Banks filed record number of SARs last year, Russian sanctions a factor

Banks are providing by far the greatest number of suspicious activity reports (SARS) to the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) according its latest report which features statistics covering the years 2020-21 and 2021-22.

The agency’s 2022 Suspicious Activity Report (SARs) Annual Report also shows that a new record was set in the last financial year, with the NCA receiving and processing 901,255 SARs, a 21 per cent increase on the previous year.

Financial sector reporting

While SARs are submitted to the NCA by individuals working in several types of regulated businesses, including accountants, tax advisers and legal professionals, the vast majority of reports are submitted by financial institutions.

Banks submitted 637,776 or 71 per cent of all SARS received by the NCA in 2021-22, reporting nearly 16 per cent more suspicious transactions than they did in the previous year.

Other financial institutions filing significant numbers of SARS include building societies and money service businesses.

Invaluable information

The financial and predicate crimes intelligence provided by SARs has proved to be invaluable as criminals sought to take advantage of the pandemic to advance their illicit enterprises according to the report.

More recently, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the agency says SARs have provided increasingly important information on money laundering linked to sanctioned individuals and their associated entities.

DAML requests

The report also shows £306 million (US$377 million) was denied to suspected criminals as a result of Defence Against Money Laundering (DAML) requests, a 121 per cent increase on the £138.6 million denied in 2020-21.

A DAML can be requested from the NCA where a reporter has a suspicion that property they intend to deal with is in some way criminal, and that by dealing with it they risk committing one of the principal money laundering offences under UK legislation.

The NCA’s Suspicious Activity Report (SARs) Annual Report 2022 can be found here.


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