FCA: Surge in Number of Banks Filing Financial Crime Reports

FCA, suspicious activity reports, financial firms

Banks and other financial firms in the U.K. are filing more Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) than ever before, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) indicated in a press release emailed to PYMNTS on Monday (Nov. 1).

Filings have been going up year over year since 2017, according to the data disclosed in the report Financial Crime: Analysis of Firms’ 2017-2020 REP-CRIM Data. The overall increase was 16 percent from 2017-2020. The report was analyzed by a Parliament Street think tank which compared financial crime data return report (REP-CRIM) from over 2,300 different firms.

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Retail banking filed 804,105 SARS reports, comprising more than 78 percent of SARS reported internally and roughly 85 percent submitted externally to the National Crime Agency (NCA). The retail lending space filed the second-highest number of reports with 204,374. The third highest sector was wholesale financial markets at 12,062.

The next highest in descending order were retail investments, investment management, general insurance and protection and pensions and retirement income sectors, according to the release. These industries filed under 10,000 SARS combined.

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“Money laundering and other forms of financial crime present major challenges for banks, and this is an issue which has only been buoyed by the advent of widespread remote working and online banking systems. It is therefore absolutely essential that firms work closely with the FCA to openly and honestly report signs of illicit activity and work with them to take appropriate actions,” said Wayne Johnson, CEO and co-founder of Encompass Corporation.

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Many financial services firms struggle with implementing Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) solutions because it can be a “hugely challenging task costing time and resources,” Johnson said, adding that companies need to invest in the “necessary automated regulation technology due diligence on demand, collate critical documents and flag up potentially suspicious transactions.”