New SARs Glossary Code & Reporting Routes Guidance

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is the body to whom Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) are made and they publish useful guidance for IPs on SARs reporting. The NCA have just released a new SARs Glossary Code & Reporting Reports Guidance booklet which you can access here – this will be made available on the AML page of our website.

The key points from the updated guidance are:

  1. The use of glossary codes is considered good practice. They are crucial for enabling the UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU) and wider law enforcement to conduct analysis to identify money laundering trends, high risk cases for development and take immediate action where necessary. They also enable the production of feedback to reporters on trends and patterns identified in SARs.
  2. The SARs regime is not a route to report crime or matters relating to immediate risks to others. The SARs regime is for reporting knowledge or suspicions of money laundering, or belief or suspicions relating to terrorist financing. As such, in addition to a SAR, you may have to report the matter via other routes to ensure the right information gets to the right organisation. Where you do report a crime alongside a SAR, it will be good practice to include the crime reference and the organisation details in the SAR.
  3. When submitting a SAR, the relevant glossary code should be included in the ‘Reason for Suspicion’ text space (see SAR examples pages 21-27).
  4. It is acceptable to have a SAR with several codes (see example 6, page 27). If in doubt as to whether a particular code applies, always work on the basis that it is better to include one than not. When using multiple codes in a SAR, ensure you include a space between each code. It is also possible that a code does not match the set of circumstances faced by the reporter so in some cases it is acceptable that “no codes apply” be populated into the ‘Reason for Suspicion’ text space.

SARS reporting remains an important part of AML work and you need to ensure that you have a policy for your office on reporting suspicions to your MLRO, who is responsible for lodging SARs with the NCA. The timeliness and information on SARs reported to the NCA will remain a focus for the IPA on AML inspections and insolvency inspections. Please remember that your AML Supervisory authority has the power to review and consider SARs under Reg 66(1A) of the MLR 2017 (as amended).