UK financial intelligence unit annual report – SAR filing overview

The National Crime Agency (NCA) published its annual report for the year ending 2020. Compared to previous year, the increase in number of SAR (Suspicious Activities Report) is 20%. During 2019-2020, UK FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) has collaborated well with partners including private sector to upgrade SAR reporting. It has also conducted several workshops  and each law enforcement body and government authority having access to SAR s were given ample opportunities to participate in the workshops and they got benefited.

UKFIU analysed the database of the SAR s filed. It is found that the SARs filed by fintech companies have seen a significant growth in comparison with previous year. Out of the total increase in overall SARs, 64% has been contributed by fintech companies. Initial investigations of the SAR analysis focused on the involvement of young money mules. These accounts were used both to send and receive funds and even children’s accounts were exploited. UKFIU has referred the matter to the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) for further assessment.

SAR filing plays a pivotal role in investigation of a money laundering probe. It portrays the relationship revolving around the suspects and their suspicious financial activities. Arrests have been made. Items have been confiscated and enquiries are advanced by the law enforcement agencies. As part of strengthening the SAR framework, SAR working groups have been formed which are challenger bank group; a crypto currency group, and a group for Payment Service Providers, E-money, Fincrime and Fintech Financial Services.

UKFIU magazine “SARs in action” was made available through the NCA website with an objective to educate the financial institutions and law enforcement agencies globally on the issues concerning exploitation of financial intelligence to assist in combating/detecting/preventing financial crime. Financial experts predict that the upcoming year 2020-2021 would be challenging for UKFIU and other such intelligence units due to the pandemic and UKFIU further predicts that the volumes of SAR s filed for the next year would witness a significant rise. UKFIU has already begun to restructure its IT framework to cope up with the enormous SAR volumes.


Author: Rajashree, MBA, CAMI

(PonSun AML Academy)