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April 20, 2004
contact: (703) 905-3770

Statement from FinCEN Director William J. Fox on unauthorized SAR disclosures

"The unauthorized disclosure of suspicious activity reports (SARs), as detailed in recent press reports, is a violation of federal criminal law and is being reviewed by the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

The release of this information by those to whom it was entrusted threatens everything that we all have worked so hard to build -- a program to protect the integrity of our financial system through the prevention, detection and prosecution of financial crimes and terrorist financing. The SAR system has yielded, and will continue to yield, extremely valuable information for law enforcement. FinCEN is acutely aware of the privacy interests implicated in this reporting. The success of this reporting system depends upon the financial sector’s confidence that these reports will not be inappropriately disclosed by those to whom FinCEN disseminates the information.

FinCEN requires those with access to this sensitive information to preserve its confidentiality. FinCEN will continue to safeguard the information it collects and any incidents undermining the integrity of the system will be thoroughly investigated."