SAR Writing Checklist: The Elements of an Effective Suspicious Activity Report Narrative

Essential Steps to an Informed, Compelling Narrative 

Suspicious activity report (SAR) writing and filing is arguably one of the most important responsibilities of financial crimes professionals. With nearly 3 million SARs filed in 2019, BSA/AML departments must capture these critical elements to ensure their SARs catch the attention of – and fully inform – law enforcementThis requires professionals to be concise, thorough, and accurate while telling the story. To make sure your SARs are read, ensure that the following elements are accounted for.

 

Opening paragraph meets procedural guidelines:

  • Clear summary of activity – including who, what, when, why, and how the suspicious activity took place
  • What and why should be included in the opening paragraph

Critical SAR elements are addressed:

  • Ensure all critical fields are correct including, but not limited to, the financial institution the suspicious activity occurred, the subject of the suspicious activity, and the amount involved in the suspicious activity. 

Details of suspicious activity are detailed:

  • WHO - You must know the subject(s), occupation(s)/line of business(es), account #(s), type of account(s), and additional addresses (if applicable).
  • WHAT - Communicate the mechanisms used for activity, type of suspicious activity, transaction amounts involved, and sources/use of funds.
  • WHEN - Review date range(s) for SAR  and the date range(s) of activity...

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About this Checklist

Suspicious activity report (SAR) writing and filing is arguably one of the most important responsibilities of financial crimes professionals. With nearly 3 million SARs filed in 2019, BSA/AML departments must capture these critical elements to ensure their SARs catch the attention of law enforcement. BSA Officers can leverage this SAR Writing Checklist to ensure they have incorporated the key items law enforcement is looking for in a quality SAR.

Download this checklist for:

  • Essential elements to include in each SAR
  • Key components of a compelling narrative
  • Other critical details that must be addressed

Be sure to watch the complimentary Abrigo webinar, “SAR Writing: Using Purpose and Clarity to Aid Law Enforcement,” to ensure you are incorporating the key items law enforcement is looking for in a quality SAR.

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