On 19 November 2020, the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU) published their 2020 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) Annual Report. The Report provides that:

  1. Between April 2019 and March 2020, the UKFIU received a record number of SARs: 573,085 SARs were submitted, which is almost a 20% increase on the previous year.
  2. Significantly, requests for a Defence Against Money Laundering (DAML) increased by 81% year on year, with a total of 62,408 requests made in the year to March 2020. DAML requests are made to the NCA where a reporter has a suspicion that property they intend to deal with (or facilitate such dealing by another person) is the proceeds of crime.
  3. The DAML requests resulted in approximately £172 million being denied to those suspected of money laundering, an increase of 31% compared to the previous year. A majority of this amount, over £100 million, was related to cases into which there was no law enforcement investigation, either previous or ongoing.

These statistics show the importance of the SARs regime in providing information to UK authorities, despite recent criticism. The significant increase in DAML requests reflects an increased awareness of money laundering risks and understanding of the breadth of the substantive money laundering offences.

The authors would like to thank Fran Garvey, trainee, for her assistance in preparing this blog post.