The NCA has recently warned that some city institutions are abusing the system for reporting suspicious activity, with an increased burden of work for the NCA, reports the Financial Times.
Entities acting within a “regulated profession” are under a duty to report suspicious activity relating to money-laundering. They do this through providing a suspicious activity report (SAR) to the NCA. Of the 350,000 SARS filed per year, over 14,000 are requests for consent to a risky transaction. If the NCA provides its consent, provided the correct procedure has been followed, the company will be protected if a money laundering offence is subsequently discovered to have been committed.
The NCA is, however, obliged to respond to any SAR within seven days. As the number of consent requests increases, so too do the resources the NCA has to dedicate to responding to SARs, which often involve time-consuming checks.
There is a current Home Office review of the SAR regime, following on from Transparency International’s appeal for reform. It may be that, going forward, companies themselves will have to prove the legitimacy of funds, rather than rely upon the NCA.