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This SAR Has Been Sanitized.........

When I complete a SAR, it goes to our BSA compliance officer. The SAR is then edited and sent to FinCEN. It has come to my attention that the SAR does not bear the same content (and is not as informative for law enforcement) as the one I wrote. The edited version is not relayed to the writer and therefore when the FBI speaks to the writer, the information may not match what was in the SAR which can cause a conflict for the writer due to bank procedures allowing only what was in the SAR to be discussed with law enforcement. Can the bank get in trouble for sanitizing the SAR to the point where the information is barely useful?

Answer by Ryan Rasske: To the best of my knowledge, a bank has not been fined for an incomplete SAR narrative. However, with “defensive filing” becoming such a hot issue with FinCEN we may begin to see regulators criticizing poorly written SARs in the future. Based on the facts in your question, it is ultimately the BSA Officers responsibility to submit a SAR form that is complete, sufficient, and timely filed. Failing to file a detailed narrative will impact FinCEN’s and law enforcements ability to understand the issue. According to FinCEN’s guidance, each narrative should include the following elements:

  • Who is conducting the activity?
  • What instruments are being used to facilitate the suspect transaction?
  • When did the suspicious activity take place?
  • Where did the suspicious activity take place?
  • How did the suspicious activity occur?
  • Why does the filer think the activity is suspicious?You may want to share your concerns with the BSA Officer and contact him/her before speaking with law enforcement to make sure you understand the facts submitted in the final SAR.
  • Answer: 

    Answer by Jim Bedsole: I agree with Ryan. This is also addressed in the new BSA Examination Manual at page 48 and in Appendix L.

    First published on 1/2/06

    First published on 01/02/2006

    Filed under: 
    Filed under compliance as: 

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