Making a SAR and obtaining a defence or consent

The following Risk & Compliance practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Making a SAR and obtaining a defence or consent
  • NCA statistics
  • The defence (consent) regime
  • Asking further questions
  • Concern
  • Suspicion
  • Submitting a SAR
  • Subject of the SAR
  • Criminal property
  • Details of the transaction
  • More...

Making a SAR and obtaining a defence or consent

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 2002) and the Terrorism Act 2000 (TA 2000) impose obligations to report knowledge or suspicions of money laundering and terrorist financing to the National Crime Agency (NCA) by way of a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). There are heavy criminal sanctions for failing to do so.

A SAR can be:

  1. an internal SAR to the organisation's nominated officer, or

  2. an external SAR to the NCA

This Practice Note contains practical guidance for the nominated officer on making an external SAR to the NCA and securing a defence for or consent to carrying out a prohibited act (ie continue with the matter that you know or suspect involves money laundering or terrorist financing). See also Practice Note: Reporting suspicions of money laundering for more detailed information on the law relating to the SARs regime.

This Practice Note provides guidance which is of general application. You should check whether the law or your regulatory body has any additional, sector specific requirements in relation to making a SAR and obtaining a defence or consent.

NCA statistics

The NCA's SARs Annual Report 2019 was published in November 2019 and covers the period April 2018 to March 2019. It reveals a number of key findings:

  1. the NCA received 573,085 SARs

  2. consent was sought in 61,978 SARs relating to money laundering,

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