I would again draw your attention to this article, linked before, which explains the procedure that banks follow in practice:
Initial suspicion raised and Nominated Officer informed (probably by computer)
Nominated Officer decides whether they find the transaction in question suspicious. There isn’t going to be much investigation here: It’s not the Nominated Officer’s role to investigate. It’s their role to make a judgement call on whether they find a given transaction suspicious or not - again: read the Act if you want to know more.
The Nominated Officer must submit the SAR when they have the suspicion. Failure to do so (at the moment that the suspicion is there) is a criminal offence. They certainly can’t investigate for days before submitting the SAR. That would be a criminal offence.
An alarm bell rings and the transaction is brought to the attention of the Banks Nominated Officer – let’s call him Dave. Dave looks at the information and has concerns that the activity is suspicious. That is, he suspects money laundering. He files an electronic SAR with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and includes a request for consent to proceed with the transaction
So they can investigate, they make a decision to file the SAR based on the evidence.
“looking at information” and “investigating” are two very different things! The former says: I look at the information given to me. The latter: I seek more information.
Sure, the Nominated Officer doesn’t just “sign off” a computer generated report. As such they don’t have to make the decisions in minutes. Nor is there a fixed time scale, and I’m pretty sure they can and do on occasion seek more information. But certainly, if they were taking days to investigate the matter before eventually filing a report they would be very very unlikely to have a defence.
We are going in circles here, though, and I’m gonna leave it here. I invite you read sections 330-331 of the Act. They are pretty clear: The report has to be filed when suspicion is there. Not when that suspicion is supported by overwhelming evidence. And definitely not when an investigation has completed.
It’s “funny” how someone who keeps saying “where is the source?” “can you provide evidence?” etc then puts his own mind and convictions above the sources provided…
There are two sections on committing an offence: one for folk working in the regulated sector (so anyone working for a bank or other regulated organisation) and one specifically for Nominated Officers.
For folk working in the regulated sector, there are four conditions that need to be fulfilled for an offence to have been committed. I’ve edited it a little to make it more readable and have omitted condition four as it’s a bit complex and not (I think) directly relevant to this argument (tl;dr - it basically says that the person suspected of money-laundering must be able to be identified). The original’s here if you want to see it:
Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, Part 7 (Money Laundering), Offences, Section 330
A person commits an offence if:
(1) He knows or suspects, or has reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting, that another person is engaged in money laundering.
(2) That this information came to him in the course of business in the regulated sector.
(4)The fourth condition is that he does not make the required disclosure to a nominated officer, or a person authorised for this purpose by the Director General of the National Crime Agency, as soon as is practicable after the information or other matter comes to him.
Emphasis mine. My reading of this is that anyone who isn’t a nominated officer has to report a suspicion as soon as possible. So no investigation, because you’d have to have suspicion to investigate. As for what is ‘practicable’, that would be for a court to test, but Monday morning after finding out at 5pm on Friday would seem to me to be reasonable; a month later would not. The grey area in between is for the lawyers to argue!
So what about Nominated Persons? That’s in Section 331 of the legislation. The first three conditions are pretty much the same. The fourth says the following:
The fourth condition is that he [the Nominated Officer] does not make the required disclosure to … the Director General of the National Crime Agency as soon as is practicable after the information … comes to him.
Emphasis again mine. My reading is that, again, this would preclude investigation. Case law would be required to confirm this - the prosecution would likely argue that suspicion was required to investigate, therefore confirming guilt. The defence might state that there was potentially suspicion but that additional information was required to confirm it.
Given that most folk working in the “regulated sector” would presumably prefer that this wasn’t tested in court, then I’d expect them to err on the side of caution and report.
In any event, it’s important to note that everything that we’ve been talking about applies to all banks. As I think others have mentioned, Monzo (and other institutions) seem to have little leeway in their actions here - they are heavily regulated (and there will likely be FCA guidance on top of the legislation) which gives them limited room to manoeuvre, should they wish to do so.
This is fundamentally a public policy / legislation question, not one for individual banks, although they might choose to lobby for/against. Monzo isn’t any different in this regard, just that some of their cases appear to be more public than other banks.
(Edit: I should say that I’m not expressing an opinion about whether I think this is right or not - just pointing out how the legislation is worded. As I say, different people might have different views on how it is to be interpreted but this would need to be tested by a court. In the meantime, different folk will have different risk appetites, but I suspect most would err on the side of caution and report.)
Like Monzo, Tide also sees posts from individuals who have accounts frozen.
It is one of the issues of having app based banking and user communities. You get a more technologically aware consumer and one willing to post their greviances. Consumers from high street banks who visit a branch to pay a Bill or write a strong letter to the bank when they have a complaint, they are not so likely to grumble online!