SOCA have issued guidance on submission of a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) and the process of obtaining ‘consent’. This replaces all previous similar guidance issued by SOCA, including the Top Ten Tips documents. MLRO’s should add these documents to their libraries.
Guidance in Submitting a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) within the Regulated Sector takes users through the reporting requirements, highlighting the information that SOCA would like to receive. They state in the introduction that the guidance “seeks to provide advice and relay best practice when making a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR), a piece of information that alerts Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) that certain client/customer activity is in some way suspicious and might indicate money laundering or terrorist financing.”
It also has a section on SAR Online. This provides guidance on, and highlights the benefits of using, the secure webbased system to report. The benefits highlighted include that it will:
• provide you with an automated acknowledgement of receipt;
• help you structure your SAR in the most helpful way, thereby improving processing time in SOCA;
• give you the opportunity to flag the SAR as a consent issue.
The other guidance document Obtaining consent from SOCA under Part 7 of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002 or under Part III of the Terrorism Act (TACT) 2000 sets out the legislation on obtaining consent and the process for obtaining consent.
It highlights the framework stating:
“Under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002:
1. The decision as to whether or not to obtain consent will come up in any of the following scenarios:
(A) concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing criminal property – as defined in section 327 of POCA;
(B) facilitation of the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property by or behalf of another person – as defined in section 328 of POCA; or
(C) acquisition, use or possession of criminal property - as defined in section 329 of POCA.
2. The law refers to these acts as “prohibited acts”.
3. In any of these scenarios, you have two choices. You could choose not to go ahead with the activity in question; or you may choose to proceed. A decision to proceed will mean that you may be committing a money laundering offence. However, if you have made an authorised disclosure and have appropriate consent, you would not be committing an offence.
Under Part III of the Terrorism Act (TACT) 2000:
4. The decision as to whether or not to obtain consent will come up in any of
(A) fund-raising for the purposes of terrorism – as defined in section 15;
(B) use or possession of money or other property for the purposes of terrorism – as defined in section 16;
(C) making available money or other property for the purposes of terrorism – as defined in section 17; or
(D) facilitating the retention or control by or on behalf of another person of
terrorist property – as defined in section 18.”
The guidance goes on to stress that if you wish to apply to SOCA for a consent decision you should submit a SAR that provides appropriate information including:
• information which gives the grounds for your knowledge, suspicion or belief;
• a description of the property;
• a description of the prohibited act;
• the identity of the person or persons you know or suspect is involved in money laundering;
• the whereabouts of the property.
It also stresses that “you are strongly advised to make it explicit in your SAR that you are seeking consent from SOCA.”