With a 21 percent increase in reports of suspicious activity in 2017, Britain is getting close to its annual goal of 1 million SARs.
Another record was achieved in the most recent fiscal year, according to the annual report from the National Crime Agency, which houses the UK's FIU, with 901,255 SARs.
The NCA reported that it denied £305.7 million to suspected criminals after in Defence Against Money Laundering (DAML) requests, an increase of 120.6 percent over the £138.6 million denied in 2020–21.
According to the agency, "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."
The NCA continued, "More recently, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, SARs have provided increasingly important information on money laundering linked to sanctioned individuals and their associated entities."
Since the last report, the UKFIU has undergone a considerable transition as part of the SARs Reform Project, adding new teams and methods. In order to support enhanced analysis and involvement within the SARs regime, this has included an increase in staff to over 150, and steps are being taken to attain the goal of 201 by the end of the next fiscal year.
"SARs are vital to the fight against money laundering, illicit finance and wider criminality," according to Vince O'Brien, head of the UKFIU.
"Major improvements to the UKFIU through the SARs Reform Project, including the establishment of dedicated analytical teams to support specific operational requirements such as those of the Combatting Kleptocracy Cell, and further enhancements rolling out over the next 24 months, will ensure we maximise the intelligence value derived from SARs," he continued.
The NCA established the new Combatting Kleptocracy Cell (CKC) in 2022, whose mandate includes looking into high-end money laundering and criminal sanctions evasion.
People who work in regulated industries including banking, law, and financial services who have reason to believe that certain transactions are being used to launder money or hide illegal activities file SARs to the NCA.
The UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU), which receives, processes, and evaluates SARs on behalf of the NCA, now has a dedicated staff to work as part of the CKC. SARs are a significant element of the information entering the cell.
By fLEXI tEAM