Over £300m denied to suspected criminals by suspicious activity reports

Nearly 1 million suspicious activity reports (SARs) were made to law enforcement by professionals in 2021/22, according to the UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU).

According to its 2022 SARs report, the UKFIU received and processed 901,255 SARs in 2021/22 – a 21% increase on the previous year.

The legal profession contributed to the rise, with the UKFIU reporting that 29% more SARs were submitted by legal professionals in 2021/22 compared to the previous year.

Of these, 2,052 SARs were made by solicitors. A further 1,160 SARs were requests from solicitors and firms for defences against money laundering (DAMLs).

Your money laundering obligations

If you work in the regulated sector, your firm’s money laundering reporting officer (MLRO) must make a SAR if they:

  • know or suspect, or
  • have reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting

that a person is engaged in money laundering.

Learn more about SARs

Your MLRO must ask the National Crime Agency (NCA) for a DAML if you know or suspect that you or your firm will be dealing with criminal property in a way that may amount to a money laundering offence.

Learn more about DAMLs

How you’re making a difference

An estimated £305.7 million was denied to suspected criminals as a result of DAML SARs.

The UKFIU credited the “impressive increase in funds denied” to a growing number of high-value DAML reports, as well as improvements in the quality of DAMLs being made.

These findings demonstrate the important role that solicitors play in the fight against money laundering.

By reporting suspicions of money laundering, you are helping to improve the quality of intelligence received by law enforcement agencies.

How we can support you and your firm

We have a range of resources that can help you and your firm to detect and prevent money laundering.

The Legal Sector Affinity Group AML guidance for the legal sector is a comprehensive guide to best practice on AML issues. 

Make sure you understand your obligations

Helping you with anti-money laundering compliance

Explore our guide to suspicious activity reports, which covers:

  • when and how to make a SAR
  • what to include
  • how to request a DAML
  • what happens if you fail to report suspicious activity to the NCA

Our guidance also sets out how to report suspicions of money laundering to your firm’s MLRO. Learn how to report a client or third party

Want to learn more and test your knowledge? This 30-minute learning module will help you understand how your firm may be targeted and the steps you can take to identify suspicious instructions.

The SARs regime is being reviewed to improve the quality and quantity of AML reporting. Find out what’s changing

Maximise your Law Society membership with My LS