Money Services Business (MSB) Suspicious Activity Reporting

Certain money services business (MSBs) are required to report suspicious activity. The following MSBs are subject to the suspicious activity reporting (SAR) requirement:

  • Money transmitters
  • Money order - issuers, sellers and redeemers
  • Traveler's check - issuers, sellers and redeemers
  • US Postal Service

A report must be filed when a transaction that is conducted by, at or through the MSB is both:

Suspicious, and $2,000 or more

Suspicious. A transaction must be reported if the MSB knows, suspects or has reason to suspect that the transaction (or a pattern of transactions of which the transaction is a part):

  • Involves funds derived from illegal activity or is intended or conducted in order to hide or disguise funds or assets derived from illegal activity, or is
  • Designed to evade the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act, whether through structuring or other means, or
  • Serves no business or apparent lawful purpose, and the reporting business knows of no reasonable explanation for the transaction after examining all available facts.

Filing. A SAR must be filed using a SAR MSB form. MSBs have 30 days after becoming aware of a suspicious transaction to complete and file the form.

Retention. A copy of the filed form and supporting documentation must be retained for a period of five years from the date of filing.

Disclosure Prohibited. MSBs (including MSB employees) are prohibited from disclosing to a person involved in the transaction that a suspicious activity report has been filed. Further, each MSB (including each MSB employee) is protected from civil liability for any SAR filed by the MSB.

Penalties. Civil and criminal penalties may be imposed for willful violation of the SAR requirement.

This guidance is intended to clarify general issues arising under 31 CFR Chapter X (formerly 31 CFR Part 103). The guidance does not replace or supersede the regulations.