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8 September 2021, 10:38


What is it and how is it useful?

Disclaimer: This blog is intended for educational purposes only. Please consult your regulating body for accurate, up-to-date information in your region.

What is SAR?

SAR is the shorthand of suspicious activity report – a report that must be submitted to relevant authorities if there is a case of suspected money laundering or fraud.  

In the United Kingdom, people working within the regulated sector are required by law to submit a SAR “if they know, or suspect… that a person is engaged in, or attempting, money laundering or terrorist financing” through their work according to the National Crime Agency 

However, you might be obligated to submit a SAR even if you are not working within the regulated sector or else you may be breaking the law. Seek legal advice independently or through your professional body if you are unsure.  

Submitting a SAR protects you, your organisation and UK financial institutions from the risk of laundering the proceeds of crime.

National Crime Agency

By submitting a SAR to the National Crime Agency, you will be complying with any potential obligations you have under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) in the United Kingdom. 

It is important to note that what is needed on SAR is different from territory to territory – and even from institution to institution, so be sure to be informed to be compliant with your perspective regulatory bodies. In addition, failure to report suspicious activities might lead to hefty fines, legal consequences affecting the institution, and even imprisonment.  

Why is SAR important?

It is your responsibility as a professional – and as a citizen – to report any suspicious activity. Doing your part will lower the chances of money laundering and terrorist financing offenses in our community, along with combatting other forms of consequential crimes.  

Submitting a SAR provides a defence against committing a money laundering offence.

National Crime Agency

It is imperative to report all suspicious activity to the relevant authorities to stay compliant, but also to have a record of all offenses. Doing so will document and bring forward the patterns of offenses that might be crucial to catching criminals 

How, when and to whom do I send SARs?

In the United Kingdom, SAR is made to The National Crime Agency through the SAR Online System 

You should make a SAR “as soon as you ‘know’ or ‘suspect’ that a person is engaged in money laundering or dealing in criminal property” according to the National Crime Agency.  

The quality of your SAR matters. Poor quality reports mean delays in processing and unnecessary issues when the case is taken to court. However, a high-quality SAR means fast-tracked processing of the report – and gives the Agency with adequate amount of information to make its decision to investigate the case or not.  

How do I submit a quality SAR?

When writing a SAR, include as much detail as you can – even if it seems irrelevant as it could become a valuable piece of information. 

If persons are concerned, be sure to include: 

    • full name 
    • date of birth 
    • nationality 
    • Address 
    • Identification document details 
    • Car registration details 
    • Telephone numbers 
    • Bank account details 
    • Occupation 

to avoid misidentification of people.  

Remember, missing or inaccurate information: 

  • Limits opportunities to pursue the case 
  • Has a negative impact on identifying the subjects involved  
  • Reduces the effectiveness of the SAR.

For more information, please consult UK Financial Intelligence Unit’s Guidance on Submitting Better Quality Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). 

UK Financial Intelligence Unit’s August Guide for SARs Reporters.

The UK Financial Intelligence Unit regularly releases resources related to reporting suspicious activity – one of its routine publications includes SARs Reporter Booklet, with its latest release being in August 2021.  

The SARs Reporter Booklets “have been instrumental in identifying sex offenders, fraud victims, murder suspects, missing persons, people traffickers, fugitives and terrorist financing.”  

The August 2021 SARs Reporter Booklet provides some of the best SAR examples UKFI have received. It also emphasizes the work of law enforcement agencies using SARs to start and continue investigating suspected crimes.  


With DX Compliance, SARs take minutes instead of close to an hour to complete. DX automates the SAR process, eliminating human error and ensuring that you are submitting high-quality SARs whilst always staying compliant.  

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