Lesson Three – Suspicious Activity Reports

This lesson discusses the requirements of filing a SAR.

The BSA regulation requires reporting of suspicious activity, including but not limited to fraudulent attempts to obtain a mortgage or launder money by use of the proceeds of other crimes to purchase residential real estate.

This means that within 30 days after a company becomes aware of a suspicious transaction, the company must report the transaction by completing a SAR and filing it with FinCEN. A SAR, and information that would reveal the existence of that SAR, must be kept confidential and not be disclosed except as authorized to fulfill official duties. All copies of supporting documentation must also be kept and recorded.

SARs Reporting Requirements

A company must file the SAR within 30 days of the date the transaction is determined to be suspicious. The company must contact law enforcement in situations that may require immediate attention, such as ongoing money laundering schemes. Companies must maintain copies of SAR and documents for a period of five years after filing. Law enforcement agencies are entitled to access these records on request, without having to get a subpoena.

SAR Confidentiality

SARs are confidential and are not to be copied or duplicated and are only to be shared with company personnel that have a need to know. All requests for SARs or SAR information should be referred immediately to the AML Compliance Officer. The AML Compliance Officer can coordinate responses with appropriate personnel. If the company or any of its employees is subpoenaed or otherwise requested to disclose a SAR or the information contained in a SAR, that request must be declined and no information regarding that SAR can be disclosed, including the fact that a SAR has been prepared or filed. The company must cite this restriction under 31 C.F.R. § 1029.320 and 31 USC 5318(g), and notify FinCEN.