a plc – the Great Western Railway.

    Mr Deloitte, of course, went on to found the firm that became, err, PwC (100% pure truth).

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