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Frozen bank accounts and Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs)
Increasingly the bank accounts of individuals, businesses and companies are frozen by banks and financial institutions after they have submitted a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to the National Crime Agency.
The financial institutions must file a SAR to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the National Crime Agency (NCA) whenever there is a suspected case of money laundering or fraud. These reports are tools to help monitor any activity within finance-related industries that is deemed out of the ordinary, a precursor of illegal activity, or might threaten public safety.
SARs are not a new phenomenon and originally arose from the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) of 1970 (originally called a ‘criminal referral form’ the SAR became the standard form to report suspicious activity in 1996). However, due to recent bad publicity and sanctions being imposed by the authorities against financial institutions, SARs are increasingly submitted even in respect of relatively small transactions.
Because a bank is prevented by law from informing the account holder of the submission of an SAR whilst the investigatory agency considers the SAR, the account holder will usually know nothing of what has occurred until they find they are unable to operate the account.
Within 14 days the NCA must decide whether to take any further action as a result of the SAR (“the moratorium period”). Often applications will be made to the Crown Court for an extension to the moratorium period for an initial 31 days, with a maximum extension of 186 days. The account holders are required to be provided with at least 2 days’ notice of any application for an extension.
The effect on businesses and individuals of accounts being frozen is obviously serious. From initial correspondence with the Bank, to advising and contesting on any NCA applications for moratorium extension Janes Solicitors are expert lawyers in the field of frozen bank accounts and SARs. We take a proactive approach of communicating effectively on our clients with banks and have achieved notable successes in obtaining the release of funds and unfreezing of accounts. If you or your business have been affected by a frozen bank account or suspicious activity report, contact our expert lawyers today.
Contact one of our experts on frozen bank accounts and Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs)
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