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Who has the authority to make the ultimate determination about whether the bank must file a SAR? For example, if the business unit believes a SAR is unnecessary, based on its familiarity with the customer, but the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) Officer believes that one should be filed, who makes the final determination?

The BSA Officer makes the determination. An important aspect of BSA compliance is that the BSA Officer must be able to act with authority and independence, a point emphasized in the updated provisions of the FFIEC BSA/AML Examination Manual released in April 2020. As stated in that update, the BSA Officer must have “the ability to undertake the BSA compliance officer’s role without undue influence from the bank’s business lines.” In the past, there have been examples where a business line overruled the BSA Officer in making such decisions that resulted in fines and sanctions against the bank. Thus, in this case, the BSA Officer makes the final decision. (October 2020)

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