Quick Answer

“Politically exposed persons”: who are they and how can they get a second citizenship?

The PEP status, or the one of a politically exposed person, is associated with civil servants and senior executives at the national or international level.

Who are “politically exposed persons”, PEPs?

When obtaining a second citizenship, politically exposed persons undergo a stricter Due Diligence check than other applicants. The risk of rejection remains high even in the case of an ideal reputation and no criminal record. 

Learn how a politically exposed person can pass Due Diligence and get a second passport by investment.

Who can be called a politically exposed person?

A joint definition of politically exposed persons does not exist in international practice. The most commonly used terminology is the one of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF): politically exposed persons are at high risk of engaging in money laundering and terrorist financing.  

The FATF distinguishes four categories of politically exposed persons

  1. Foreign and national politically exposed persons: persons who hold or have held high government positions. For example, heads of state and government and their deputies, members of government and parliament, heads of state or judicial authorities, senior military officers, senior managers in state-owned companies, political party leaders, ambassadors and diplomats.
  2. Politically exposed persons in international organizations, such as senior executives or employees with similar leadership responsibilities, e.g. directors, deputy directors and members of the board.
  3. Family members of politically exposed persons include spouses and blood relatives: parents, grandparents, siblings and children. Adoptive parents, guardians and adopted children are also taken into account.
  4. Partners and associates of a politically exposed person are persons who are closely associated with a politically exposed person on a personal or professional level. The list includes co-owners of the business and ultimate owners of the company of a politically exposed person.

The FATF definition of politically exposed persons is used by all members of the organization. In 2022, it includes 37 states, the European Commission and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. 

Some states establish the definition of a politically exposed person at the legislative level. For example, in the UK, the term is enshrined in section 35(12) of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017.

Which of the PEPs are prohibited from having a second citizenship?

Having a second passport may be prohibited for:

  • employees with access to state secrets;
  • military officers and contract servicemen;
  • employees of law enforcement agencies, for example, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Customs Service, the Ministry of Emergency Situations;
  • employees of state enterprises.

When employed in the civil service or during official verification, such employees may need a certificate of absence of a second citizenship. 

How can a PEP pass a Due Diligence check for second citizenship?

If a PEP is no longer in public service, they may apply for a second citizenship. To get a passport by investment, they will need to pass a Due Diligence check. To do this, they need to confirm the absence of a criminal record and the legality of income sources.

In the case of politically exposed persons, there is a nuance. The money for the citizenship investment must come from sources unrelated to the public office held. For example, income received from their own legal business a few years after the end of the civil service.

Pavel Reshetnikov,
Consultant, Compliance Anti Money Laundering Officer

The applicant for citizenship must confirm that the money for the investment was received before or after he was in the civil service. The following are accepted as confirmation:

  • statements on bank accounts for reporting periods;
  • statement of income and expenses;
  • certificate of income and paid taxes.
How a former civil servant obtained St. Lucia citizenship by investment

In the past, Semyon worked as a judge for seven years, which is why he fell under the category of politically exposed persons. But in recent years, he was not in the civil service, and earned money for the investment as a legal consultant in a private company. To obtain a second citizenship, Semyon confirmed the sources of income documented. Immigrant Invest’s lawyers also prepared an affidavit explaining the investor’s situation. Semyon successfully passed Due Diligence and received a passport from the Caribbean country of Saint Lucia.

The full story

Where can a former PEP obtain citizenship by investments?

Malta allows individuals to obtain citizenship by naturalization for exceptional services by direct investment. The applicant first obtains a residence permit and passes a strict check, the Eligibility Test. If the investor passes the check and gets approval, one or three years after the residence permit, he can apply for citizenship.

The minimum amount of investment in the economy of Malta will be €690,000. The amount includes a contribution to the state fund, rental housing and a charitable contribution. The investor also pays Due Diligence fee and the fee for issuing ID-cards.

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

Caribbean countries grant citizenship for investments from $100,000. Investors make non-refundable contributions to state funds, buy real estate and government bonds, and invest in businesses.

$100,000
minimum investment to obtain Caribbean citizenship

State citizenship programs operate in five Caribbean countries: Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Lucia citizenship by investment.

Individual cost calculation of the Caribbean passport

Vanuatu is an island state in Oceania that also grants citizenship by investment under the state program. To get the Vanuatu citizenship by investment, an investor makes a non-refundable contribution to the state fund in the amount of $130,000 or more. In 2021, a new investment option appeared: a purchase of real estate on the island.

Individual cost calculation of the Vanuatu citizenship

Frequently asked questions

Who are the “politically exposed persons”, or PEPs?

Civil servants and senior executives, such as presidents, leaders of political parties, judges, heads of state-owned enterprises, top managers of international companies. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) also lists family members and business associates of government officials and executives as politically exposed persons.

Can a PEP get a second citizenship?

Yes, if the money for the investment comes from sources unrelated to the public position held. The sources of income are to be documentally proved.

Is there a limitation period on holding office and on the status of a politically exposed person?

No. All positions which a person has occupied throughout life are taken into account during Due Diligence. All sources of income are also taken into account.

“Politically exposed persons”: who are they and how can they get a second citizenship?

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