There has been a lot in the news recently about passports, and I realised that although I of course understand the basics of the document, there are certain key things that I do not know – and knowing them would help be more efficient in my fight against money laundering. And the most important of these is the concept of dual (or even multiple) nationality.
In the UK, we permit our citizens to have dual nationality – to hold a British passport alongside another one. But it has to be agreed by both countries, and keeping track of who they are is quite the job of work. Exactly half of the 28 EU member states restrict or forbid dual nationality; it’s an imperfect check, but the best quick source I have found is this Wikipedia page. Issues of nationality are rarely simple, of course: nationality can be conferred by parental nationality or place of birth or marriage or religion, and that’s just for starters. Multiply it up, and you get all sorts of interesting variants. In Australia and Egypt, for instance, dual citizens are permitted, but then cannot be elected to parliament. (I guess they figure that if you’re hedging your bets passport-wise, you might not be quite committed enough to serve full-heartedly.) Spain has dual citizenship treaties with several South American countries, but when it comes to taking on dual citizenship with other countries, you automatically lose your Spanish citizenship after three years unless you say that you want to keep it. South Korea permits dual citizenship to a limited number of people. All very complicated, but much more common than I had realised – I feel quite left out with my one measly passport.
For the MLRO and his staff, I think it is useful to know when they are dealing with someone who might be offering only one of a pair (or even suite) of passports when asked for identification verification. After all, the non-presented passport(s) might reveal much more pertinent information when it comes to risk assessment. So when dealing with someone who could have more than one passport (including, we now know, all British citizens), it might be worth asking (especially in high risk situations) whether they have any others.