UK overhauls suspicious activity reporting system


In January 2019 the UK Home Office announced it would collaborate with France to overhaul its regime for suspicious activity reports in order to fight money laundering. In 2018, the number of SARs filed with the National Crime Agency rose by 10% to nearly 464,000. Banks, financial services, lawyers, accountants, and estate agents are all obliged to file SARs if they suspect a person or organisation is involved in money laundering, terrorist finance, or other suspicious activity. The system has been described as "completely disproportionate", as it generates a large volume of reports with limited or no intelligence value, leads to relatively few arrests (40, in 28 cases, retrieving £52 million) and compliance is complicated and expensive, while the penalties for not filing SARs are so severe that reporting officers file them just to safeguard their organisations against the risk of prosecution.

Writer: Barney Thompson

Publication: Financial Times

Publication date: 2019-01-28

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