Entity risk tagging

People, companies, vessels and securities in OpenSanctions are associated with various forms of business risk: they could be designated on a sanctions list, linked to a crime, or be subject to enhanced scrutiny because they hold public office.

In order to determine the nature of the risk linked to an entity in OpenSanctions, you can rely on various forms of tags that detail the reason for the entity's inclusion in the database. This page explains how to find what you are looking for, and make sense of what you find.


Topics are used to classify entities and indicate why they are included in a dataset. They can be used to determine the level and type of risk they represent. Some key topics include:

  • sanction: Sanctioned entities are companies, people or other things that have been designated by a government in order to prohibit specific interactions with them.
  • sanction.linked: Sanction-linked entities are companies, people or other things that have a direct relationship with a sanctioned entity. The topic also covers companies which are indirect subsidiaries of sanctioned entities, irrespective of the percentage ownership stake the sanctioned entity holds in the subsidiary.
  • debarment: Debarred entities are companies that have been excluded from public procurement, often because they previously committed fraud in their execution of a government contract.
  • role.pep: Politically exposed persons currently or previously held a position of political influence. We document our global coverage and data methodology regarding PEPs.
  • role.rca: Relatives and close associates are family members and key business associates of politically exposed persons. They are often used as nominees or front-people when a PEP attempts to hide illicit financial gains.
  • poi: Persons of interest are people where there is a public interest case for closer scrutiny, but who do not meet common definitions of a politically-exposed person and who are not sanctioned.

For a full list of topics, see the data dictionary.

Politically exposed persons

Politically-exposed persons can be sub-divided into different sub-types, depending on the level or branch of government they are active in. This information is also represented in OpenSanctions using topics. For more context on how we collect and structure PEP information, see our introduction page.

Topics linked to people

Basic information about a PEP position is represented on the Person entity itself:

  • All PEPs have the role.pep topic in their topics property.
  • All countries related to their PEP positions are added to their country property.

Topics linked to political positions

More detail is available about the positions. This can be used to exclude certain positions based on the risk policy of your use case. This data is applied consistently when available in structured form, so that the same policies can be applied across jurisdictions as needed.

A Person is used to describe the politician themselves. When using the nested entity representation in the OpenSanctions API or the targets.nested.json format, each person entity's positionOccupancies property refers to all the instances of this person occupying PEP positions.

The Occupancy entity creates a link between a person and the Position have held. Additionally, depending on available data, it includes:

  • startDate - when this person started occupying this position
  • endDate - when this person left the position
  • status - whether the position is currently occupied. See methodology and possible values.

The Position entity classifies the nature of the position itself. A position is always specific to a given jurisdiction, e.g. Member of parliament in India is distinct from the Member of parliament position in Kenya. Position entities are further classified by the following properties:

  • All countries related to a given position are added to the country property
  • When possible, the specific subnational area is indicated in the subnationalArea property for subnational and local positions.
  • Position entities have topics classifying the position according to the type and level of government they are linked to:
Key PEP categoriesRoleJurisdiction
National head of government, head of state (President, prime minister, queen)gov.headgov.national
National executive/cabinetgov.executivegov.national
National legislaturegov.legislativegov.national
National court judges, prosecutorsgov.judicialgov.national
Security and intelligence services including militaty, policegov.securitygov.national
Central Bank leadershipgov.financialgov.national
Diplomatic missionsrole.diplogov.national
Intergovernmental organizations generallygov.igo
e.g. Member of European Parliamentgov.legislativegov.igo
e.g. Member of Board of Governors of the World Bankgov.financialgov.igo
Regional/sub-national head of government (Governor, Premier)gov.headgov.state
Regional/sub-national executive/cabinetgov.executivegov.state
Regional/sub-national legislaturegov.legislativegov.state
Regional/sub-national court judgesgov.judicialgov.state
State-owned enterprises, public entities, agencies reporting to national governmentgov.soegov.national
State-owned enterprises, public entities, agencies reporting to regional governmentgov.soegov.state
Political party leadershippol.party
Local head of government (Mayor)gov.headgov.muni
Local executive (e.g. mayoral committee member)gov.executivegov.muni
Local legislaturegov.legislativegov.muni

The topic representing the greatest influence is used when a position might apply to multiple roles or jurisdictions, e.g. executive is used when both legislative and executive apply.