updated 2:28 PM CEST, May 24, 2023

FinCEN seeks comments on program to enable U.S. financial companies to share 'suspicious activity reports' with their overseas affiliates

The U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is soliciting comments from the public and industry stakeholders with respect to a "limited-duration pilot program" that it says will enable U.S. financial institutions to be able to share suspicious activity reports (SARs) with their foreign branches, subsidiaries and affiliates for the first time.

In particular, FinCEN is interested in the public's thoughts on the pilot program's "compliance with federal and state law enforcement, intelligence community concerns, data security and confidentiality" issues, according to an explanation on FinCEN's website.

The public consultation, being carried out in accordance with Section 6212 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, will close on March 28. 

FinCEN says that its new SARs-sharing program is to be introduced in order to better facilitate its existing efforts to combat illicit finance risks, subject to its (FinCEN's) approval and conditions.

It adds that it is soliciting comments about the program to "ensure that the sharing of information is limited by the requirements of federal and state law enforcement, takes into account potential concerns of the intelligence community, and is subject to appropriate standards and requirements regarding data security, and the confidentiality of personally identifiable information."

"This NPRM [notice of proposed rule making] builds on the experience that FinCEN has gained in administering existing pilot programs, and once finalized, will assist financial institutions in further combating illicit finance risks," FinCEN Acting Director Himamauli Das says.

“We urge stakeholders to provide input to assist us in developing a program that will help combat illicit finance risks, [while promoting] enterprise-wide risk management [and] ensuring [that] adequate safeguards are in place to protect SAR confidentiality.”

Once finalized, FinCEN says, the proposed SARs-sharing rule would establish a "limited-duration pilot program" to allow SAR-sharing by companies with their foreign affiliates, which would also provide FinCEN with valuable feedback about the value of such SAR-sharing for participating financial institutions, as well as for FinCEN and law enforcement.

"FinCEN strongly encourages all interested parties, including those that may want to participate in the SAR-sharing pilot program when it is finalized, to submit written comments," FinCEN says. 

SAR origins in BSA

Suspicious Activity Reports have their origins in the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, which was introduced to address money-laundering, terrorism financing and other illicit financial activity, as part of overall U.S. national security efforts.

Those interested in submitting comments electronically may do so by going to the Federal E-rulemaking Portal, at www.regulations.gov, and following the instructions, referring here to "Docket Number FINCEN-2022-0002 and RIN 1506-AB51."

By mail, they may send their comments to the following address: Policy Division, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, P.O. Box 39, Vienna, Virginia 22183. Here too, they should refer to "Docket Number FINCEN-2022-0002 and RIN 1506-AB51.

More information and answers to questions may be found by contacting FinCEN, either by calling  the FinCEN Regulatory Support Section at 1-800-767-2825, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or filling in a form at https://fincen.gov/​contact.

Established in 1990, FinCEN is a bureau of the U.S. Treasury that is tasked with collecting and analyzing information about individual as well as corporate financial transactions in such a way as to help the government to combat domestic and international money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. It's best known to many American expats as the agency that oversees the collecting and handling of Foreign Bank Account Reports (FBARs).