On 15 July, an article from TLT refers to a recent Home Office Circular clarifying how SAR should be disclosed in civil litigation. However, the article says, the guidance is in very general of terms and leaves some specific circumstances unaddressed. For example, it notes that the Circular does not cover SAR made under the Terrorism Act 2000. Use in litigation is tricky, it suggests, as disclosing that a SAR has been filed or that a money laundering investigation is being undertaken may amount to the offences of tipping off or prejudicing an investigation. The article highlights the importance of separate internal processes, i.e. separate from the preparation and filing of the SAR, avoid references to SAR in internal documentation about decisions to terminate or exit a customer and to focus on other factors to end a relationship with a customer. The article also looks at when a SAR might be disclosable. It urges businesses to put in place internal processes which make a clear distinction between a SAR and the other commercial reasons to exit customers or to suspend account access where money laundering is suspected.
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