FinCEN, bank and credit union regulators issue FAQs on SAR reporting, other AML considerations

Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to suspicious activity report (SAR) rules and other anti-money laundering (AML) considerations were issued jointly Monday by the four federal financial regulatory agencies.

The FAQs from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), Federal Reserve, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), are in response to recommendations of the Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group (BSAAG) noted in FinCEN’s September 2020 advance notice of proposed rulemaking on AML program effectiveness, the agencies said.

“The answers to these FAQs clarify the regulatory requirements related to SARs to assist such financial institutions with their compliance obligations, while enabling financial institutions to focus resources on activities that produce the greatest value to law enforcement agencies and other government users of Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reporting,” the agencies said. They do not alter existing BSA/AML legal or regulatory requirements, and do not establish new supervisory expectations, they said.

The FAQs address the following:

  • Requests by law enforcement for financial institutions to maintain accounts
  • Receipt of grand jury subpoenas/law enforcement inquiries and suspicious activity report (SAR) filing
  • Maintaining a customer relationship following the filing of a SAR or multiple SARs
  • SAR filing on negative news identified in media searches
  • SAR monitoring on multiple negative media alerts
  • Information in data fields and narrative
  • SAR character limits

The OCC distributed the FAQs with Bulletin 2021-4; and the FDIC sent them with a Financial Institution Letter. The NCUA also issued a release.

OCC Bulletin 2021-4

FDIC FIL-05-2021

NCUA release

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Suspicious Activity Reporting and Other Anti-Money Laundering Considerations

Reg lookup: Anti-Money Laundering Program Effectiveness