In the coming days thousands of the Latvians – clients of commercial banks – will receive via the online bank the luck chain letters from their dear credit institution. The banks start client surveying in accordance with the effective amendments to the law on the prevention of legalization of the proceeds from crime.
The adopted by the Parliament amendments to the law anticipate the introduction of a new term – ‘a politically exposed person’. The objective of the amendments is to identify ‘dirty’, suspicious transactions of civil servants of Latvia. Experience shows that throughout the world light-fingered politicians and civil servants implement their transactions through relatives and close friends. Therefore, the amendments that have come into force should help the banks to identify suspicious money transfers.
Surveying of all clients is just conducted to figure out among the banks’ clients the very same politically exposed persons (PEP) and their relatives.
According to the law, new clients of the banks shall have to complete questionnaires yet from 1st June, but those, who opened an account (accounts) with credit institutions a long time ago, shall have to complete the questionnaire from 1st December.
But the banks decided not to wait till summer and winter and ahead of time will inquire clients in written. Of course, those Latvians, who have subscribed to online banking, will have an opportunity to complete the questionnaire beforehand. All of the rest bank clients will complete the questionnaires when they come to the bank or via e-mail, if they have any. Everyone will have to remember whether there PEP representatives among their immediate families (spouses, children, sisters and brothers, parents and even grandchildren) and business partners.
Who are these PEP within the meaning of the law? They are the persons, who hold or used to hold until quite recently the posts of a prime-minister, minister, Secretary of the State and his/her deputy in the ministry, chairperson and his /her deputy in a municipality, as well as the heads of self-government committees, judge, military commander, chief executive of law enforcement agencies, parliamentary deputy.
According to forecasts of the Association of Commercial Banks, the circle of people, who are PEP or were connected to them, might appear quite spacious – up to 200 thousand people.
Of course, this will be the hellish toil for the banks: not just to process the received questionnaires, but on the basis of information received to trace all doubtful, suspicious transactions of those clients, who either refer to PEP or are connected to PEP. According to the law, if the banks wring out suspicious transactions, then they will have to report to the competent authorities. In any other cases, the credit institutions promise to protect banking secrecy.