Friday, March 15, 2013


A report, detailing the US Government's proposed plan to make all Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) available to America's intelligence agencies, is disturbing. Currently, intelligence agencies can obtain SAR filings from FinCEN on an as-needed, case by case, basis. This new proposal will give the CIA, NSA, and the more than two dozen other military and government intelligence agencies all the SAR data.

Whilst I understand that, for valid national security and counter-terrorism purposes, access to specific SARs is necessary and proper, especially terrorist financing investigations, these agencies certainly do not need Suspicious Activity Reports that indicate possible financial crime, tax evasion, garden variety fraud, Ponzi schemes, and sundry other minor offenses.
It is not only unnecessary, but frankly dangerous, to give intelligence agencies, who are not accountable to the American public for misuse of the information, total access. there will be abuses, and any efforts to control the dissemination of this data, which is irrelevant to their stated mission, will never see the inside of a courtroom, for the agencies will artfully play the national security card.

So, if this proposed plan is implemented, do bankers need to be more prudent in what information they should put in the SARs that they are filing ? You bet they do. When you know a SAR will certainly be going into a CIA-controlled database, you must seriously consider being far more terse with your narrative information. Will you name additional individuals (other than your bank client) who are linked or connected to the suspicious activity, knowing that it might spawn a "fishing expedition?" I sincerely hope not. Your narrations will probably be more terse than before, and hopefully will avoid any hearsay information.
When somebody can show me why a military intelligence agency needs access to each and every routine SAR filed in the United States, I will back off on my opposition, but for the present, I believe, in my humble opinion, that it will result in attention paid to US citizens and companies, that is completely outside the mission of American intelligence agencies; They are not law enforcement.  

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