UK financial crime: Almost half a million suspicious activity reports filed
21 Dec 2018

The number of suspicious activity reports (SARS) received by the UK Financial Intelligence Unit edged up to almost half a million in the year, placing increased demand on the unit in terms of volume and complexity, the UK’s financial crime boss said in the latest National Crime Agency SARS report.

The FIU received 463,938 SARs between April 2017 to March 2018, a 9.60% increase on 2016-17’s figure of 423,304.

SARs filed for a defence against money laundering (DAML) reached 22,619, which resulted in a total of £51,907,067 being denied to criminals. The DAML figure is up 20% on the previous year’s 18,849.

National Crime Agency Prosperity Director Donald Toon said: “Throughout the year the UKFIU has improved its internal processes to make the current regime more effective and better able to achieve operational outcomes.

“The regular meetings of the NCA Banking, Legal and Accountancy Engagement Groups have improved partnership working and resulted in more focused guidance for the sectors and promoted a better understanding of the issues and concerns around the submitting of SARs.”

Figures indicate that one of the areas that kept the unit busy were matters pertaining to politically exposed persons (PEPs). According to the report, the FIU read and triaged 26,667 potential PEP SARs, which was a 38% rise, and disseminated 1,419 PEP SARs, a 65% increase.

As usual, the highest number of SARS came from the banking sector – 371,522 or 80% of the total SARS filed – making it a 6% rise from the previous year. There was also 32% a rise in the number of SARs from the real estate sector which filed 710.

Meanwhile the number of SARS filed by independent legal professionals and trust or company service providers dropped by 11% and 26% respectively.

The UK’s SARs regime is currently undergoing a reform programme, aimed at addressing challenges faced.

“Over the year the UKFIU will continue to support the Home Office SARs Reform Programme. In support of the Programme, the NCA has agreed to manage the IT Replacement and Enabled Business Change Project,” the report stated.

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