Federal law (31 U.S.C. 5318(g)(2)) prohibits the notification of any person that is involved in the activity being reported on a SAR that the activity has been reported. This prohibition effectively precludes the disclosure of a SAR or the fact that a SAR has been filed. However, this prohibition does not preclude, under Federal law, a disclosure in an appropriate manner of the facts that are the basis of the SAR, so long as the disclosure is not made in a way that indicates or implies that a SAR has been filed or that the information is included on a filed SAR.
The prohibition against disclosure can raise special issues when SAR records are sought by subpoena or court order. The SAR regulations direct organizations facing those issues to contact their primary supervisor, as well as FinCEN, to obtain guidance and direction on how to proceed. In several matters to date, government agencies have intervened to ensure that the protection for filing organizations and the integrity of the data contained within the SAR database remain intact. (12/2000)
This FAQ was obtained from FinCEN’s website, in the section for Answers to Frequently Asked BSA Questions, which may be found here: