Magazine article American Banker

Explanations Sought on SAR Plan

Magazine article American Banker

Explanations Sought on SAR Plan

Article excerpt

Bankers and their trade groups are asking federal regulators to clarify an interagency plan to streamline suspicious activity reporting and make it more useful to law enforcement officials.

The industry has four main concerns with the Feb. 17 proposal: how to file jointly; how to better explain suspicious activity; how electronic filings can be enhanced; and how the government is calculating the time burden of filing suspicious activity reports.

In comment letters to the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the banking, thrift, and credit union regulators, bankers asked a slew of questions about joint filings, including who would be responsible for maintaining records.

"MidFirst is concerned that existing prohibitions on sharing of SAR-related information with third parties actually prevent such joint filing to occur," wrote Charles Lee, a vice president and director of bank administration at MidFirst Bank in Oklahoma City.

Fincen should provide "specific examples of the types of situations in which a joint filing might be warranted as well as specific confirmation that such a joint filing would not adversely affect the safe harbor provisions for the institutions reporting in a joint manner," he wrote.

The American Bankers Association asked Fincen to say that parties that have no corporate connection may file joint reports.

"It is unclear to many ABA members that joint filing would be available to non-affiliated reporters, since there seems to be no ability for them to file jointly without sharing the fact that each is filing a SAR," Richard Riese, the director of the ABA's Center for Regulatory Compliance, wrote in the trade group's comment letter.

America's Community Bankers complained that even though Fincen is asking for more details in the narrative part of the reports, it has not specified what information would be useful to law enforcement officials. …

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