Suspicious Activity Report (banking) - Reporting


SARs include detailed information about transactions that are or appear to be suspicious. The goal of SAR filings is to help the Federal government identify individuals, groups and organizations involved in fraud, terrorist financing, money laundering, and other crimes.

The purpose of a suspicious activity report is to report known or suspected violations of law or suspicious activity observed by financial institutions subject to the regulations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). In many instances, SARs have been instrumental in enabling law enforcement to initiate or supplement major money laundering or terrorist financing investigations and other criminal cases. Information provided in SAR forms also presents FinCEN with a method of identifying emerging trends and patterns associated with financial crimes. The information about those trends and patterns is vital to law enforcement agencies and provides valuable feedback to financial institutions.

FinCEN requires a SAR to be filed by a financial institution when the financial institution suspects insider abuse by an employee; violations of law aggregating over $5,000 where a subject can be identified; violations of law aggregating over $25,000 regardless of a potential subject; transactions aggregating $5,000 or more that involve potential money laundering or violations of the Bank Secrecy Act; computer intrusion; or when a financial institution knows that a customer is operating as an unlicensed money services business.

Each SAR must be filed within 30 days of the initial determination for the necessity of filing the report. An extension of 30 days can be obtained if the identity of the person conducting the suspicious activity is not known; however, at no time should an SAR be delayed longer than 60 days. The Bank Secrecy Act specifies that each firm must maintain SARs for a period of five years from the date of filing.

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