SOCA set to kick SARs into shape

LONDON – The much-criticised suspicious activity report (SAR) regime in the UK will be overhauled once the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is created, according to Paul Evans, director of intervention at the about-to-be-born organisation. He added that Philip Robinson, the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) sector leader for financial crime "and I have decided as one that we are going to change the nature of" SAR reporting.

Evans was speaking at a London conference on financial crime and money laundering in mid-June. He said the point of such changes would be to "operationalise SARs" to help law enforcement "do more with the information" firms provide, and that SOCA would work with the FSA, the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group, and the Money Laundering Advisory Group to develop the new reporting framework.

The SAR programme in the UK has been criticised by financial services firms as overly burdensome, and a report in 2003 by KPMG noted that the agency that currently vets the thousands of documents – the National Crime Intelligence Service (NCIS) – was riddled with inefficiencies and lacked resources to make proper use of the information firms were handing over.

SOCA's formation of was announced in February 2004 by the UK Home Office, and it is expected to be operational in April 2006. OpRisk

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