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Publication of the 2020 annual report on the Suspicious Activity Reports regime

The 2020 Suspicious Activity Report (SARs) Annual Report was published yesterday (19 November). Read the report.

The UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU) saw another record number of SARs, receiving and processing 573,085 (a 20% increase on the previous period of 478,437), with an 81% increase in requests for a defence against money laundering or terrorist finance (62,408).

The UKFIU continued its efforts to provide law enforcement agencies with focused asset recovery opportunities as a result of Defence Against Money Laundering (DAML) requests. Over the year £172m was denied to suspected criminals as a result of DAML requests – up 31% on the previous year’s £132m and over three times the £52m denied in 2017/18. More than £100m of this was in relation to cases where there was no previous or existing law enforcement investigation, showing the unique value added by the SARs regime.

These figures are not the totality of the law enforcement impact gained through SARs. The report includes, for example, details of an additional £56m that HMRC obtained through matching SARs with other data sets for criminal and civil intervention.

Assessment and fast-tracking of SARs to law enforcement agencies remained an important growth area for the UKFIU, which helps ensure maximum value of SARs intelligence is exploited. For example, the UKFIU disseminated 11,406 vulnerable person SARs, up 205% on the previous year, demonstrating that the value of SARs is more than just financial.

Analytical output this year increased in quantity and impact. The UKFIU delivered an increase in operational intelligence development and a greater cross matching of SARs. In March 2020 the UKFIU began producing a regular bulletin outlining the trends relating to COVID 19-related crime, drawn from its analysis of SAR reporting. This enabled collaboration with law enforcement, reporters and government departments to combat harmful crime and raise awareness.

The UKFIU also prioritised international work and analysis, for the first time co-leading on an Egmont Group project. The project was co-led with the Australian and Philippines financial intelligence units and focused on the financial flows associated with online child exploitation and abuse, and involved innovative data sharing with the private sector.


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