How to Report Suspicious Financial Activity

suspicious activity

Money laundering is a huge problem worldwide. You may not see the UK as a particularly corrupt country, but the amount of money laundered through the UK every year is currently estimated to be £48 billion, that’s 2% of our total GDP. The HMRC have specific Money Laundering Regulations (2008) in place, which regulate how businesses (particularly those in industries without professional supervisory bodies like the Law Society) operate internally – focusing on minimising the risk of money laundering. Estate agents, financial service providers (think Wonga etc), accountants and those involved in offering credit are all subject to strict anti-money laundering regulations.

One of the conditions of these regulations is that a nominated officer within a business must be responsible for checking and confirming the identities of, not only clients and customers, but also that of ‘beneficial owners’ of partnerships or corporate bodies. One good way to undertake this crucial task is to use a free company checker tool. These services provide detailed, official information about chief officers of companies, their key financials, any signs of legal issues, registered addresses, insolvencies and more. Armed with these facts and figures, nominated officers can then work to identify discrepancies or details which don’t quite add up.

But what if you suspect something untoward is going on with a customer or a beneficial owner?

Reporting suspicious activity

If you suspect that suspicious financial activity is taking place, you must report it to your company’s nominated officer, who will review your information and decide whether or not to take the issue forward. If the nominated officer believes your concerns are warranted, their next step will be to report to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in the form of an SAR (Suspicious Activity Report).

What if you are processing a transaction?

If you are close to processing the suspicious transaction, it is important to continue as usual so as not to arouse suspicion or alarm. If you have time, notify SOCA and seek consent before continuing with the suspicious transaction. If you do not have time and are not able to delay the transaction without arousing suspicion, go ahead with it, but ensure you inform SOCA of the situation, the steps you have taken and why you were unable to wait for consent in your SAR (Suspicious Activity Report)

How to contact SOCA

There are a number of ways you can bring suspicious activity to the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s (SOCA’s) attention. The fastest and most efficient route is to submit your SAR online via the NCA system. This is also the fastest way to get consent to proceed with a suspicious transaction. There is substantial registration process to go through with this system, but it is the best way to submit your SAR (Suspicious Activity Report). You may also:

Fax SOCA your report: 0207 238 8286

Submit your report by post:

PO Box 8000,


SE11 5EN


Telephone SOCA for a copy of your report: 0207 238 8282  (Option 2)

Have you ever been involved in submitting a SAR? Do you have any guidance you can share with our readers? Leave your tips and experiences in the comment section below.

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