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Financial Intelligence

SOCA is the UK's Financial Intelligence Unit. As such it receives and analyses suspicious activity reports (SARs) concerning suspected proceeds of crime in order to counter money laundering and terrorism, and makes them available to law enforcement for appropriate action.

SARs are also known as 'disclosures' – and can contribute intelligence to existing law enforcement operations, identify the proceeds of crime, and initiate investigation into previously unknown criminal activities.

In 2005, SOCA's precursor agency NCIS received just under 200,000 disclosures, and has seen a steady year on year increase since 2001.

Where Appropriate Consent to carry out a prohibited act may be required under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, there is a specific team within SOCA to process these requests, and SOCA's partner agencies prioritise the handling of their consent referrals. As at March 2004, £25 million had been protected (i.e. restrained, seized or returned to the victim) as a result of consent decisions.

The impact of SARs in reducing crime

Whilst comprehensive data is not held on the overall number of prosecutions, convictions, and other crime reduction and prevention actions taken as a result of SAR information, the following examples illustrate their value:

HMRC indicates that around a fifth of SARs received identify a new subject of interest and a quarter lead to new enquiries in relation to direct taxation matters.

About 20 to 30 per cent of SARs disseminated to the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit either led to a longer term investigation, or added substantially to an existing investigation.

A single SAR identified hundreds of thousands of pounds of serious fraud and indicated that the criminal property was being laundered. Several hundred thousand pounds were restrained as a result of an investigation initiated following development of this SAR.

A five figure cash sum was identified as the realisable assets of drug trafficking as a result of a SAR.

Two arrests and substantial quantities of drugs were seized as a result of a drug trafficking investigation which was given direction by a SAR.

Three arrests in two separate cases were made following investigation of SARs which indicated the proceeds of fraud.

A five figure cash seizure resulted from a SAR which alerted law enforcement to the latest intentions of an individual previously suspected of money laundering.

A number of SARs enabled law enforcement to link a subject responsible for suspicious cash placement into a wider criminal network. The law enforcement agency reported that without the SAR it would not have been able to take the investigation further.

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