10/21/2003 USA PATRIOT Act Monitor News Release: SAR Statistics
FinCEN has now released a SAR Activity Review By the Numbers, labeling this release as Issue I (October 2003) (available now on "What's New" at www.fincen.gov). This Review consists of material formerly included in the appendices of SAR Reviews (of which five have been issued). FinCEN indicates that this compilation of statistics will be released early fall and early spring of each year. The Review indicates that SAR filings increased steadily from 1996 to 2002, rising from 52,069 to 273,823. In the first six months of 2003, there were 136,115 SAR filings, up from 125,494 for the first six months of 2002, though less than the 148,329 filed in the last six months of 2002. Given the number of new institutions filing SARs, however, it is not clear that institutions are being more observant. Perhaps, also, money launderers are being more circumspect.
Section 5 deals with SAR filings by the securities and futures industries. Since the latter category of institution only began filing in 2003, it is not surprising that the statistics are minimal. Nevertheless, there were 1,932 filings in the first six months of 2003, of which 583 were in New York, 220 in Massachusetts, and 184 in California. Most filings in this industry category involved Money Laundering/Strucuturing, accounting for 550, but Other came in second at 534. FinCEN has indicated concern in the past that institutions are too often selecting "Other" when they could be more specific about the type of suspicion being raised. Most suspicious activity arose from cash or equivalent transactions, which is somewhat surprising given how few securities and futures trading firms accept cash. The "By the Numbers" Review will be analyzed in detail in the November issue of the Monitor.
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