FinCEN, SARs and Attorneys

March 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm Leave a comment

On March 2, FinCEN issued FIN-2012-A002 (the “Guidance”) which is directed at (of all things) in-house and outside counsel.  The Guidance suggests that Banks should remind their outside and in-house counsel of the requirement to maintain the confidentiality of Suspicious Activity Reports.  FinCEN states that it is aware that an increasing number of private parties, who are not authorized to know of the existence of filed SARs, are seeking SARs from financial institutions for use in civil litigation and other matters. FinCEN indicates that outside counsel, in particular, may not be aware of the obligation to keep the content and existence of a SAR confidential. The Guidance reminds banks that civil and criminal penalties can be imposed for improper disclosure of SARs or even the existence of a SAR, up to imprisonment for 5 years. Penalties could be imposed on attorneys who reveal this information and may also be assessed against the bank itself.

Any institution which receives a subpoena or other demand for information concerning the existence or content of a SAR should contact FinCEN’s Office of Chief Counsel at (703) 905-3590 and may need to inform its primary federal regulator of the demand.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , .

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